Ann Roe's Three Parenting Styles

It's fairly obvious that the environment in which you're raised can affect how you think and behave as an adult -- but 20th century psychologist and researcher Anne Roe took it one step further. Through her studies of artists, scientists and members of Native American tribes in the 1940s and '50s, Roe developed a theory of "Career Choice and Development," which theorized that parenting styles and a child's psychological needs can influence the careers among which a person chooses as an adult 3. Roe divided the relationships between parent and child into three categories, with six subcategories.

Emotional Concentration of the Child

Roe's Emotional Concentration style of parenting could manifest as a warm, indulgent parent whom Roe considered "over-protecting." It could also point to a parent who pushes a child to be a high achiever, in a parenting style that Roe referred to as "over-demanding."

Avoidance of the Child

Roe's Avoidance style of parenting was broken into two categories: "rejecting" and "neglecting." The "rejecting" type of parent may be overly critical of the child, or may be mean, hostile or cold. Meanwhile the "neglecting" parent also offers little to no affection and cares little for the child's basic needs.

Acceptance of the Child

Roe's third parenting style, the Acceptance style, was also broken into two categories: "casual acceptance" and "loving acceptance." The casually accepting parent, according to Roe, would have limited rules, would be indulgent and somewhat accepting of the child. The parent with "loving acceptance," meanwhile, would show warmth, love and would be happy to help the child.

How That Relates to Occupation

Roe's theories drew heavily on Abraham Maslow's "Heirarchy of Needs," a hypothesis that states that people will seek to fulfill their needs in order of importance. Roe believed that when a child's needs were not satisfied during the childhood years, the child would either forget about those needs, or use them as motivators in choosing a career. In the 1950s, Roe believed the children who experienced loving acceptance, overprotection or overdemanding parenting styles would choose careers in entertainment, service, culture or other people-related fields. Children who experienced casual acceptance, neglect or emotional rejection would gravitate toward scientific or other non-people-related fields.


Roe later adopted a more comprehensive perspective about what determines career choices, taking into account that each parent in a two-parent household may have a different style. Scientists and psychologists today have mixed opinions about the validity of Roe's theories, and her critics tend to agree that more empirical studies would be required to validate her claims. Other researchers have noted that factors such as socioeconomic status should also be taken into account.

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