Creativity Breeds Happy Families, Study Finds

August 14, 1997

Most Families Were Larger Than Average and Had Both Parents Living at Home, Though Not Exactly the Waltons Either

CHICAGO -- What makes a family happy? No one characteristic determines this, say psychologists who examined characteristics of families that were rated happy by one of the children, but parents who work in creative professions seem to create the most happy home environments, according to a study presented at the American Psychological Association's (APA) 105th Annual Convention in Chicago.

"Young adults who reported that they were raised in a happy family were more likely to grow up in larger-than-average families (3.25 vs. 2.65 children), in homes in which both the mother and father spent more time at home than in most American families and had parents who had occupations that were considered more creative than the norm," said psychologist Barbara Kerr, Ph.D., of Arizona State University.

Dr. Kerr came to this conclusion by examining the family characteristics of 30 college students who scored the highest on a family functioning scale. The students were then asked to describe the general characteristics of their families. They were also asked how much they participated in creative activities and whether they were encouraged to pursue their own creative talents.

"Only 54 percent of American households are families with both mother and father present, and about 30 percent of American families only have one parent," said Dr. Kerr. "Twenty-eight of the 30 families in this study had a mother and father living in the home and two or more children, giving an average of over four persons in the home during the students' upbringing."

"These families were not exactly The Waltons either," said Dr. Kerr. Three of the families had been through a divorce, two others had an affair that caused a temporary separation and one family had an openly gay father. The families were widely different in religion and class too. They ranged from Mormon to New Age, from recent immigrants to established upper class, said Kerr.

About 70 percent (22) of the mothers were in the home during their children's upbringing, but many of them worked out of their homes as artists, interior designers, bakers and cake decorators, craftspersons and creative writers. Additionally, "a surprising number of fathers also worked out of their own homes in furniture, cabinetry and other skilled design work, in music, photography and art and in software design," said Dr. Kerr.

According to the students' responses, these families were openly affectionate, supportive people who were proud of their family's closeness. They lived in fairly large houses which were either neat or cluttered, but comfortable. The students also said that they were encouraged to take risks and were strongly supported in their challenges.

"Creativity may breed creativity," Dr. Kerr. "Most of these students (83%) reported that they had creative accomplishments, mostly in the spatial-visual area, like painting, textile art and quilting, photography, computer graphics, furniture construction and interior design. The other students reported creative accomplishments in writing, sports and music."
-end-

Presentation: "The Happy Family Study," by Barbara Kerr, Ph.D., Arizona State University. Session 1245, Friday, August 15, 1997, 3:00 - 4:50 pm, Palmer House Hilton, Private Dining Room 9.

(Full text available from the APA Public Affairs Office.)

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 151,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 50 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 58 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.

American Psychological Association

Related Children Articles from Brightsurf:

Black and Hispanic children in the US have more severe eczema than white children
A presentation at this year's virtual American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting reveals the disparities that exist for Black and Hispanic children when it comes to Atopic Dermatitis (AD), commonly known as eczema.

Black children with cancer three times less likely to receive proton radiotherapy than White children
A retrospective analysis led by investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital has found racial disparities in the use of the therapy for patients enrolled in trials.

The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health: First Europe-wide study of children confirms COVID-19 predominately causes mild disease in children and fatalities are very rare
Children with COVID-19 generally experience a mild disease and fatalities are very rare, according to a study of 582 patients from across Europe published today in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.

Children not immune to coronavirus; new study from pandemic epicenter describes severe COVID-19 response in children
- While most children infected with the novel coronavirus have mild symptoms, a subset requires hospitalization and a small number require intensive care.

How many children is enough?
Most Russians would like to have two children: a boy and a girl.

Preterm children have similar temperament to children who were institutionally deprived
A child's temperament is affected by the early stages of their life.

Only-children more likely to be obese than children with siblings
Families with multiple children tend to make more healthy eating decisions than families with a single child.

Children living in countryside outperform children living in metropolitan area in motor skills
Residential density is related to children's motor skills, engagement in outdoor play and organised sports. that Finnish children living in the countryside spent more time outdoors and had better motor skills than their age peers in the metropolitan area.

Hispanic and black children more likely to miss school due to eczema than white children
In a study that highlights racial disparities in the everyday impact of eczema, new research shows Hispanic and black children are more likely than white children to miss school due to the chronic skin disease.

Children, their parents, and health professionals often underestimate children's higher weight status
More than half of parents underestimated their children's classification as overweight or obese -- children themselves and health professionals also share this misperception, according to new research being presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, UK (April 28-May 1).

Read More: Children News and Children Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.