Expressed emotion in homeless families: A methodological study of the five-minute speech sample

Angela J. Narayan, Janette E. Herbers, Elizabeth J. Plowman, Abigail H. Gewirtz, Ann S. Masten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Conducted in an emergency homeless shelter, this study aimed to validate parents' expressed emotion (EE) from the Five-Minute Speech Sample (FMSS) with observed parenting practices in a very high-risk population and examine how different aspects of parents' EE, including positive emotional expressions, related to observed parenting and children's school adjustment. Using 3 different coding approaches, we assessed the reliability and validity of 4 aspects of the FMSS-critical statements, positive statements, negative affect, and warmth-in relation to negative and positive parenting behaviors and children's behavioral and relational adjustment in school. The FMSS was administered to 39 parents about their 4- to 7-year-old children. Parent-child dyads participated in a 45-min videotaped sequence of games and tasks later coded for parenting behavior. Results indicated that parents' warmth during the FMSS was related to more positive and effective observed parenting behaviors. Critical statements and negative affect during the FMSS were related to more coercive parenting behaviors. Negative affect also was related to teachers' reports of children's increased externalizing behavior, less prosocial behavior with peers, and more conflict with teachers. Criticism maintained associations with observed parenting, even for parents who provided less than 5 min of speech. This study provides preliminary but promising evidence for the validity of FMSS scores in a high-risk sample of families and, specifically, for aspects of the FMSS to be efficient correlates of parenting behavior and aspects of children's school adjustment. Challenges, limitations, and promising features of the FMSS for use with highly disadvantaged parents are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-653
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Children's school adjustment
  • Expressed emotion
  • FMSS
  • Homelessness
  • Observed parenting practices


Dive into the research topics of 'Expressed emotion in homeless families: A methodological study of the five-minute speech sample'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this