Cluster analysis in family psychology research

J Fam Psychol. 2005 Mar;19(1):121-32. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.19.1.121.


This article discusses the use of cluster analysis in family psychology research. It provides an overview of potential clustering methods, the steps involved in cluster analysis, hierarchical and nonhierarchical clustering methods, and validation and interpretation of cluster solutions. The article also reviews 5 uses of clustering in family psychology research: (a) deriving family types, (b) studying families over time, (c) as an interface between qualitative and quantitative methods, (d) as an alternative to multivariate interactions in linear models, and (e) as a data reduction technique for small samples. The article concludes with some cautions for using clustering in family psychology research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Family / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research
  • Research Design*