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Observation Studies of Parent-Child Interaction: A Methodological Review

Hugh Lytton
Child Development
Vol. 42, No. 3 (Sep., 1971), pp. 651-684
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1127439
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1127439
Page Count: 34
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Observation Studies of Parent-Child Interaction: A Methodological Review
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Abstract

This paper reviews parent-child interaction studies, the major source of information about the socialization process of the child. It deals fully with observation studies -naturalistic observation and experimentally arranged interaction in the laboratory-but also draws on interview and questionnaire methods for comparison. The issues discussed include: control of stimuli, recording behavior, conceptualization of summary variables, range and type of behavior sampled, acceptability of observation to parents, reliability and validity of data. The central objection of distortion of data attaches to all methods, though in different ways. The experimenter's dilemma consists in deciding, given his chief aims, which kind of distortion he is willing to tolerate, while doing his best to minimize it. Improvements in experimental design are noted and suggestions are made for future research.

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