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The Parents’ Preference Test – the PPT (Westh, 2003a, 2003b) – is a parenting style test completed in 2003. Its purpose is to map parents’ notion of their own parenthood, disclosed through central dimensions of parenting styles. The test is a picture-based multiple-choice test with 24 items. Each item consists of a large theme picture (enabling the respondent to perceive whether the situation presented concerns e.g. a picnic or cooking at home) followed by four smaller selection pictures – where the respondent is required to choose the one picture most aptly representing the behavior she/he would exhibit in a corresponding setting, and to verbalize her/his reasons for choosing.
The respondent’s selections are then coded in relation to the four dimensions used in the PPT: Energy, Focus of Attention, Experiential Modality, and Regulation Style. (Westh, 2006) Energy is described here as a continuum ranging from Active to Passive/expectant in relation to the child: Is it Daddy suggesting a ball game (Active), or is he waiting for his son’s request, with which he is happy to comply (Passive – in the most positive version of this behavioral mode)?
The continuum of Focus of Attention concerns the object of this focus: Are you paying attention mostly to your child (Paedoptic focus) or to yourself (Autoptic focus)?
The third dimension deals with Experiential Modality, which within the PPT framework goes from Emotional to Rational.
Finally, there is Regulation Style, where light is attempted shed on the favored aspect of one’s child raising behavior: the Precepts or the Context.
On the basis of these four perspectives, a parenting style profile is generated. This profile may be combined with family interaction observations, thorough analysis of the reasons offered by the respondents for their selections, and the use of other tests, in order to provide the starting point for the psychologist’s future sessions with the parents – and, if appropriately, at a later date also with the family’s network – in order to arrive at an understanding of the most appropriate actions of everyone involved with the child.
Theoretically, the four dimensions are seen as interpersonal personality functions, and have the four dimensions described by Theodore Millon as their basis – with the pleasure-pain axis having been replaced with the Regulation axis, since parenting is the one human activity which involves less focus on one’s own pleasure/pain, focusing instead on navigating in the infinitely more complex field of balancing the child’s needs and desires and ones own needs and desires (Ferrer, 2006a).
The PPT has been subjected to rigorous testing, which is supposed to ensure interrespondent reliability as well as dimensional construct validity (calculated by means of log-linear Rasch analyses). (Westh, 2006)
The test and the subsequent research around it has been developed and described by a group of Danish psychologists led by the experienced family therapist Finn Westh, and including Lise-Lotte Westh; Soren Kronberg (focusing on the psychodynamic angle a.m. Stern); Carsten Rosenberg Hansen (focusing on the psychometric angle); and Christian A. Stewart Ferrer (focusing on the cognitive and systemic-narrative angles).
So far, it has been used as a basis for an advanced family therapy program (Westh, 2004; Ferrer, 2006b); for child custody evaluations; for parental competency examinations (Ferrer & Lumholt, 2005); for caregiving style profiles in regard to treatment facilities for children and adolescents; and for working with foster families. At present, only Danish norms exist; however, Israeli and Italian norms are being collected (as of May, 2008). The test has been presented at international conferences, which may in the future lead to more norms being prepared.
Westh, F. (2003a). Parents Preference Test - PPT. Copenhagen: Westh Development & Psykologisk Forlag.
Westh, F. (2003b). Parents Preference Test - PPT. Manual. Copenhagen: Westh Development & Psykologisk Forlag. English version by Christian A. Stewart Ferrer.
Westh, F. (2003c). Familiebilleder. In Psykolog Nyt, #11/2003, ss. 14-17.
Westh, F. (2004). At bygge et hus. In Psykolog Nyt, #10/2004, ss. 8-12.
Westh, F. (ed.) (2006). I dialog med familien. Copenhagen: Dansk Psykologisk Forlag.
Ferrer, C.A.S. (2006a). PPTs placering i psykologisk teori. In Westh, F. (ed.), I dialog med familien. Kbh.: Dansk Psykologisk Forlag.
Ferrer, C.A.S. (2006b). Det tunge artilleri: Family Dynamics-metodens placering i det terapeutiske univers. In Westh, F. (ed.), I dialog med familien. Kbh.: Dansk Psykologisk Forlag.
Ferrer, C.A.S., & Lumholt, A.B. (2005). Et billede på familien. Psykolog Nyt, 10, 27. maj 2005, 59, årg., ss. 16-20. English version – ”A Family Portrait” – by Christian A. Stewart Ferrer.
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