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An exploratory study of family role structures and cognitive complexity



Graduation date: 1979The purposes of this study were to explore the relationship of\ud cognitive complexity to norms and sanctions for the traditional family\ud roles; to investigate intergenerational relationships involving\ud roles and cognitive structures and to estimate the reliability of\ud the questions from the Washington Role Inventory regarding norms\ud and sanctions for the provider, housekeeper, child care and child\ud socialization roles. The following hypotheses were tested:\ud Hypothesis 1: There will be a positive relationship between\ud traditional family norms and cognitive simplicity\ud for females.\ud Hypothesis 2: There will be a positive relationship between more\ud negative sanctions and cognitive simplicity for\ud females.\ud Hypothesis 3: Parental norms, parental sanctions and parental\ud cognitive complexity scores will be significant\ud predictors of the daughter's cognitive complexity\ud scores.\ud Fifty six female students from two Family Life classes at Oregon\ud State University participated in the study. Thirty mothers and 23\ud fathers of these students also answered the questionnaires which had\ud been mailed to them. The Washington Role Inventory and Bieri's REP\ud Test were the instruments used to collect data regarding role norms\ud and sanctions and cognitive complexity. In addition, demographic\ud information was also collected from each subject. The students\ud filled out the questionnaires in class, addressed envelopes to their\ud parents and wrote a short letter to their parents asking them to also\ud participate. An introductory letter and questionnaires were then\ud mailed to the parents of each student. One follow up letter was\ud mailed two weeks later. Fifty percent of the parents, 30 mothers and\ud 23 fathers, returned completed questionnaires. After a 3 week period\ud students were again Asked to fill out the questions from the\ud Washington Role Inventory as a measure of test-retest reliability.\ud The test-retest reliability of the questions from the Washington\ud Role Inventory was estimated using Kendall's Tau rank order correlation\ud coefficient. Hypothesis 1 was tested using t-tests of the differences\ud between the student's mean REP scores as they were classified by\ud responses regarding who should perform each role. For hypothesis 2\ud analyses of variance were used to test if there were significant\ud differences between response groups for each of the sanction items.\ud Stepwise multiple regression techniques using the mothers' and father'\ud responses separately and then combined were employed in the analysis of\ud the data for hypothesis 3.\ud The test-retest reliability estimates for the role norm and sanction\ud items were all significant (p<.001), indicating consistency in the\ud students' responses over the 3 week period. The t-tests revealed no\ud significant differences in the students' mean REP scores for the\ud different normative responses for the traditional family roles.\ud There were no significant differences between the response categories\ud for the sanction items regarding the husband's or wife's performance\ud of each role. The regression equation using only the fathers' data\ud included three variables, the father's provider norms, and sanctions\ud for a husband's housekeeper and child care roles. These variables\ud together accounted for approximately 60% of the variance in the\ud daughter's REP score. The regression equation for the mothers' data\ud included the mother's REP Test score and norms for who should socialize\ud girls, plus her sanctions for the wife's provider and child\ud care roles. Approximately 38% of the variation in the daughter's\ud REP scores was accounted for by these variables. When the responses\ud from the mothers and fathers were combined the regression equation\ud accounted for 78% of the variation in the daughter's cognitive\ud complexity score. The variables included were the father's provider\ud norms, the mother's cognitive complexity score, the father's sanctions\ud regarding the husband's housekeeper role and the mother's sanctions\ud for the wife's housekeeper role.\ud These findings indicate that several variables related to\ud family role relationships are associated with cognitive complexity.\ud Further research in the areas of parental cognitive structures and\ud the development of role structures could explore these relationships\ud even further

Year: 1978
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