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The Perceptions of Parents Scales concern the degree to which parents provide what SDT considers an optimal parenting context (Grolnick, Deci, & Ryan, 1997). The scales are completed by children to describe their mothers and their fathers.
The Child Scale
The child version of the POPS assesses children’s perceptions of the degree to which their parents are autonomy supportive and the degree to which their parents are involved. Involvement concerns devoting resources to their children–that is, being available to them, knowledgeable about their lives, and concerned about what is going on for them. Thus, mothers and fathers each get a score on the degree to which they are perceived as autonomy supportive and involved by their children. Factor analysis of the scale has revealed a clear four-factor solution with factors labeled mother involvement, mother autonomy support, father involvement, and father autonomy support.
The child POPS was developed, by Grolnick, Ryan, and Deci (1991). It has 22 items, 11 mother items and then the same 11 items for fathers. These items form an autonomy support subscale for each parent and an involvement subscale for each parent. Because the scale is used with children as young as 8 years old, and often in classroom settings, we have the children respond right on the questionnaire by circling a letter in front of the one (out of four) description of a parent that is most like their own parent.
The College-Student Scale
The college-student version of the POPS is intended for use with participants who are late adolescents or older. It also assesses children’s perceptions of their parents’ autonomy support and involvement, but in addition it assesses the degree to which the children perceive their parents to provide warmth. The scale has 42 items: 21 for mothers and 21 for fathers. From these items, 6 subscale scores are calculated: Mother Autonomy Support, Mother Involvement, and Mother Warmth, as well as Father Autonomy Support, Father Involvement, and Father Warmth.
This questionnaire was designed as part of a doctoral dissertation titled, “An assessment of perceptions of parental autonomy support and control: Child and parent correlates,” done by Robert J. Robbins in the Department of Psychology at the University of Rochester under the supervision of Richard M. Ryan. The Robbins (1994) dissertation provided preliminary evidence for the reliability and validity of the scale. This study linked parental autonomy support to autonomy-related child outcomes, including self-esteem, self-regulation, mental health, and causality orientations. It also showed that high perceived parental autonomy support was associated with greater vitality and self-actualization, while low perceived parental autonomy support was associated with greater separation-individuation difficulty. A more recent longitudinal study by Niemiec, Lynch, Vansteenkiste, Bernstein, Deci, & Ryan (2006), adds further reliability and validity evidence for the scale.
Data collected from the parents of the college-student participants revealed that student perceptions of paternal autonomy support were positively associated with fathers’ self-reported self-esteem and mental health, and that student perceptions of maternal autonomy support were positively associated with the degree of autonomous causality orientation in mothers.
The Perceptions of Parents Scales versus The Climate Scales
The scales called Perceived Autonomy Support: The Climate Questionnaires, which appear in a different packet within the questionnaires section of this web site, are somewhat related to the POPS. Both sets of questionnaires involve individuals reporting their perceptions of a target other. However, there are the following differences. First, all of The Climate Questionnaires were designed for use with college students or other adults, whereas one of the POPS was designed for children. Furthermore, The Climate Questionnaires assess only perceptions of autonomy support, whereas the POPS also assesses perceived involvement in both the child and the college-student versions, and it assesses perceived warmth in the college-student version. We have never used a “Climate Questionnaire” with respect to parents, although one could potentially do so.
Grolnick, W. S., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1997). Internalization within the family: The self-determination theory perspective. In J. E. Grusec & L. Kuczynski (Eds.), Parenting and children’s internalization of values: A handbook of contemporary theory (pp. 135-161). New York, NY: Wiley.
Grolnick, W. S., Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (1991). The inner resources for school performance: Motivational mediators of children’s perceptions of their parents. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83, 508-517.
Robbins, R. J. (1994). An assessment of perceptions of parental autonomy support and control: Child and parent correlates. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Psychology, University of Rochester, New York.
Niemiec, C. P., Lynch, M. F., Vansteenkiste, M., Bernstein, J., Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R. M. (2006). The antecedents and consequences of autonomous self-regulation for college: A self-determination theory perspective on socialization. Journal of Adolescence, 29, 761-775.