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December 2021

Family portraits: Stories as standards for family relationships

Author(s): Crumley, L. P., Baker, J. L.

Journal/Book: J Soc Person Relat. 1999; 16: 6 Bonhill Street, London, England EC2a 4Pu. Sage Publications Ltd. 335-368.

Abstract: Two studies were conducted to investigate the link between the themes of stories individuals feel describe their family and the way people evaluate their family relationships. Individuals described a story characterizing their own family and then retold that story so that it reflected an 'ideal' family. The themes that emerged from these stories, as well as the discrepancies between the themes portrayed in the two stories, were examined. Findings indicated that the themes typifying people's stories about their own family were associated with individuals' family satisfaction. Stories reflecting care, togetherness, adaptability, reconstruction, and humor were positively linked to satisfaction, whereas those portraying disregard, hostility, chaos, divergent values, and personality attributes were negatively related to individuals' feelings about their family. The themes characterizing people's stories about what they saw as the 'ideal' family, by contrast, were unrelated to satisfaction. But, as expected, the discrepancies between many of the themes represented in people's own family stories and those portrayed in their 'ideal' stories were associated with the way individuals felt about their family relationships. Furthermore, the way people perceived their own family stories was linked to their beliefs that, at some point, their own stories would change to become more like their 'ideal' stories.

Note: Article Vangelisti AL, Univ Texas, Coll Commun, CMA 7-114, Austin,TX 78712 USA


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