Construction and initial validation of the parenting regulatory focus scale

Xiang Zhou, Richard M. Lee, Alisha Wackerle-Hollman, Le Ann Johnson, Keri L Pinna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: We present parenting regulatory focus as a theoretical framework to understand parenting goal motivations and describe the development and validation of a 16-item Parenting Regulatory Focus Scale. Background: Most parenting research is focused on parenting behaviors, but it is also important to understand the goal motivations behind parental approaches to raising children. Method: We used two independent samples (N1 = 856; N2 = 497) to validate the Parenting Regulatory Focus Scale as a two-factor structure composed of promotion- and prevention-based parenting regulatory focus. Across two studies, we tested the construct validity of the Parenting Regulatory Focus Scale through correlations with general regulatory focus, parents' personality traits, child temperament, parenting styles and behaviors, and child adjustment. Results: The scale scores demonstrated good internal reliabilities (αs =.86–.91), as well as 2-week (αpromotion =.65, αprevention =.77) and 6-month test–rest reliabilities (αpromotion =.61, αprevention =.66). Path analysis supported the relationship between parenting regulatory focus and child adjustment as mediated by parenting styles and behaviors. Conclusions and Implications: The Parenting Regulatory Focus Scale is a promising tool that can contribute to parenting research and tailoring of parenting interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1081-1101
Number of pages21
JournalFamily relations
Volume71
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Jo‐Ida Hansen Dissertation Fellowship, the Institute for Translation Research (ITR), and the Center for Personalized Prevention Research (CPPR) from the University of Minnesota.

Funding Information:
This article is based on the dissertation completed by Xiang Zhou. This research was funded by the Jo‐Ida Hansen Dissertation Fellowship, the Institute for Translation Research (ITR), and the Center for Personalized Prevention Research (CPPR) from the University of Minnesota.

Funding Information:
This work began when Xiang Zhou was in the Department of Psychology at the University of Minnesota. Keri Pinna is now at the non-profit. This article is based on the dissertation completed by Xiang Zhou. This research was funded by the Jo-Ida Hansen Dissertation Fellowship, the Institute for Translation Research (ITR), and the Center for Personalized Prevention Research (CPPR) from the University of Minnesota. This research was funded by the Jo-Ida Hansen Dissertation Fellowship, the Institute for Translation Research (ITR), and the Center for Personalized Prevention Research (CPPR) from the University of Minnesota. A total of 856 participants, who met the inclusion criterion of being a parent with at least one child between the ages of 3 and 25 years, were recruited at an information booth at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair. This broad age range in inclusion criteria was determined for its relevance to elicit parents' reflections on their past parenting, though participants with only adult children (n = 214; 25%) may not be as behaviorally involved as those with younger children. The study “Understanding Regulatory Focus in the Context of Parenting” (Protocol Number 1407S52363) was approved by the University of Minnesota Institutional Review Board. Participants were compensated with a drawstring backpack upon completion of the study. The average age of the sample was 47.44 years old (SD = 8.22), and 69% of respondents were women. The racial composition of the full sample was 90.6% White, 4.3% Asian, 2.4% multiracial, and other races (<1%). The racial breakdown approximates the racial demographics in Minnesota, except for African Americans, who comprise 6.0% of the state population. The majority of the participants (63.4%) had obtained a college degree or higher, and 56.4% of the respondents had an annual household income above $100,000, reflecting a high socioeconomic status. In terms of family composition, participants reported having one child (17.3%), two (48.3%), three (22.5%), four (8.0%), or more children (3.9%). Participants were prompted to randomly identify one child between the ages of 3 and 25 as the target child for the survey. The mean age of the target child was 15.60 years old (SD = 5.72) with 46.4% being boys. Participants were primarily biological parents (90.9%) as well as adoptive parents (5.4%), stepparents (2.1%), and other guardians (1.6%). Eighty-four target children were reported to have physical or mental disabilities, primarily with autism spectrum disorders and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders. A total of 856 participants, who met the inclusion criterion of being a parent with at least one child between the ages of 3 and 25 years, were recruited at an information booth at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair. This broad age range in inclusion criteria was determined for its relevance to elicit parents' reflections on their past parenting, though participants with only adult children (n = 214; 25%) may not be as behaviorally involved as those with younger children. The study “Understanding Regulatory Focus in the Context of Parenting” (Protocol Number 1407S52363) was approved by the University of Minnesota Institutional Review Board. Participants were compensated with a drawstring backpack upon completion of the study. The average age of the sample was 47.44 years old (SD = 8.22), and 69% of respondents were women. The racial composition of the full sample was 90.6% White, 4.3% Asian, 2.4% multiracial, and other races (<1%). The racial breakdown approximates the racial demographics in Minnesota, except for African Americans, who comprise 6.0% of the state population. The majority of the participants (63.4%) had obtained a college degree or higher, and 56.4% of the respondents had an annual household income above $100,000, reflecting a high socioeconomic status. In terms of family composition, participants reported having one child (17.3%), two (48.3%), three (22.5%), four (8.0%), or more children (3.9%). Participants were prompted to randomly identify one child between the ages of 3 and 25 as the target child for the survey. The mean age of the target child was 15.60 years old (SD = 5.72) with 46.4% being boys. Participants were primarily biological parents (90.9%) as well as adoptive parents (5.4%), stepparents (2.1%), and other guardians (1.6%). Eighty-four target children were reported to have physical or mental disabilities, primarily with autism spectrum disorders and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders. The purpose of Study 1 was to (a) develop items that reflected the construct of parenting regulatory focus, (b) investigate the factor structure of those items, and (c) examine the reliability and initial validity of the Parenting Regulatory Focus Scale. The construction and selection of the scale items were based on rational and clustering methods by developing items based on the operational definition of parenting regulatory focus and then eliminating the dimensions and items based upon factor analyses (Urbina, 2014). An initial item pool was created by an expert panel of four parenting researchers. They reviewed the parenting regulatory focus theory, including its theoretical model and current existing scales of general regulatory focus and parenting (e.g., Higgins et al., 2001; Lockwood et al., 2002; Robinson et al., 2001), and wrote items that reflect the current definitions for parenting regulatory focus. Items were reviewed by these experts and a group of research assistants for clarity, conciseness, and readability. Questionable items were further edited or dropped. An initial pool of 31 items was created and retained during development. A total of 856 participants, who met the inclusion criterion of being a parent with at least one child between the ages of 3 and 25 years, were recruited at an information booth at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair. This broad age range in inclusion criteria was determined for its relevance to elicit parents' reflections on their past parenting, though participants with only adult children (n = 214; 25%) may not be as behaviorally involved as those with younger children. The study “Understanding Regulatory Focus in the Context of Parenting” (Protocol Number 1407S52363) was approved by the University of Minnesota Institutional Review Board. Participants were compensated with a drawstring backpack upon completion of the study. The average age of the sample was 47.44 years old (SD = 8.22), and 69% of respondents were women. The racial composition of the full sample was 90.6% White, 4.3% Asian, 2.4% multiracial, and other races (<1%). The racial breakdown approximates the racial demographics in Minnesota, except for African Americans, who comprise 6.0% of the state population. The majority of the participants (63.4%) had obtained a college degree or higher, and 56.4% of the respondents had an annual household income above $100,000, reflecting a high socioeconomic status. In terms of family composition, participants reported having one child (17.3%), two (48.3%), three (22.5%), four (8.0%), or more children (3.9%). Participants were prompted to randomly identify one child between the ages of 3 and 25 as the target child for the survey. The mean age of the target child was 15.60 years old (SD = 5.72) with 46.4% being boys. Participants were primarily biological parents (90.9%) as well as adoptive parents (5.4%), stepparents (2.1%), and other guardians (1.6%). Eighty-four target children were reported to have physical or mental disabilities, primarily with autism spectrum disorders and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders. Participants' general regulatory focus was assessed by the Regulatory Focus Questionnaire (RFQ; Higgins et al., 2001). The RFQ is an 11-item, 5-point Likert-type measure with promotion (six items; α =.60; “I do well at different things that I try”) and prevention (five items; α =.80; “I obeyed rules and regulations that were established by my parents”) subscales. Past studies indicated good validity/good internal consistency (.80–.83) for the prevention subscale, but questionable/acceptable internal consistency (.65–.73) for the promotion subscale (Appelt & Higgins, 2010; Higgins et al., 2001). Three subscales from the Parent Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire (PSDQ; Robinson et al., 2001), a widely used parenting styles measure, assessed parenting styles on a 1 (never) to 5 (always) Likert-type scale, including autonomy granting (five items; α =.83; “allows child to give input into family rules”), regulation (five items; α =.77; “gives child reasons why rules should be obeyed”), and punitive dimensions (four items; α =.84; “uses threats as punishment with little or no justification”). The autonomy granting and regulation dimensions are subfactors from the authoritative parenting style factor, and the punitive dimension is a subfactor from the authoritarian parenting style factor. A review of 53 studies (Olivari et al., 2013) suggested the PSDQ was reliable for both authoritative (.71–.97) and authoritarian (.62–.95) factors, but questionably reliable for the submissive factor (.38–.89). Participants read two parenting vignettes constructed by the expert panel with hypothetical parenting scenarios similar to the parenting goals measure (Hastings & Grusec, 1998) to establish the Parenting Regulatory Focus Scale's concurrent validity. For each of our vignettes, parents were asked to choose between a promotion or a prevention message for the same parenting goal. In Vignette 1, participants were instructed to imagine they were a parent of a young child and wanted to stop their child from jaywalking. Participants were then asked to choose between either a promotion message framing that “you might get hurt and then not be able to play the rest of the summer” or the prevention message framing that “you might get hurt and get a ticket for breaking the law.” In Vignette 2, participants were instructed to imagine they wanted to encourage their children to attend a good college. Participants were then presented with either a promotion message framing that “going to college will be a great opportunity for you to grow. You will be able to try new things and take some risks to pursue your dream” or a prevention message framing that “going to college will be an important step toward your future security. You will need to do what is expected and learn to become responsible.” The sample was randomly divided into Subsample 1 of approximately 25% of cases (n = 233) and Subsample 2 of 75% of cases (n = 623). In Subsample 1, exploratory factor analysis (EFA) with one-, two-, three-, and four-factor solutions was conducted. All analyses in this manuscript were conducted in R. The 233 observations in Subsample 1 for EFA provided a ratio of 7.52 cases per item, thus fulfilling a minimum requirement of 5 cases per item for factor analysis (Pituch & Stevens, 2015). The number of factors was selected based on the theory of parenting regulatory focus (PRF), the scree plot, and total variances explained. The one-factor solution explained 45.20% of the total variances. Adding the second, third, and fourth factor explained another 13.00%, 5.02%, and 4.04% of the total variances, respectively. Thus, the two-factor solution was selected. To ensure the stability of factors, parallel analysis (O'Connor, 2000) was also conducted with principal axis extraction, which also suggested the stability of a two-factor solution. In the two-factor solution via EFA with oblimin rotation and principal axis extraction (Table 1), items were selected with loadings larger than.4, and Items 18 and 21 were deleted due to poor and cross loadings. Note: Bolded values were items with larger than.4 loadings. Items were rated on a 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree) Likert-type scale with the instruction “As you think about your goals for the target child, please rate the extent which you agree with the following statements. It is important for your child ….” In Subsample 2, based upon the prior factor structure, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was fitted using the R lavaan package (Version 0.5–12; Rosseel, 2012) to increase the model fit and reduce the number of scale items. Maximum likelihood estimation was used to handle missing data, which were less than 2%. In the final model (Table 2), eight items were selected for each subscale based on the theory of PRF and modification indices (i.e., dropping items that can maximumly increase the model fit) in the CFA model. Promotion- and prevention factors were correlated (r =.37, p <.001). Root-mean-square error of approximation (RMSEA) =.073, comparative fit index (CFI) =.942, and standardized root-mean-square (SRMR) =.064, which indicated an acceptable model fit using cut-off scores suggested by Hu and Bentler (1999; i.e., RMSEA <.08 as acceptable, CFI >.90 as acceptable, and SRMR <.08 as good). Subsequent analyses were based upon Subsample 2. To evaluate the reliability of the Parenting Regulatory Focus Scale, both Cronbach's alphas and McDonald's omegas (Dunn et al., 2014) were calculated for the promotion (α =.91; ω =.92) and prevention PRF (α =.90; ω =.89), indicating high internal consistency of the two subscale scores. Table 3 presents the means, standard deviations, and correlations of all studied variables, as well as partial correlations after controlling for the shared variances between promotion- and prevention-based parenting regulatory focus. For convergent validity, promotion parenting regulatory focus correlated with general promotion regulatory focus, and prevention parenting regulatory focus correlated with general prevention regulatory focus. However, the relatively low magnitude of correlation coefficients between PRF and RFQ subscales suggest PRF may differ from the classic notion of general regulatory focus. Note: Pearson product moment correlation coefficients are above the diagonal. Partial correlations after controlling for the shared variance between promotion and prevention PRF are below the diagonal. Pair-wise deletion was applied. PRF = parenting regulatory focus; RFQ = Regulatory Focus Questionnaire. p <.05. **p <.01. ***p <.001. Three sets of hierarchical regressions were performed using PSDQ subscales as outcome variables to examine PRF's incremental validity. In Step 1, promotion and prevention RFQ scores were entered. In Step 2, promotion and prevention PRF scores were further added. Compared to Step 1, PRF subscales significantly explained more variances among parenting styles of autonomy (R2 =.04, ΔR2 =.03, ΔF = 9.25, p <.001), regulation (R2 =.11, ΔR2 =.09, ΔF = 32.99, p <.001), and punitive dimensions (R2 =.18, ΔR2 =.15, ΔF = 11.42, p <.001) above and beyond RFQ. Promotion PRF was a significant predictor for regulation (b =.06, SE =.03, p =.04) and punitive dimensions (b = −.19, SE =.04, p <.001). Prevention PRF was a significant predictor for autonomy (b =.09, SE =.03, p =.002), regulation (b =.18, SE =.03, p <.001), and punitive dimensions (b =.09, SE =.04, p =.02). These hierarchical regressions provide evidence in supporting the incremental validity of a domain-specific measure PRF, above and beyond a general regulatory focus, to predict parenting styles. Lastly, to explore PRF's concurrent validity, promotion and prevention PRF scores were fitted into two logistic regressions to predict participants' choices in each hypothetical parenting vignette. For Vignette 1 on jaywalking, the logistic regression model was significant (χ2 = 17.25, p <.001, Nagelkerke R2 =.04). Only prevention PRF was a significant predictor (B = −.41, odds ratio [OR] =.67, p <.001), suggesting with one unit increase in prevention PRF, the odds ratio was.33 lower to choose a promotion message over a prevention message. For Vignette 2 on going to college, the logistic regression model was significant (χ2 = 13.20, p <.01, Nagelkerke R2 =.03). Both promotion (B =.25, OR = 1.28, p <.05) and prevention PRF (B = −.44, OR =.65, p <.01) were significant. With one unit increase in promotion PRF, the odds ratio was.28 higher to choose a promotion over a prevention message. With one unit increase in prevention PRF, the OR was.35 lower to choose a promotion over a prevention message. These findings suggest PRF scales may tap into different parenting behaviors in achieving the same goal.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 National Council on Family Relations.

Keywords

  • parenting
  • parenting styles and behaviors
  • regulatory focus
  • scale construction

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