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The Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI) was used in a 2-wave community survey of 386 persons. The two factor structure of the instrument was confirmed, as well as the high stability of its scales over time. Respondents who had had children differed significantly from others. No association was found between social desirability, neuroticism or extraversion and either of the scales. No association was observed between the scales and psychiatric disorder, despite using covariance structure analysis to remove the effects of age and attenuation due to measurement error. Estimates of relative risk for affectionless control were low in contrast to estimates calculated from samples with psychiatric disorders. These findings may be characteristic of symptomatic persons in a general population. Because of the importance of the affectionless control construct, the findings invite further investigation in other community and treated samples.
When general population samples are assessed on two occasions with psychiatric symptom or personality measures, a mean change in scores towards less psychopathology is often observed. This re-test artefact is a potential threat to the validity of longitudinal studies. Data from a longitudinal general population study were analysed to discover under what circumstances the re-test artefact occurs. It was found that the artefact is unrelated to the time lag between occasions, being equally strong at intervals ranging from 4 to 34 weeks. However, the artefact did not occur for all measures, but was confined to those assessing negative self-characteristics and administered orally by an interviewer. These findings are consistent with both the ‘mechanical responding’ and ‘social desirability’ hypotheses of the re-test artefact.