A critical look at parenting research from the mainstream: Problems uncovered while adapting western research to non-western cultures

Sunita Mahtani Stewart, Michael Harris Bond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

75 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although there is some consensus among theorists regarding attributes of parents that associate with optimal child outcomes, translation of the theory into measures has been variable and inconsistent. These inconsistencies have been surprisingly little noted in the literature and present a particular problem to researchers seeking to study parenting in little examined cultures. This article describes these inconsistencies, and suggests some practical resolutions based on the writers' recent experience of studying parenting in Islamic cultures. Some dilemmas and choice points described are: the use of typologies vs. dimensions; measures of parenting styles vs. practices; the limited number of items in most current scales of 'style' as opposed to 'practice' domains; strategies to assess the validity of parenting practices when the culture-specific 'meaning' of the behaviour is not known; and the implications of the greater degree of gender differentiation in cultures studied. Steps proposed as criteria for assembling scales and determining psychometric acceptability when adapting measures to new cultures are outlined. It is the goal of this article to raise discussion both about the inconsistencies and lack of standardization of measures in the study of parenting, and about guidelines for future studies charting new territory. Such discussion is timely as developmental psychology takes on an increasingly global perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-392
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2002

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Parenting
Research
Hong Kong
Psychometrics
Consensus
Parents
Research Personnel
Guidelines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

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