Research Instruments Used in Project
Marital and Family System Measures
Family Environment Scale (FES), all home interviews: A shortened version of this true-false self-report instrument (Moos, 1974) measures family cohesion, expressiveness, conflict, independence, achievement orientation, organization, and control. The FES is also used as the basis for the marital and family revealed difference exercises which is taped, then coded. And at Wave 2, both G1 and G2 mates are asked to answer the FES retrospectively, describing the family 25 years before, at the time of the first interview. Elder couples (G1s) also described their family of origin.
Family Paper Sculpture (FPS) (Bell, 1986; Bell & Bell, 2000, 2004), all family home interviews. This is both an exercise and an instrument used in the family interviews. Family members are given a variety of colored circles (to represent people), red and black strips of various length (to show similarity and differences between people) and blue yarn loops ("boundary markers") of various sizes. Family members are asked to jointly arrange the materials on a standardized white board in a way which describes their family. The family's FPS is photographed. Various measures are coded from the picture, e.g. marital boundaries, descriptions of mates as similar and/or different, closeness.
Mates' memories of their own parents' marital relationship, all Wave 2 home interviews, is measured by the Quality of Parents' Marital Relationship scale (Amato, 1991): "How often did your parents argue with (show affection to, do things together with, disagree with) each other; How close (to each other) were your parents emotionally?"
Intentional modeling, all Wave 2 home interviews. Parents (mates) at Wave 2 completed an instrument describing the ways in which they tried to be similar or different from their own parents. They listed up to 4 characteristics of their family of origin that they tried to replicate, and up to 4 that they wanted to change in their own family. After each list, they completed five-point scales describing the extent to which they were trying to be similar to or different from their family of origin in their family of procreation.
Self Report measure at Wave 1 of Communication between husband and wife. One item only, one of 9 items on a questionnaire designed by Larry Feldman. Each family member rated item from Very Good to Very Bad, 5-point scale.
Dyadic Adjustment Scale, Wave 2 Elder couples. Couples describe quality of the marriage and areas and amount of agreement around various topics (Spanier, 1976). Spanier identified four subscales of the DAS: dyadic consensus (mates agree about finances, recreation, religion, friends, philosophy, aims, goals, household tasks, etc.), dyadic satisfaction (How often do you quarrel, regret that you married, discuss divorce, think things are not going well between you, etc.), dyadic cohesion (How often do you do things together, talk, laugh, discuss, work on a project, etc.), and affectional expression (sex, showing affection).
Structured Interview with Elder Couples. Couples, together, are asked about memories of their family of origin, how they met, the wedding, stresses and supports for their own marriage, and their ideas about what makes for a good marriage.
Interaction Process Coding. Three instruments have been used to describe marital systems at the macro, meso and micro levels: the Global Coding Scheme (GCS, Bell, Cornwell, & Bell, 1983), the Rapid Couple Interaction Coding Scheme (RCISS, Gottman, 1994), and the Interaction Process Coding Scheme (IPCS, Bell, Bell, & Cornwell, 1982).
Global Coding Scheme (GCS). The GCS is used to evaluate the couple's and family's interactions on variables such as the ability of mates/family members to listen to each other and to support each other, the general affective climate of the marriage (warm, sad, happy, anxious, depressed), the couple's organizational style, their problem solving skills, and the kind and amount of conflict, and the over-all health of the marriage/family. This coding scheme was based originally on the Beavers-Timberlawn Family Evaluation Scale (Lewis et al, 1976) and the Family Behavioral Snapshot (Meyerstein, 1979). For the Family Global Coding Scheme there are two primary factors, Family Connection (warmth and support, depression (-), overt conflict (-) and humor) and Family Individuation (clear interpersonal boundaries, comfort with differences, covert conflict (-), effective problem-solving). We have not yet factor-analyzed the Marital Global Coding Scheme.
Rapid Couples Interaction Scoring System (RCISS). The RCISS measures negative dyadic concepts such as disgust, contempt, belligerence, anger, defensiveness, whining, and stonewalling, as well as positive interaction concepts such as interest, validation, affection, humor, and joy. The coding system has been validated against detailed micro-analytic codes as well as against related scales. We are using only the Speaker codes because our tapes are inappropriate for coding the listener (we can, then code positive/negative ratios, defensiveness and contempt, but not stonewalling. We may be able to get a measure of stonewalling from the IPCS where we coded back-channels; Gottman describes stonewalling as a lack of back-channeling).
Interaction Process Coding Scheme (IPCS). The IPCS measures marital and parenting interaction at the micro-analytic level. The IPCS was developed from the work of Mishler and Waxler (1968), Riskin (1964), Riskin and Faunce (1969), and Raush et al. (1974). It has four scales, Topic (on task, floor control), Orientation (question, assertion; feelings, behavior ( and whose), Support, and Acknowledgement. Only the Support and Acknowledgement scales have been coded for the couple at later life. The Support scale measures support by tone of voice, and also includes measures of anxiety and sadness. The Acknowledgement scale, based on Mishler and Waxler's scale (1968) and is coded at the statement level. Trained observers code marital and discussions from tapes and transcripts.
Parent - Child Relationships
We also have G1 parents' reports at Wave 1 of the relationship between the adolescent G2s and their grandparents (G0s). And a single item rated by all family members at Wave 1 concerning relationship between parents and children.
Parents and their own parents (All Wave 2 home interviews). Retrospective measures of mate's experiences as children. Parental support is measured by Elliot's five-item parental rejection scale (Brennan, 1974): "My mother/father really trusted (blamed, cared for) me".
Parents and their Children during Adolescence. Interaction process coding of Wave 1 (G1-G2 family) and Wave 2 (G2-G3 family) give measures of support and acknowledgement of parents toward each child. Also a self-report item (Feldman scale) in which each family member rates the quality of the communication between husband and children, and between wife and children at Wave 1.
Elder Parents and their Adult Children. From telephone interview of G1s and G2s at Wave 2. Support (e.g., "I call my daughter (son) up just to talk." "My son helps me if I call on him unexpectedly."). Individuation ("My mother/father wants me to be someone I am not." "My son and I have mutual respect for each other.") Connection ("I feel loved and cared for by my daughter." "My dad pays careful attention when I tell him about my life."). Also "How often do you have contact with" and "How close do you feel to" each parent (G2s), child (G1s). (and measure of geographic distance).
How often do you have contact with and how close do you feel to each siblings (G2s, telephone interview, Wave 2). Closeness and sibling patterns can also be measured from the FPS. And support and acknowledgement can be measured from interaction process coding (IPCS) of family interviews. And each family member's answer to how they feel about communication among the children (Feldman, Wave 1).
Individual functioning measures include education, occupation, ego development, attachment style, and well-being. We also have ego development, California Psychological Inventory (CPI) scales, sociometric measures, and grade and achievement test scores for one G2 daughter, measured during adolescence. And birth dates, education and ethnicity of G0s (G1s' parents, G2s' grandparents).
Psychological Well-being Scale: Bradburn, parents and their adolescent children, Wave 1 home interviews. A series of items, "During the past few weeks, did you feel particularly excited or interested in something, proud because someone complimented you, very lonely, bored, on top of the world, depressed or unhappy, etc." 10 items, scored on 4-point scales: two subscales: Happy and Unhappy (Bradburn, 1969).
Psychological Well-being Scale: Ryff (elder parents and their adult children, Wave 2 telephone interviews). We are using Ryff's 18-item scale during telephone interviews. The subscales are Self Acceptance, Environmental Mastery, Positive Relations, Purpose in Life, Personal Growth, and Autonomy (Ryff, 1989; Ryff & Keyes, 1995). We are presently working on papers showing the relationship between adolescent/mid-life family health, connection, and individuation to adult life well-being measures for the G2s.
Ego development (One daughter (G2) and mates (G1s) at Wave 1; elder mates (G2s), parents (G2s) and adolescents (G3s) during home interviews at Wave 2). A sentence completion exercise (Loevinger, 1966, 1993; Loevinger & Wessler, 1970) that measures stages of socio-emotional development. A shortened (16-item) version was completed by each parent at Wave 1. Coding was by experienced coders trained by Loevinger.
Attachment Style (Elder mates (G1s) and Mid-life parents (G2s) during home interviews at Wave 2. Individuals read four brief descriptions and rate themselves low to high on each. Then select the style most descriptive of them (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991).
Self Esteem: single item at Wave 1, Feldman, "The way you feel about yourself".
References for Research Instruments
Amato, P. R. (1991). Psychological distress and the recall of childhood family characteristics. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53, 1011-1019.
Bartholomew, K. & L. M. Horowitz. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social psychology, 61, 226-244.
Bell, D. C., Bell, L. G., & Cornwell, C. S. (1982). Interaction Process Coding Scheme . Houston: University of Houston. Available from the authors and from ERIC (ED 248 420).
Bell, L. G. (1986). Using the Family Paper Sculpture for education, therapy, and research. Contemporary Family Therapy, 8, 291-300.
Bell, L. G and D. C. Bell. (2000). Japanese and U.S. marriage experiences: Traditional and non-traditional perceptions of family, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 32., 309-319.
Bell, L. G., Cornwell, C. S. & Bell, D. C. (1983). Global Scales to Code Family Interaction. Houston: University of Houston ‹ Clear Lake. Available from ERIC (ED 248 420). Japanese scales (revised by D. C. Bell, L. G. Bell, H. Dendo, K. Kameguchi, and K. Kawanami) available from the authors.
Bell, L. G., Dendo, H., Nakata, Y., Bell, D. C., Munakata, T., and Nakamura, S. (2004). The experience of family in Japan and the United States: Working with the constraints inherent in cross-cultural research, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 35 (3) in press.
Bradburn, N. M. (1969). The structure of psychological well-being. Chicago: Aldine.
Brennan, T. (1974). Evaluation and Validation regarding the National Strategy for Youth Development. Bolder, CO: Behavior Research Evaluation Program.
Feldman, L. Larry Feldman, then at the Chicago Family Institute, provided us with a questionnaire he used for asking family members' opinions about various family relationships, e.g. communication between husband and wife, communication between husband and children, communication among children, the way you feel about yourself, the way you feel about your family. The instruction was "For each of the following relationships and issues, please indicate how things have been recently in your family." A six-point scale ranged from "Very Good" to "Very Bad."
Gottman, J. M. (1994). What Predicts Divorce?: The Relationship Between Marital Processes and Marital Outcomes. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Lewis, J. W., Beavers, R., Gossett, J. T. & Phillips, V. A. (1976). No Single Thread. New York: Brunner/Mazel.
Loevinger, J. & Wessler, R. (1970). Measuring ego development. Vol. 1: Use of a sentence completion test. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Loevinger, J. (1966). Meaning and measurement of ego development. American Psychologist, 21, 195-206.
Loevinger, J. (1993). Ego development: Questions of method and theory. Psychological Inquiry, 4, 56-63.
Meyerstein, I. (1979). The Family Behavioral Snapshot: A tool for teaching family assessment. American Journal of Family Therapy, 7(1): 48-56.
Mishler, E.G. and Waxler, N. E. (1968). Interaction in Families: An Experimental Study of Family Process and Schizophrenia. New York: Wiley
Moos, R. H. (1974). Family Environment Scale. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.
Riskin, J. M. (1964). Family interaction scales: A preliminary report. Archives of General Psychiatry, 11, 484-494.
Riskin, J. M., & Faunce, E. (1969). Family Interaction Scales Scoring Manual. Palo Alto: Mental Research Institute.
Raush, H. L., Barry, W. A., Hertel, R. K., & Swain, M. A. (1974). Communication, Conflict and Marriage. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1069-1081.
Ryff, C. D. and Keyes, C. L. M. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 719-727.
Spanier, G. (1976). Measuring Dyadic Adjustment. J. of Marriage and the Family, 38, 15-28.