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The Parental Role: A Functional-Cognitive Analysis (Summary) NICHD

Emmerich, Walter
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Purdue University, Behavior Problems, Child Development, Child Rearing, Factor Analysis, Parent Role, Preschool Children, Questionnaires, Role Perception


The Parental Role Questionnaire (PRQ) was constructed to investigate several questions, at both the individual and group levels, from self-reports. Sets of positive (valued) child behaviors (Assertiveness, Friendliness, Independence, Obedience, Trustingness) and negative (disvalued) child behaviors (Aggression, Avoidance, Dependency, Overfriendliness, Submissiveness) were judged by parents as to their desirability- undesirability on 7-point scales. The problematic status of each of these child behaviors was independently assessed. Using 5- point scales, another section of the PRQ appraised the parents' beliefs about the effectiveness of the following child rearing methods for changing each of the above child behaviors: Behavior Modification (positive or negative reinforcement), Modeling (parent acts in way expected of the child), Motivational Modification (persuading the child), Situational Modification (changing the child's environment), and Nonintervention (doing nothing). The parent's perception of his own capacity to implement each of these methods in relation to each child behavior was also assessed. Subjects taking the questionnaire were 56 mothers and 47 fathers of children enrolled in a nursery school. All Ss were highly educated. Results provide support for viewing the parental role as a functional-cognitive system at both the individual and group levels, but further empirical work is needed to determine the scope and limits of many findings. It was emphasized that certain results are probably specific to the middle class, the preschool age period, and the questionnaire technique used in this study, calling for theoretical elaborations that extend the framework of this study. (JGL)

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