Family Mental Health: Marital and Parent-Child Consensus as Predictors

By Pruchno, Rachel; Burant, Christopher et al. | Journal of Marriage and Family, August 1994 | Go to article overview

Family Mental Health: Marital and Parent-Child Consensus as Predictors


Pruchno, Rachel, Burant, Christopher, Peters, Norah D., Journal of Marriage and Family


Data regarding consensus and mental health were collected from 252 women, their husbands, and an adolescent child who were members of three-generation households. Analyses indicate that consensus is best represented by six separate constructs and mental health by three separate constructs. Mental health of individual family members was differentially predicted by indicators of consensus.

Understanding people within families has been a goal of both psychologists and sociologists. Neither discipline, however, has done a particularly good job of matching theory with methodological approaches, resulting in a knowledge base that is generally characterized by more questions than answers. The goal of this article is to discuss, from both a conceptual as well as a methodological perspective, the constructs of family consensus and mental health, and to examine the way in which these two constructs relate to one another.

Larsen and Olsen (1990) define "family study" as one that "systematically integrates the family perspective from the conception of the project through to the final analysis" (p. 20). One issue that has come to the attention of researchers is the extent to which we can learn about families from the report of only one of its members. Thompson and Walker (1982) suggest that there are situations when data from one individual in the family can adequately represent the family. Data collected from individuals qualify as research about families if the intention is to use an individual's report as either: (a) an objective reality; implying that the report is independent of the individual's view, such as report of the number of family members, length of time a marriage has existed, or the presence/absence of characteristics that can be corroborated by an outside observer, or (b) a subjective individual reality that is interpreted as one family member's perception of himself, her family, or other family members. If however, the intention is to use one family member's subjective perceptions to characterize the feelings of a whole family, or to try to represent a family's reality beyond the confines of its physical and demographic characteristics, then gathering information from only one family member is insufficient (Pruchno, 1989).

Safilios-Rothschild's (1969) eloquent criticisms of family sociology as "wives' family sociology," as well as similar comments from other scholars (Booth & Welch, 1978; Cromwell & Olson, 1975; Larson, 1974; Olson, 1977; Thomas & Colonico, 1972), have been answered by an increase in the number of studies that collect data from more than one family member. However, as Larsen and Olson (1990) have warned, "just as it is dangerous to assume that one member can adequately represent the family's reality, it is equally problematic to conclude that the acquisition of several members' data can provide a more valid reality" (p. 22). In fact, responding to Safilios-Rothschild's (1970) lament, Larsen and Olson (1990) point out that there is neither theoretical justification nor empirical findings that indicate that husbands, sons, daughters, or a family composite can provide any more insights than those provided by wives alone. Certainly, it can be argued that collecting data from multiple family members results in a richer, more intricate description of what is going on within the family, yet the meaning and usefulness of these reports must be established at the theoretical rather than methodological level.

Central to the goal of increasing our understanding of families is making and respecting the distinction between characteristics of individuals and characteristics of families. Depending on the theoretical assumptions one makes about this issue are decisions regarding research design, data analysis, and interpretation. One of the salient problems that has plagued students of the family is a lack of respect for unit parity. As such, characteristics of individuals and characteristics of families are frequently confounded (Pruchno, 1989; Thompson & Walker, 1982).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Family Mental Health: Marital and Parent-Child Consensus as Predictors
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.