Dads Level of Affection Impacts Children’s Personalities

New study uses monozygotic twins to examine the relationship between parents affection for their children and how it might influence their personalities.

By Kate Phillipa Clark

A new study looks at differences in reported parental affection by twins and differences in their personalities. The results were published in Evolution and Human Behavior. The researchers hypothesized that the twin who reported greater parental affection would also score higher on traits such as plasticity and stability. They also thought that this twin would score higher on the general factor of personality. That refers to traits such as extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experiences as well as being low on neuroticism. A group of monozygotic twins – identical twins who share a placenta – were included in the study.

A fathers level of affection has great impact

The researchers confirmed their hypothesis, finding that the twin who experienced greater affection scored higher on the general factor of personality. It also showed that differences in perceived level of affection from fathers were more strongly associated with differences in personalities than perceived level of affection from mothers. The researchers also suggested that differential parenting may be heightened in twins because their parents are caring for two children at the same time. Parental stress is a harbinger for differential parenting, and previous studies do confirm that parental stress is higher in parents of twins compared to parents of singletons. The researchers suggested that sibling competition for parental resources may play a larger role with twins.


About the Author

Kate Phillipa Clark

Kate Phillipa Clark has a bachelor in Journalism and an Executive Master in Corporate Communication. She is an identical twin and so is her father.


  1. Suzanne / 17. October 2018 at 4:56 pm /Reply

    As the mother of monozygotic twins, this was/is a big issue in my family’s life. I started noticing this early on and there was nothing I could do to fix it. There father left three boys aged 12 and 10 (twins) and they told me it changed the atmosphere in the house from tensed to relaxed. But this issue (lack of affection) always seemed to bother me more than it did them. I hate that their father is given selective rights as to when he’ll see them (most holidays) because of this. My sons don’t deserve this.

    • Kate Phillipa Clark / 18. October 2018 at 4:53 am /Reply

      Suzanne, I’m sorry you (and your boys) have to deal with this!

Leave a Reply

Keep in Touch

Sign up to be notified when we launch contests and publish new articles.