The transition to parenthood: individual variability in well-being [PhD Project]

The transition to parenthood is a major life event associated with happiness in some individuals and unhappiness in others. This project will use longitudinal and experience sampling methods to study the sources and processes underlying individual differences in psychological well-being trajectories during the transition to parenthood. This project is part of the Healthy Lifespan theme.

Becoming a parent represents a critical life transition. How does parenthood affect psychological well-being? This has been a central question in personality-developmental and social psychology and family sociology for decades. Yet, research fell short of reaching a consensus, with studies portraying the transition to parenthood as either a negative or a positive experience.

The project’s overarching goal is to reconcile these inconsistent findings by examining whether the transition might have different consequences for different aspects of psychological well-being and for different individuals. We will use existing panel datasets and collect novel data using experience sampling methods and the infrastructure of the Brabant study to examine how the transition shapes momentary experiences and retrospective assessments of hedonic (e.g., happiness) and eudemonic (e.g., meaning in life) well-being. We will explore the role of daily and momentary experiences, individual differences, different aspects of immediate and broader societal context in shaping between-individual differences in the experience of the transition.


Dr. Olga Stavrova is a social psychologist. She studies psychological well-being and health, interpersonal relationships, beliefs and attitudes.

Dr. Anne Reitz is a developmental and personality psychologist. Her research interests are in the areas of personality and self-esteem development and life transitions.

Dr. Katya Ivanova is an expert in family sociology. Her research explores the links between fertility and well-being, predictors of the transition to parenthood, and complex and novel family arrangements.


Project duration: 2021 - 2025

Cross-cutting themes

The Herbert Simon Research Institute for Health, Well-being, and Adaptiveness is a research center devoted to carrying out excellent, state of the art research in order to contribute to healthy and resilient people. We have selected three themes, which involve the collaboration between various Departments  and address actual themes in need of both fundamental and applied research.