Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Development and Validation of a New Parental Authority Instrument (PAI)

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Development and Validation of a New Parental Authority Instrument (PAI)

Article excerpt

According to Weber (1968), authority is defined as legitimate power that enables achieving desired outcomes from others, sometimes against their will. The authority reflects the authority figure's pragmatic ability to affect the behavior of the other person, who recognizes the former's legitimate right to do so, even if this is against his will and personal interest. In concrete terms, the term embodies two central, bilateral elements, namely the use of power and the perception of its legitimacy (Yaffe, 2013). Accordingly, we would expect a definition of parental authority to include these two elements as inherent dimensions of the concept. However, a review of the research literature reveals that the theoretical frameworks referring to this construct tend to rely on only one of its dimensions.

The central theoretical framework in the field of parental authority deals with describing parenting styles or types (Baumrind, 1991; Maccoby & Martin, 1983), distinguished by the extent to which the parent sets boundaries and provides guidance, explains and justifies demands and expectations, employs control and power, and also provides emotional support (Yaffe, 2014). Over the years, many measurement instruments have been developed for the self-reporting of children and parents, intended to evaluate the parent's use of specific practices, to characterize the level of parental control and acceptance, and to classify the parent into one of four parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved (e.g.: PPS: Bloom, 1985; PAQ: Buri, 1999; PCRQ: Furman & Giberson, 1995; PAC: Reitzle, Winkler Metzke & Steinhausen, 2001; PSDQ: Robinson, Mandelco, Olsen & Hart, 2001; PARQ: Rohner, 2005; CRPBI: Schafer, 1965; APQ: Shelton, Frick & Wooton, 1996). However, in the absence of a definition focused on the theoretical construct of parental authority, with its two inherent dimensions (power and legitimacy), the operationalization of the parenting styles sometimes serves to evaluate the parent's authority beyond its aim as a measure of general parental patterns (Yaffe, 2014).

One of the most common instruments in the area is Buri's Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ: Buri, 1991), which serves to classify parents into one of the three parenting styles described above. This typology, which appears in the context of authoritative (high demanding and high responsiveness) versus permissive (low demanding and high responsiveness), refers to the parent's control in terms of power processes (Henry, Wilson & Peterson, 1989; Olson & Cromwell, 1975). It lacks, however, the component of perceived legitimacy of the expression of parental power toward the child. The body of research dealing with conceptions of parental authority by parents and children has shown that it is essential in the definition of the parent's authority, associated consistently with obedience in practice, the tendency to reveal information to the parent, involvement in undesired activity, and a long list of outcomes among adolescents (Darling, Cumsille, Caldwell & Dowdy, 2006; Darling, Cumsille & Martinez, 2007, 2008; Darling, Cumsille & Pena-Alampay, 2005; Yau & Smetana, 2009). Furthermore, a series of studies provided by this body of research has shown that parental authority is context-dependent (related to the domain under discussion) and is not uniform among issues (Smetana, 1988, 1993; Smetana & Asquith, 1994; Tisak, 1986). It is therefore reasonable to assume that operationalization of this concept should be based on an appropriate array of stimuli, accurately representing the parent-child conflict (Yaffe, 2014). Rather, the various instruments mentioned above lack a specific behavioral and social context, and their measurement focuses on assessing the parent's general control tendencies. This is because they are aimed at measuring generalized parenting practices, behaviors, and styles in socializing children at home, existing beyond the specific context (Smetana, 1994). …

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