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Parenting Styles Researching: Analytical Techniques


In qualitative research, it is paramount to utilize specific methods and techniques in order to obtain reliable and useful results. This paper considers the use of the observational method for analyzing video recordings depicting parent-child interaction and compares this method with two other techniques, namely, conversation analysis and coding.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of the Observational Method and Cohen’s Kappa Calculation

The observational method, which involves observing and describing behaviors of individuals, rather often – in relatively natural, non-constrained conditions, – is commonly employed in psychological studies (Coolican, 2014; Corbin & Strauss, 2015). As with any research method, it is characterized by a number of advantages and disadvantages (Hewstone, Stroebe, & Jonas, 2015).

Some of the advantages of this method include a) the production of immediate information describing the real behavior instead of biased self-reports; b) the possibility to collect data pertaining to behaviors which cannot be studied using experiments (e.g., infant behavior); c) the chance to gain information about genuine behaviors which are not distorted by the laboratory setting (Coolican, 2014, p. 140). Simultaneously, there are several disadvantages of this method, such as a) the possibility that the behaviors of subjects will be influenced by the awareness that they are observed; b) the quality of being time-consuming, particularly in cases when participant observation is conducted; c) virtual impossibility to identify the causal relationship between the observed phenomena (Coolican, 2014).

Cohen’s kappa is a statistic that allows for assessing the interrater reliability of observations (i.e., to what degree the assessments of an observed situation made by different raters are similar) (Cozby & Bates, 2015). This statistic is more robust than simply calculating the percentage of agreement, for it considers the possibility of agreement occurring by chance. However, there might exist some difficulties when interpreting the agreement coefficients; in fact, it is argued that it may be more productive to evaluate the disagreement between raters (Pontius & Millones, 2011).

The use of Baumrind’s parenting styles permits for categorizing the methods used by parents into one of the three broad categories of parenting (authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive parenting styles) for their further in-depth evaluation (Smetana, 2017). However, it might sometimes be difficult to classify a set of given child-parent interactions into one of the three Baumrind’s parenting styles.

Other Possible Methods for Analyzing the Video Recordings

Conversation Analysis

Conversation analysis involves formulating a research problem and analyzing audio- or video-recorded conversations (taking place without the involvement of the researcher) and their detailed transcripts in order to create data-driven analysis aimed at discovering the recurring patterns of interaction between the research subjects and formulating a model or rule so as to explain these patterns (Sidnell & Stivers, 2013).

The advantages of conversation analysis include the fact that it allows for a detailed evaluation of the interaction of the subjects from a particular point of view determined by the research problem, thus permitting for an in-depth assessment of the analyzed situation and for discovering the reasons behind the observed patterns of interaction (Sidnell & Stivers, 2013). The disadvantages of this method include the fact that patterns of interaction that are not essential for the selected research problem may be missed in the process of analysis.

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Coding is an analytical technique, the crux of which is the identification of themes (“codes”) in the given text with the purpose of finding the recurring themes in that text, creating a hierarchy of themes and subthemes, and, ultimately, identifying the recurring patterns and themes across a range of texts (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016). The word “text” here is used in a broad sense – e.g., it may be a written text, a video- or audio-recording, etc.

The advantages of coding include the fact that it allows for comparing a wide range of seemingly unrelated situations and finding the recurring patterns of action or interaction of the subjects who are studied. The disadvantages of this technique include the fact that coding is a rather subjective process, and various researchers may identify very different themes in the analyzed texts (Saldaña, 2013); although this allows for an array of interpretations, it means that there will probably be no “ultimate” or “objective” results of such an analysis.

Effects of Using Different Types of Analysis for Researching Parenting Styles

The use of an observational method (in general) for the purpose of analyzing parenting styles in video recordings in the given case permitted for creating a general image of the parenting styles employed in the provided recordings, and assessing these styles according to a pre-determined category (Breakwell, Smith, & Wright, 2012).

Simultaneously, the use of conversation analysis might have allowed for discovering the common patterns in the parenting styles which were displayed, therefore understanding their relationship to a certain pre-formulated research problem. Finally, the utilization of the coding method may have permitted for identifying the recurring themes in the depicted situations, thus providing a broad picture of the parent-child interactions practiced by the participants of the videos (Saldaña, 2013). Thus, the use of the described methods should depend on the goals with which the analysis is conducted.


On the whole, it should be stressed that different analytical techniques may be employed in order to analyze video recordings of parent-child interaction. The choice of the method for a particular study should depend upon the goals of that study and the nature of its desired results.


Breakwell, G. M., Smith, J. A., & Wright, D. B. (2012). Research methods in psychology (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Coolican, H. (2014). Research methods and statistics in psychology (6th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

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Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2015). Basics of qualitative research (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Cozby, P. C., & Bates, S. C. (2015). Methods in behavioral research (12th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Hewstone, M., Stroebe, W., & Jonas, K. (Eds.). (2015). An introduction to social psychology (6th ed.). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.

Merriam, S. B., & Tisdell, E. J. (2016). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Pontius, R. G., & Millones, M. (2011). Death to Kappa: Birth of quantity disagreement and allocation disagreement for accuracy assessment. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 32(15), 4407-4429.

Saldaña, J. (2013). The coding manual for qualitative researchers (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Sidnell, J., & Stivers, T. (Eds.). (2013). The handbook of conversation analysis. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Smetana, J. G. (2017). Current research on parenting styles, dimensions, and beliefs. Current Opinion in Psychology, 15, 19-25.

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