PERSONAL CONSTRUCT PSYCHOLOGY AND MULTIDIMENSIONAL SCALING OF COGNITIVE STRUCTURES IN FIRST-TIME EXPECTANT PARENTS, ADOLESCENTS AND ADULTS

JEWEL E BRENNAN, Fordham University

Abstract

Becoming a parent has been identified as a critical task in the life cycle of most individuals. Even in optimal circumstances the transition to parenthood demands changes in self perception and role relationships that may be stressful to both sexes. Because Personal Construct Psychology and its assessment methodology, repertory grid techniques, provide a rationale for studying the construing process of elements related to personal experiences in situational contexts, it appeared to offer a strong paradigm for investigating expectant parenthood.^ The purpose of this study was twofold: (a) to investigate the construing processes of males and females as they construe elements about the situation of being an expectant parent for the first time, and (b) the application of repertory grid methodology in developing a reliable instrument for measuring the elements being construed by first-time expectant parents. This investigation focused on such issues as whether men and women approach experiences of expectant parenthood in the same way; a consideration of what specific elements might males and females associate with expectant parenthood; an analysis of how males and females cognitively structure such elements. The population sampled consisted of 113 randomly selected first-time expectant parents, including adolescents and adults of both sexes. An Expectant Parenthood Questionnaire, developed on principles of repertory grid technique, was the primary tool for data collection. Subjects ranked elements listed on an expectant parenthood situations grid by judging the psychological distance or closeness between constructs presented on the grid. This type of information is ordinal or monotonic. Since it could not be known in advance if the data provided had linear metric properties, multidimensional scaling procedures and the KYST computer program were applied.^ Minimal stress or error was achieved to a high degree after establishing consistency and stability by partitioning the data. Three dimensions were needed to explain the constructs under study. The major hypothesis, that males and females would construe differently the experience of first-time expectant parenthood, was strongly supported. Males and females in the group sampled were similar in their initial positive construing about learning they were to become parents. However, there was little commonality between the sexes in the choice of elements (what) or the manner of construing (how) on specific situations of expectant parenthood. Further investigation is needed before generalizing these results. ^

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

BRENNAN, JEWEL E, "PERSONAL CONSTRUCT PSYCHOLOGY AND MULTIDIMENSIONAL SCALING OF COGNITIVE STRUCTURES IN FIRST-TIME EXPECTANT PARENTS, ADOLESCENTS AND ADULTS" (1983). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8326163.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8326163

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