James S. Jackson
Shirley J. Hatchett
Institute for Social Research
The University of Michigan
The realization that the context of human development and change is needed to understand complex individual behavior ( Baltes & Willis, 1977; Nesselroade, 1977) is leading to a greater focus on the family unit as the appropriate level for study and analysis ( Aldous & Hill, 1965; Bengtson & Cutler, 1976; Hagestad, 1981; Huston & Robins, 1982; Kitson, et al., 1982; Troll & Bengtson, 1979). Hagestad ( 1981) suggested that families are cultural units which form and create their own clusters of life patterns. For a full understanding of individuals who are enmeshed in these units, a social psychological approach to family lineage groups is needed.
Consensus exists among the relatively small but growing number of researchers in this area regarding the importance of understanding family lineage bonds and their reciprocal effects ( Bengtson, 1975; Beck & Jennings, 1975; Hagestad, 1981; Hill, 1970; Markides, Hoppe, Martin & Timbers, 1983; Thompson & Walker, 1982; Troll & Bengtson, 1979). However, this agreement regarding the need to study family lineages as complex social psychological units has not resulted in accepted methodological approaches, either in data collection or analysis strategies ( Bytheway, 1977; Huston & Robins, 1982; Thompson & Walker, 1982). Several recent papers have noted the failure of dyadic lineage research to address adequately the distinction between the individual and relationship properties, management of discrepant reports (the asymmetry problem), and problems of clearly distinguishing interdependence and independence in dyads ( Hagestad, 1982; Huston & Robins, 1982; Thompson & Walker, 1982; Thompson & Williams, 1984).