Parenting quality from observational ratings at age 2: validation from Norwegian and U.S. Samples

Kristin Berg Nordahl*, Margaret Tresch Owen, Luísa Antunes Ribeiro, Henrik Daae Zachrisson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the construct validity of a proposed measure of parenting quality derived from extensively used observational ratings of parenting in mother-child interaction procedures with 2-year-olds in two large samples. Data included global ratings of mother-child interaction in an unstructured free-play and a semi-structured teaching task from the Behavior Outlook Norwegian Developmental Study (N = 1157) and from the Three Boxes procedure used in the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (N = 1364). Confirmatory Factor Analyses, including ratings of mothers’ sensitivity, detachment, intrusiveness, cognitive stimulation, positive regard and negative regard, revealed a similarly structured latent parenting construct across samples and observational procedures, supporting the structural and content validity, and the generalizability of the measure. In the Norwegian sample, better predictive validity to child outcomes at age 4 was found from the semi-structured teaching task than from the less structured free-play task. Comparable predictive validity to child outcomes was found for the U.S. sample's latent parenting quality construct. The results hold implications for the careful selection and study of observational procedures for measuring parenting quality in early childhood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-390
Number of pages12
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Construct validity
  • Measurement model
  • Observational methods
  • Parenting quality
  • Structured interaction


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