Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Multiple Perspectives on Family Differentiation: Analyses by Multitrait Multimethod Matrix and Triadic Social Relations Models

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Multiple Perspectives on Family Differentiation: Analyses by Multitrait Multimethod Matrix and Triadic Social Relations Models

Article excerpt

This article illustrates two statistical analysis procedures that provide options for handling multiple perspectives on the same variable. We used the Differentiation in the Family System Scale to assess boundary maintenance in the family from three members' perspectives. The first procedure, multitrait multimethod matrix with correlated uniquenesses, suggested that the best model was one in which the six dyadic subscales formed distinct factors using the three perspectives. The second procedure, the triadic social relations model, provided further evidence of agreement. Mothers' views tended to be the most shared, whereas fathers' were the least shared. As one person exhibited differentiated behavior, the other also tended to elicit the same behavior.

Key Words: data analysis, differentiation, multiple perspectives, multitrait multimethod matrix.

This article illustrates two statistical analysis procedures that allow for multiple perspectives of family members on the same variable. Recently, Bartle-Haring and Gavazzi (1996) demonstrated the utility of using confirmatory factor analysis with multiple-perspective data for family-level variables. The objective of our investigation is to extend this line of work by again using a confirmatory factor analysis with triadic-level data (three members of the same family commenting on how members treat self, how self treats others, and how other members treat other members) rather than dyadic-level data (two or more members of a family commenting on how members treat self and how self treats others). We demonstrate a second analysis technique, triadic social relations modeling. Both techniques can incorporate multiple perspectives on the same construct and measure how much the raters agree about the particular construct of interest while controlling for rater bias.

In all too many studies, the information we have on "families" is from one person's perspective only. Although information from one informant is valuable, such a perspective may be the idiosyncratic view of one individual, rather than the consensual reflection of what a particular family is. With a single informant, the researcher cannot assess the extent of agreement between family members or the extent to which they share a reality. Teachman, Carver, and Day (1995) and Hauser (1988) have suggested models that include paired data that partition variance into individual and common family factors with sibling data. Others have demonstrated that three members' perspectives on family variables can also be used and that it provides useful information (Cole & Jordan, 1991; Martin & Cole, 1993). Having information from more than one person in a family seems essential if the researcher is to understand "the family" as a family, rather than as just one person's perspective of that system (Sabatelli & Bartle, 1995).

Before delving into the details of these statistical methods, we need to understand the importance of theory in applying them. The rationale for using these statistical techniques must come from the theoretical conceptualization of the constructs of interest. If the construct of interest is not defined as a system-level property or at least as a relational property, these techniques may be irrelevant. Thus, to demonstrate the utility of these techniques, we outline the theoretical conceptualization of the construct of interest, in this case differentiation.

THEORETICAL CONCEPTUALIZATION OF DIFFERENTIATION

Family System Differentiation

As a marker of distance regulation in family systems, the differentiation construct is considered an important component of family functioning. Bowen (1976, 1978) defines differentiation at the individual level and the family-system level. At a system level, family differentiation manifests itself as the family's tolerance for individuality or difference and its tolerance for intimacy or belongingness (Anderson & Sabatelli, 1990). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.