Researchers used two groups of families based in the level of socially accepted parenting methods. An independent control group of families with traditionally accepted married parents, and the dependent group of non-traditional families: single mother homes: commune environments, and non-legally married couples. It was this comparison which researchers hoped to help prove their hypothesis.
The study used a variety of measures to track families both before and after birth of their child. Interviews and questionnaires began in the last trimester of the pregnancy and lasted until the child was 18 years old. These methods were used to report family environment and peer influence. During the childs first and second grade years, teachers were also asked to rate the childs competence in the classroom.
The 205 families followed over the course of a year represented a variety of parenting environments, but were relatively close in the idea that they were mostly Euro-American families. Only 51 married couples made up the independent variable. Then there were 53 “social contract couples,” 54 commune families, and 47 single mother homes. Mothers were on average 25 years old, with fathers around 28. Most were actually expecting their first child, around 75% of families.
However, this study also presents some weaknesses and limitations within the methodological framework. Results were based on self-descriptions of peer relationships based on questionnaires and interviews. Therefore without the objective observations of the peers themselves, this study is limited to how truthful its predictions actually are. Although.