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Reliability of the Parental Bonding
Instrument and Intimate Bond Measure
Scales
ARTICLE in AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY · JULY 1990
Impact Factor: 3.41 · DOI: 10.3109/00048679009077683 · Source: PubMed

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Kay A Wilhelm
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Prince Henry Hospital.96 across the four scales.58 to 0.63 for the protection scale over a three-week interval. Subsequently. In the initial development paper [ 11. Little Bay. Such reliability data are compared with reliability data on a number of personality measures within the same cohort.77.76 for the care scale and 0. PBI scores showed no significant change over time and the coefficients of agreement ranged from 0.RELIABILITY OF THE PARENTAL BONDING INSTRUMENT AND INTIMATE BOND MEASURE SCALES Aust NZ J Psychiatry Downloaded from informahealthcare. were judged to reflect the greater motivation of patients (in comparison to volunteer or importuned non-clinical groups) to return questionnaire data conscientiously. MD. PhD.92) were returned over a nine-weekinterval [ 2 ] . FRANZCP. Professor of Psychiatry Correspond with Dr Wilhelm significantly improved. 48 depressives scored the PBI when depressed and some four-six weeks later when significantly improved.com by University New South Wales on 12/10/13 For personal use only. 24:199-202 The Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI) was developed to measure fundamental parental dimensions of care and protection (control) and to allow quantification of any parental contribution to subsequent psychiatric disorder. with data being examined over eleven and five years for the two respective measures. Staff Psychiatrist Gordon Parker.87 to 0. with correlation coeffi- . compared to the initial sample. Reliability aspects (internal consistency and short-term test-retest reliability) were examined in the initial paper [ 11 and its validity. in a US study [3] of depressed outpatients attending the Yale Depression Research unit. If the PBI is a reliable and valid measure of subjects’ retrospective memories of their parents in their first sixteen years. Results demonstrate considerable stability in the PBI over an extended period and moderate stability in IBM scores. Kay Wilhelm and Gordon Parker The long-term reliability of the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI) and of the Intimate Bond Measure (IBM) are examined in a non-clinical group. then adult subjects should return consistent scores over time (ie show high test-retest reliability). with their judgement and ability to complete the self-report questionnaire impaired. much higher correlation coefficients (ranging from 0. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 1990. has been examined in several studies [ 2 ] .90 to 0. slightly superior to the Australian depressed sample. This interpretation is supported by a n American study [5] of 26 subjects with schizophrenia who completed the PBI form on two occasions a few weeks apart. FRANZCP. both as a measure of perceived and actual parenting. The short-term reliability of the PBI has been examined in several studies. test-retest reliability in a non-clinical sample was 0. NSW Kay Wilhelm. Subsequently. Test-retest reliability in a group of patients with schizophrenia has been examined [4] when the coefficients of agreement ranged from 0. in a sample of depressives initially depressed and then Division of Psychiatry.The higher coefficients in this group. This less impressive result was judged to be a reflection of the sample initially scoring the PBI shortly after admission to hospital with an exacerbation of their schizophrenia.

the IBM being more a measure of state or current characteristics. we report data on the Wilson-Lovibond state measure of depression [ 151 to again allow comparison against the “trait” measures. in particular. the Rosenberg self-esteem scale.Aust NZ J Psychiatry Downloaded from informahealthcare. that subjects would not necessarily be scoring the same “intimate” on both occasions. more importantly. [ 111 the dependency scale from the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire [ 121. That is. Finally. reliability coefficients should be similar to those returned on personality measures. We also take the opportunity to report test-retest reliability over the same extended period for a number of other measures.81 on the PBI for a non-clinical U. with three intervals (1978-1983. so that we report consistency data for the whole sample and for a sub-sample of those who were married in 1988 and had rated the same “intimate” in 1983 . Thus. allowing us to compare PBI data collected over extended periods. and the level of constancy over time. Results Table 1 reports the mean data returned for the several measures. On each occasion the subjects were requested to complete the orthodox PBI forms (assessing parenting over the first 16 years).89. or not depressed on either occasion.S.88. if personality is immutable. with reliability coefficients being very high at 0. the students were not informed about the specific hypothesis. the last being administered in 1983 and 1988 only. such reports are rare and. In the only published study [7] of the long-term reliability of the PBI. Only the maternal PBI form was completed by subjects. being weakened only by response biases and state effects (eg depression) which are generally accepted to influence self-report scoring. In this paper we examine the test-retest reliability of the PBI over a decade. In September 1978. the Intimate Bond Measure (or IBM) was assessed in the initial paper. and the Bem sex role inventory [ 141 (with masculinity. subjects were asked to score characteristics of the intimate “in recent times”. and self-report data were obtained from 164 in 1983 and 163 in 1988. sample tested seven months apart. anticipating that much lower levels of agreement should be demonstrated on a state measure over time. femininity and social desirability sub-scales). On each occasion. however. but were given details on the range of topics (including depression) and developmental issues that would be assessed longitudinally. those data provide some basis for comparison against the PBI and IBM. with correlation coefficients ranging from 0. The sample has been described elsewhere [8] and so details only will be summarized here. and not assessed during a relapse. we would expect that if the PBI is a reliable measure.80 and 0. It is generally suggested that personality is constant and we might therefore expect that high test-retest reliability would be demonstrated for personality measures and give a base quantitative estimate of reliability against which we could judge PBI data. The test-retest reliability of that selfreport.79 to 0. The personality measures considered were the Eysenck Personality Inventory neuroticism scale [ 101. It must be kept in mind. and the authors reported that PBI scores were “remarkably stable over time” for different sub-groups of mothers who were either depressed on both occasions of testing. Those subjects completed PBI data and 170 agreed to take part in the longitudinal study. then having a mean age of 23. and so formed the study cohort. and who were then completing a one-year training programme at the Sydney Teachers’ College were approached in class and invited to participate in a longitudinal study. with a non-clinical sample returning data on two occasions over a three-six week interval. women were studied in the post-partum period and then two to four years (mean 30 months) later. Medium-term reliability data have been provided [6]. Firstly.a fairer test of the measure’s reliability. we sought to interview the cohort serially. Subsequently. initially depressed and then recovered.com by University New South Wales on 12/10/13 For personal use only. 200 RELIABILITY OF THE PBI AND IBM SCALES cients ranging from 0.380 students who had undertaken a basic Arts or Science university course. with this sample being distinguished by the sample being selected from those attending a community mental health centre. Those taking part and those declining did not differ in PBI scores returned for each parent. and . While our key objective was to examine for sex differences in depressive experience over time. The authors have also developed a measure of fundamental dimensions underlying adult intimate relationships [9].1 years. That measure was given to our present cohort in 1983 and in 1988 and we now report the test-retest reliability over a five-year interval.79 to 0. 1983-1988. We do that for several reasons. then self-report measures of personality should show a high level of constancy. the Costello-Comrey trait depression scale [ 131 which was designed to measure a “person’s tendency to experience a depressive mood”.

Presumably because of the large sample size (for mean scores were very similar).2 4.0 N/A 0.48 N/A 6. The test-retest consistency in PBI scores is extremely impressive for all three test intervals. P<0. being a non-clinical sample.05) measures.9 13.69 0.80.1 26. Scores were generally more consistent in the interval 1983-1988.61 0. ns).72 0.23 0. in that it involved a non-clinical group.43 0.5 0.21.74 (1978-1983).7 12.65 0. we acknowledge the unique characteristics of . but less distinct fashion.8 21. the correlation coefficients for the PBI were superior to each individual personality test.76 0.3 14.4 11.6 52.2 N/A 0.56. when the cohort had left university and most were in full-time employment.0 8.64 0. P<O. Stability in IBM scores (both for the whole sample and for the subgroup scoring the same partner) was moderate from 1983 to 1988 and clearly less stable than PBI scores. the test-retest reliability of the state depression measure was low.49 N/A 31. two significant differences were established for the PBI and the IBM measures.3 0.6 52. both on the trait (t = 2.05).77 (1983-1988) and 0. In a similar.64 0.7 5.05) while IBM care scores decreased from 1983 to 1988 (t=2.80 0.7 1.8 21.82 0. judged to be generous in giving their time for extended interviews and open in their discussion with the interviewers.8 5. Additionally.6 29. P< 0.com by University New South Wales on 12/10/13 For personal use only.7.5 30. 0. p<0. 0.62 N/I N/A 0.5 7.001) but no change from 1983 to The sample allows a “best estimate” of reliability.1988) being examined. Table I .7 29.6 4. Thus.9 N/A 0.3 31.82 0.12. at each review period. as might be anticipated for a state measure.7 0.25 0.74 0.OOI) and from 1978 to 1988 (t = 5. PcO. p<0.03.86.54 0.2 8.3 13.9 53.61 0.5 0.1 ‘ N/A = not assessed ’* Those nominating the same intimate in 1983 and 1988 (N=96) ’** Higher scores indicate lower self-esteem 1978.KAY WILHELM AND GORDON PARKER Aust NZ J Psychiatry Downloaded from informahealthcare.49 N/A Personality qeuroticism Self-esteem’”* lependency rraitdepression 9. the mean correlation coefficients were 0. contrasting with the four personality measures which returned mean correlations of 0.50 N/A 6.0 4.4 0. 0. Finally.67 0 5 BM ntimate care wholegroup) ntimate control wholegroup) ntirnate care sub-group)” ntimate control sub-group) N/A* N/A N/A N/A 30. presumably reflecting changes in attitudes over the lengthier assessment period. Consistency in scores examined over time Mean score Consistency coefficients (r) 1978 1983 1988 A 0 A with with with (A) (6) (C) 26. we judge that sample members were likely to have completed self-report measures conscientiously and as accurately as possible.6: 0.9 c c PBI Aaternal care inaternal protection ’aternal care 'sternal protection 0.4 0.05) and state (t = 2. Discussion Sex role Inventory Masculinity Femininity Socialdesirability 20 1 N/A N/A N/A 57.57 N/I 55. Thus.68 0.87. Mean scale scores were generally stable for most measures apart from self-esteem. depression scores decreased from 1978 to 1988. it is unlikely that mood disturbance or related factors weakening reliability estimates would have been over-represented in the sample. Additionally.3 N/A 0.56 NII N/A 0.2 55. Thus.7 4. Thus paternal protection scores dropped from 1978 to 1988 (t = 2.0 26. which showed a distinct improvement from 1978 to 1983 (t = 4. The data for the 1 I-year interval (1978-1988) show slightly less consistency.7 0.50 respectively. as anticipated.5 N/A 6.64 0.0 1. comprising volunteers who were prepared to take part in a longitudinal study and who were.2 13.8 31.8 21.64 and 0.4 Statedepression 1988 (t = 0.65 (1978-1988).82. The data set therefore offers a “best estimate” potential for any examination of reliability and it would be unlikely that non-volunteer or certain clinical groups would return such high levels of agreement.

54 over the four-six years and 0. 13. The measurement of psychological androgyny. While change in parenting over the years might also be theoretically anticipated. Adult psychosocial assets and depressive mood over time: Effects of internalized childhood attachments. Brennan J. Richman. Jurd S. JA. Parker G. The development of a measure of intimate bonds. Prusoff BA. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 1989. 9. supporting its claim to be accurate measure of perceived parenting.42:155-162. 153:344-353. 5. 10. Society and the adolescent self-image. Blatt SJ. and referenced work giving a correlation of 0. Parker G. Costello CG and Comrey AL. by contrast. findings cannot reflect a sub-sample scoring different intimates over time. . and Flaherty JA. and Atkinson M. As the IBM is a measure of current intimate relationships.66:303-313. both intrinsically when the correlation coefficients are examined and. Jorm AF. Wilhelm K and Parker G. and so useful in quantifying any parental risk to subsequent psychiatric disorder in adulthood. 1965. 16. 175:703712. Department of Psychology.Aust NZ J Psychiatry Downloaded from informahealthcare. is designed deliberately to obtain an overall gestalt of the parent or “product moment of innumerable experiences” so that the instructions effectively force some overall judgement in an attempt to minimise variation at different developmental stages. University of New South Wales. the NH & MRC and NSW Institute of Psychiatry for funding the cohort study.15: 149-155. and Silove D. 12. Fairley M. 7. 6. British Journal of Psychiatry 1988. Eysenck HJ and Eysenck SB. particularly in such a sample of young adults. Behavioural and pharmacological treatment of depression. Wilson PH. with lower levels for state measures of anxiety. Parental representations of depressed outpatients from a U. the PBI. 202 RELIABILITY OF THE PBI AND IBM SCALES the cohort but suggest that such a group is the appropriate one for such an examination. Modifiability of trait anxiety and neuroticism: A metaanalysis of the literature. 152:24-27. British Journal of Psychiatry 1988. Unpublished report. Each of the “personality” measures returned similar levels of consistency over time despite some of them (eg trait depression) conceivably being more likely to be influenced by mood state and therefore potentially unstable over an extended period. Greenwood J. secondly. Parental overprotection: a risk factor in psychosocial development. The test-retest reliability of the PBI is clearly impressive. We thank our colleagues at the Mood Disorders Unit for comments on this paper. Yale University. Parental representations of schizophrenics and their association with onset and course of schizophrenia. Manual of the Eysenck Personality Inventory. Mount JH. Rosenberg M.141573-581. Wilhelm K and Parker G. 1975. 14. 15. The extent to which they necessarily reflect intrinsic personality. The relationship between schizophrenic patients’ perceptions of their parents and the course of their illness. 1983. A parental bonding instrument.52:1-10. 1964. The test-retest data for the IBM are somewhat less impressive and. Plantes MM. British Journal of Medical Psychology 1979. 4. Unpublished PhD thesis. The measurement of self-esteem. Depressive Experiences Questionnaire.. Are sex differences in depression really necessary? Psychological Medicine 1989.S. Depression and perceptions of early parenting: A longitudinal investigation.com by University New South Wales on 12/10/13 For personal use only. Scales for measuring depression and anxiety. and Mrs Sandra Evans for typing of the manuscript. Warner R. Those data are compatible with our neuroticism score data. Gotlib IH.19:401-414. I . 11. as we undertook a separate analysis on those in stable relationships with similar results. Jorm [ 161 considered the test-retest consistency of trait anxiety/neuroticism measures. Bern SL. New York: Grune & Stratton. D’Affliti JP and Quinlan DM. some change in the perception of the spouse or intimate would be anticipated over time.23:21-29. 1979. in comparison to the “personality” tests which we used as our comparative base. Psychological Medicine 1988.18:225-234. We conclude then that the PBI is a highly reliable measure over an extended period. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 1974. 2. 3. cannot be addressed by such a study design. sample. Journal of Psychology 1967.40 over 30 years. Cordy NI and Whiffen VE. 8. British Journal of Psychiatry 1982. Parker G. however. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 1987. Journal of Affective Disorders 1988. London: Hodder and Stoughton. and therefore support the likely accuracy of the latter. and Parker G.