The Prototypical Parent Personality


  • Madeline R. Lenhausen Orcid
  • Christopher J. Hopwood Orcid
  • Manon A. van Scheppingen Orcid
  • Wiebke Bleidorn Orcid


What personality traits characterize a typical parent? The purpose of this pre-registered study was to generate consensus-based Big Five personality prototypes of a typical father and mother through the eyes of 226 expecting parents and 281 nonparents (Total N = 507). We found that a prototypical father’s and mother’s personalities can be described with high levels of agreement as characterized by high levels of emotional stability, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. The prototypical mother profile is higher in extraversion, the agreeableness item: sympathy/warmth, and conscientiousness and lower in emotional stability compared to the prototypical father profile. Compared to nonparents, mothers’ self-rated levels of emotional stability and extraversion were more similar to the parent prototype. We found little evidence that parents’ self-reported personality aligns more with their beliefs about a prototypical parent’s personality after the transition to parenthood. Discussion focuses on personality prototypes and social role expectations during the transition to parenthood.