Merlino-Perkins Father-Daughter Relationship Inventory (MP-FDI): Construction, Reliability, Validity, and Implications for Counseling and Research

By Merlino Perkins, Rose J. | Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, October 2008 | Go to article overview

Merlino-Perkins Father-Daughter Relationship Inventory (MP-FDI): Construction, Reliability, Validity, and Implications for Counseling and Research


Merlino Perkins, Rose J., Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development


The Merlino-Perkins Father-Daughter Relationship Inventory, a self-report instrument, assesses women's childhood interactions with supportive, doting, distant, controlling, tyrannical, physically abusive, absent, and seductive fathers. Item and scale development, psychometric findings drawn from factor analyses, reliability assessments, and validation processes are presented along with implications for counseling and research.

The father-daughter relationship represents an area of relational theory that has been largely unexplored. Counselors have long observed the impact childhood parenting has had on adult development, and relational theorists have connected parent--child interactions with subsequent adult adjustment. However, the mothering figure has typically been the primary focus; consideration of the father's role has been inferred in theory and thinly represented in research (Adler, 1927; Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978; Horney, 1950; Kohut, 1971; Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 1975; Sullivan, 1953). Despite reports that suggest supportive fathers predict self-efficacy and social competence among women (Barnett, Kibria, Baruch,& Pleck, 1991; Finley & Schwartz, 2004), research and clinical treatment based on father daughter childhood interactions have centered primarily on the readily defined absent and seductive fathers (Amato, 1991; Hetherington, 1972; Mandara, Murray, & Joyner, 2005; Seltzer, 1991).

Moreover, most published parent--child inventories have measured general parent behaviors (Armsden & Greenberg, 1987; Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991; Fouladi, Moller, & McCarthy, 2006; Heiss, Berman, & Sperling, 1996). Additionally, the few published father--daughter inventories have reported general father daughter interactions with scales established through small regional samples (Doherty, Kouneski, & Erickson, 1998; Finley & Schwartz, 2004). A few noted scholars (Freud, 1988; Goulter & Minninger, 1994; Secunda, 1992) have used interviews and informal assessments to report specific father--daughter interactions that suggest possible consequences for women's adult development. Although informal assessments and interviews have contributed interest in the field, by their nature, they have been limited. Interviews have been time consuming and difficult to standardize, and findings have not easily been generalized (Fouladi et al., 2006).

Accordingly, mental health professionals (Fouladi et al., 2006) have called for an assessment instrument, preferably a self-report instrument, designed to evaluate the dynamics within father--child relationships. Others (Marsiglio, Amato, Day, & Lamb, 2000) have sought to specifically examine the interplay of behaviors and emotions experienced by fathers and their daughters. Furthermore, father--daughter transactions should be identified to provide therapeutic insights for adult women facing adjustment issues related to family of origin (Freud, 1988; Perkins, 2001; Secunda, 1992).

Through the development of the Merlino--Perkins Father--Daughter Relationship Inventory (MP-FDI), this research addresses the need to assess a daughter's childhood interactions with her father, interactions that may affect her adult development. The initial questions for research were specified as follows: (a) "Will a literature review provide sufficient information to develop an inventory specifically designed to assess interactions that women experienced with their fathers in childhood (5 to 16 years old)?" and (b) "Written as a self-report instrument, would the test items and scales bridge the gap between theoretical constructs and father--daughter anecdotal experiences?"

INITIAL SCALE DEVELOPMENT: LITERATURE REVIEW

Given the often overlooked father-parenting influence in child development theory and research, it was necessary to draw inferences regarding father-daughter relationships from relational theory based primarily on the mothering figure. …

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