Intergenerational Transfer of Early Maladaptive Schemas in Mother–Daughter Dyads, and the Role of Parenting

  • Madeline Gibson
  • Andrew J. P. FrancisEmail author
Original Article


Expanding limited research on the origins of early maladaptive schemas, this study investigated relations between parental (mother) schemas and parenting styles with child (adult daughter) schemas using cross-sectional methodology. One hundred women (aged 18–88) participated in the study and 39 matched mother–daughter dyads were analysed. The Young Schema Questionnaire, Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale, Parental Bonding Instrument and Parental Authority Questionnaire were used to assess individual schemas, parenting styles from the daughters’ perspective, and depression as a mood-state control variable. Mother schemas predicted a range of daughter schemas. There was also evidence of direct transference (‘selective internalisation’) of some schemas between mothers and daughters. Daughter schemas were associated with parenting styles. In particular, high authoritative parenting predicted lower levels of daughter schemas and high overprotective parenting predicted higher levels of daughter schemas. There was no firm evidence that authoritative parenting mediated the relationship between mother and daughter schemas in this domain. The major limitations of this study are the cross-sectional design and relatively small sample. In conclusion, mother maladaptive schemas and style of parenting predict daughter schemas. The results provide support for interpersonal, intergenerational influences on schema development. In highlighting the possible intergenerational sources of maladaptive core beliefs, this research may open new avenues of therapist–client dialogue.


Cognitive schema Intergenerational Early maladaptive schema Parenting style Development 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Madeline Gibson and Andrew J.P. Francis declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cairnmillar InstituteHawthorn EastAustralia

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