Twenty-five year follow-up of child-reading practices: Reliability of retrospective data

Department of Psychology, Indiana University Southeast, New Albany, IN 47150, USA
Personality and Individual Differences (Impact Factor: 1.86). 08/1993; 15(2):147-154. DOI: 10.1016/0191-8869(93)90021-T


A follow-up of participants in a study of speech development provided the opportunity to investigate (i) the reliability of retrospective accounts of the child-rearing environment, and (ii) personality bias in retrospective recall of child-rearing circumstances. Comparing original accounts of child-rearing to retrospective accounts is the most powerful design for examining the reliability of retrospective recall, yet it has been employed by only one other study. As part of the original study, parents completed a child-rearing questionnaire when their children were age 7, and the children completed the Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI) at age 16. Factor analysis of the child-rearing questionnaire identified four factors, Cohesiveness, Openness, Control and Punishment, for which scales were constructed. At follow-up, 147 parents and 119 children completed a retrospective child-rearing questionnaire as well as the EPI. The data showed that retrospective accounts were only moderately reliable but did not appear to be affected by personality bias.

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    • "We tested this by comparing original, contemporaneous accounts (reports made at the same time as the children's speech and language was developing, which are assumed to be accurate) to retrospective accounts. This is considered the most powerful design to test the reliability of retrospective report (Finkel and McGue 1993). "
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    ABSTRACT: Retrospective recall about children's symptoms is used to establish early developmental patterns in clinical practice and is also utilised in child psychopathology research. Some studies have indicated that the accuracy of retrospective recall is influenced by life events. Our hypothesis was that an intervention: speech and language therapy, would adversely affect the accuracy of parent recall of early concerns about their child's speech and language development. Mothers (n = 5,390) reported on their child's speech development (child male to female ratio = 50:50) when their children were aged 18 or 30 months, and also reported on these early concerns retrospectively, 10 years later, when their children were 13 years old. Overall reliability of retrospective recall was good, 86 % of respondents accurately recalling their earlier concerns. As hypothesised, however, the speech and language intervention was strongly associated with inaccurate retrospective recall about concerns in the early years (Relative Risk Ratio = 19.03; 95 % CI:14.78-24.48). Attendance at speech therapy was associated with increased recall of concerns that were not reported at the time. The study suggests caution is required when interpreting retrospective reports of abnormal child development as recall may be influenced by intervening events.
    Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 10/2013; 42(5). DOI:10.1007/s10802-013-9819-8 · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    • "Therefore, they concluded that twin studies of environmental variables largely reflect 'actual behavior' rather than 'only perceptions'. In a separate study, maternal reports of family environment were modestly to moderately correlated over a twenty-five year time span (Finkel & McGue, 1993). Second, despite the large sample size, power was an issue, as evidenced by the fact that the homogeneity and heterogeneity models fit similarly despite substantially different parameter estimates across the sexes and the lack of power to distinguish A and C in the univariate models. "
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