Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The purpose of the present study was to determine the degree of commonality among current models of family assessment. The goal was to ascertain the most significant dimensions of family functioning. These ends were achieved by means of a principal components factor analysis. Three hundred Introductory Psychology students at Louisiana State University were asked to describe their family of origin using 240 behavioral statements provided by the examiner. The statements, printed on 3 x 5 cards, were drawn from a pool of assessment models described by Fisher (1976). The students were asked to sort each of the statements by asking themselves, "How characteristic or descriptive is this behavior of my family?", and by placing the card in one space along the nine-point continuum. Results indicated a moderate degree of agreement among the current models of family assessment. Moreover, the data suggested that the models could be consolidated and described in terms of eight dimensions of family functioning descriptions: (1) Descriptions relating to family identity, stability, and integrity; (2) a family interaction pattern marked by an emphasis on emotionality and support; (3) behavior relating to mutuality in the parenting and marital roles; (4) a family system marked by lack of open communication, aloofness of members, and rigidity; (5) descriptions related to family therapy and treatment issues; (6) acceptance of independent, assertive, and non-conforming behavior among family members; (7) maintenance of role- and rule-bound behavior; and (8) identity issues independent of roles of family members. Two metadimensions of assessment were also determined via second-order factor analysis: (I) Family Function descriptions, and (II) Family Dysfunction descriptions. These results were assessed for generalizability using separate sample of fifty students from American River College in Sacramento, California, and limited replicability was demonstrated. Suggestions for future research were discussed.