Family Models: Comparing and Contrasting the Olson Circumplex Model with the Beavers Systems Model

W. R. Beavers, M. N. Voeller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

112 Scopus citations


There is an increasing interest in and need for family models. One such model is the Olson Circumplex Model, previously reported in this journal (). This model is compared and contrasted with the Beavers Systems Model, which was also developed from empirical data and has had extensive use in family assessment. Though both are cross‐sectional, process‐oriented, and capable of providing structure for family research, we believe there are certain shortcomings in the Olson model that make it less clinically useful than the Beavers Systems Model. These include definitional problems and a total reliance on curvilinear dimensions with a grid approach to family typology that does not acknowledge a separation/individuation continuum. Our model avoids these deficiencies and includes a continuum of functional competence that reflects the development and differentiation of many living systems, including the family.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-97
Number of pages13
JournalFamily Process
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1983


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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