Agreement in Youth-Parent Perceptions of Parenting Behaviors: A Case for Testing Measurement Invariance in Reporter Discrepancy Research

Russell, Justin; Graham, Rebecca; Neill, Erin; Weems, Carl
October 2016
Journal of Youth & Adolescence;Oct2016, Vol. 45 Issue 10, p2094
Academic Journal
While conventional wisdom suggests that parents and their adolescent offspring will often disagree, the nature of discrepancies in informant reports of parenting behaviors is still unclear. This article suggests testing measurement invariance in an effort to clarify if discrepancies in informant scores reflect true differences in perspectives on the same construct, or if the instrument is simply not measuring the same construct across parents and youth. The study provides an example by examining invariance and discrepancy across child, adolescent, and parent reports on the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire. The sample for this study was 255 youth (51.4 % male) aged 6-17 years ( M = 12.3 years) and an accompanying parent. A five-factor model of the measure was found to provide approximately equivalent measurement across four participant groups (children under 12 years, adolescents aged 12-18 years, and parents of each group, respectively). Latent mean levels of reported parenting constructs varied greatly across informants. Age moderated the association between reports of two subscales, Parental Involvement and Positive Parenting, such that adolescents were more consistent with parents. The findings highlight the utility of testing measurement invariance across informants prior to evaluating differences in their reports, and demonstrate the benefits of considering invariance in the larger conversation over informant discrepancies.


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