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Evaluation of the use of Western instruments for assessing Chinese couples' marriage

Guohua Xia, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Many theories and models were developed in the last several decades about marriage functioning and its assessment in Western cultures, but few were developed in the Chinese culture. When Western instruments are translated and used among Chinese couples, the validity of the constructs developed in Western cultures become questionable. After reviewing the major Western models and instruments, this study combined qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate Chinese couples' perception of marital quality and their perspectives about using directly translated Chinese versions of two selected Western instruments, LWMAT and ENRICH, to assess marital quality of Chinese couples. The participants of this study think both of the instruments covered most important aspects of the marital life of Chinese couples. However, the results also revealed that the investigated Western instruments did not cover some of the important aspects or did not address some of the issues adequately in assessing Chinese marriage quality. Many Chinese participants regarded some of the items in the LWMAT as being not of much significance or incapable of distinguishing good Chinese marriages from bad ones. This study provided evidence suggesting that the face validity of many translated items of ENRICH is questionable. Differences in religions, social economic environments, value systems, thinking styles, linguistics, and other factors make many items in ENRICH not suitable or problematic to be directly translated and applied to Chinese marriages. This study found that Chinese participants have a tendency to use moderate answers instead of extreme responses to the statements in ENRICH. The data obtained in this study suggested that the items with reversed wording seemed to be more likely to be troublesome. The practice of using mathematical or statistical methods to standardize the score and set a norm for Chinese couples may not erase these problems. It is warranted to do further study related to these issues in order to develop a valid and reliable instrument for practice and research related to the marriage with Chinese culture background. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Psychology, Psychometrics

Recommended Citation

Xia, Guohua, "Evaluation of the use of Western instruments for assessing Chinese couples' marriage" (2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3074111.