PARTheory Gets a New Name

From this time forward, parental acceptance-rejection theory (PARTheory) should be known as interpersonal acceptance-rejection theory (IPARTheory). The name change recognizes the fact that PARTheory has been transitioning since 1999 from its long-term and initial focus on parental acceptance-rejection to issues of acceptance-rejection in all important classes of interpersonal relationships throughout the life span.

Before changing its name,  I waited until a solid body of evidence had   accumulated supporting the theory’s basic postulates that children and adults in many classes of  relationships other than  parent-child relationships understand themselves to be cared about (i.e., accepted or rejected) in the same ways that children do in parent-child relationships, and that individuals in these relationships tend to respond to perceptions of acceptance-rejection in the same ways that children do when they perceive themselves to be accepted or rejected by their parents.  I did this in recognition of the fact that PARTheory (now IPARTheory) is an evidence-based theory. That body of evidence is now available (see for example Rohner, Khaleque, and Cournoyer, 2012). I should note here, however, that little in the theory and body of evidence supporting it changes as a result of this name change. The name-change simply recognizes the fact the theory has evolved into a life span perspective pertinent to all important classes of interpersonal relationships throughout life (in effect it is a womb to tomb perspective).

For several years  I have been considering  making this name change but didn’t do it because I thought the acronym that seemed to flow most naturally from the term “interpersonal acceptance-rejection theory” (i.e., IARTheory) would be confusing. Researchers and practitioners worldwide who are familiar with the acronym PARTheory would not know that IARTheory is really PARTheory under a new name. I mentioned this in one of my presentations on June 25, 2014 at the ISIPAR conference in Chisinau, Moldova. At that point Parminder Parmar spoke up and suggested that we rename the theory IPARTheory. The acronym IPARTheory sounds and looks a great deal like its parent acronym PARTheory, so it seemed unlikely to cause significant confusion for those people who are accustomed to seeing and using the term PARTheory. There appeared to be general agreement in the audience with Parminder’s suggestion. So, at that moment an old theory was reborn with a new name.

I request that from this time forward, those of you who draw from PARTheory and associated measures refer to IPARTheory, probably with a caveat such as “(formerly known as PARTheory)”. In this way you make it clear to your reader that you are working from a widely-known theory under a new name.


Rohner R. P., Khaleque , A., & Cournoyer, D. E. (2012). Introduction to parental acceptance-rejection theory, methods, evidence, and implications. Retrieved from http://csiar.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/494/2014/02/INTRODUCTION-TO-PARENTAL-ACCEPTANCE-3-27-12.pdf

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