Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 13–27 | Cite as

The Retrospective Family Unpredictability Scale: Reliability and Validity

  • Lisa Thomson Ross
  • Jennifer A. McDuff
Original Paper


Family unpredictability or inconsistency may be responsible, in part, for the detrimental outcomes associated with parental divorce, parental alcoholism, and family poverty. We assessed behavior patterns and regulatory systems in one’s family of origin for the purposes of developing the Retrospective Family Unpredictability Scale (Retro-FUS). In the first study (N = 416, 89% Caucasian, 59% female), confirmatory factor analysis indicated a six-factor solution was appropriate and the six subscales (meals, money, mother nurturance, father nurturance, mother discipline, and father discipline) were reliable. A second study (N = 305, 82% Caucasian, 77% female) demonstrated that Retro-FUS scores related to other conceptually similar factors. Specifically, Retro-FUS scores were higher among participants reporting these factors while growing up: parental divorce, family economic adversity, more neighborhood crime, and a greater likelihood of parental alcoholism. Thus, the Retro-FUS appears to be a multi-dimensional, retrospective measure of family unpredictability that demonstrates internal consistency and preliminary construct validity. We discuss implications for research and clinical applications as well as ideas for further research using the Retrospective Family Unpredictability Scale.


Family unpredictability Chaos Divorce Alcoholism 



We thank Nita Weitzel, Katharine Linder, and Maribeth Veal for collection and coding of data. Their time is much appreciated. The Retrospective Family Unpredictability Scale is available from the first author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCollege of CharlestonCharlestonUSA
  2. 2.School of Social WorkUniversity of MarylandBaltimoreUSA

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