The System for Coding Interactions and Family Functioning (SCIFF) in low-income and urban adolescents

Psychol Assess. 2019 Aug;31(8):974-984. doi: 10.1037/pas0000719. Epub 2019 Apr 18.


Reliable, brief, and cost-effective methods to assess parenting are critical for advancing etiological research and translational efforts within parenting science. In the current study, we adapted the System for Coding Interactions and Family Functioning (SCIFF) for use among a sample of mostly racial minority adolescents aged 15 years old, growing up in a low-income urban setting. A multiethnic team coded videotapes of a family interaction task designed to elicit conflict. First, we assessed the reliability of SCIFF codes (N = 187; 54% female; 77% African American). Second, we tested whether SCIFF codes assessing harsh parenting, positive parenting, dyadic conflict, and dyadic closeness converged with parent-child reports of the same constructs. Third we explored links between observed harsh and positive parenting in early childhood (ages 3 and 5) and SCIFF codes at age 15. Our training and SCIFF coding protocols produced high interrater reliability. In support of convergent validity, we found specificity in the associations between negative aspects of parenting across methods: the SCIFF harsh parenting and dyadic conflict codes uniquely converged with concurrent parent-child reports of the same constructs. There was a longitudinal cross-construct association between more observed harshness in early childhood and lower dyadic closeness at age 15. Finally, the convergence of the SCIFF codes with other parenting measures was similar by gender and for families living below or above 200% of the poverty line. A modified version of the SCIFF can be used with reliability in low-income urban samples with variation in gender and race. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*