The typological approach in child and family psychology: A review of theory, methods, and research

Jelani Mandara*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


The purpose of this paper was to review the theoretical underpinnings, major concepts, and methods of the typological approach. It was argued that the typological approach offers a systematic, empirically rigorous and reliable way to synthesize the nomothetic variable-centered approach with the idiographic case-centered approach. Recent advances in cluster analysis validation make it a promising method for uncovering natural typologies. This paper also reviewed findings from personality and family studies that have revealed 3 prototypical personalities and parenting styles: Adjusted/Authoritative, Overcontrolled/ Authoritarian, and Undercontrolled/Permissive. These prototypes are theorized to be synonymous with attractor basins in psychological state space. The connection between family types and personality structure as well as future directions of typological research were also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-146
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Child and Family Psychology Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003


  • Family types
  • Parenting styles
  • Person-centered
  • Personality types
  • Typology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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