Revised scoring and improved reliability for the Communication Patterns Questionnaire


The Communication Patterns Questionnaire (CPQ; Christensen, 1987) is a widely used self-report measure of couple communication behavior and is well-validated for assessing the demand/withdraw interaction pattern, which is a robust predictor of poor relationship and individual outcomes (Schrodt, Witt, & Shimkowski, 2013). However, no studies have examined the CPQ’s factor structure using analytic techniques sufficient by modern standards, nor have any studies replicated the factor structure using additional samples. Further, the current scoring system uses fewer than half of the total items for its four subscales, despite the existence of unused items that have content conceptually consistent with those subscales. These characteristics of the CPQ have likely contributed to findings that subscale scores are often troubled by sub-optimal psychometric properties such as low internal reliability (e.g., Christensen, Eldridge, Catta-Preta, Lim, & Santagata, 2006). The present study uses exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses on four samples to re-examine the factor structure of the CPQ to improve scale score reliability and to determine if including more items in the subscales is warranted. Results indicate that a three-factor solution (constructive communication and two demand/withdraw scales) provides the best fit for the data. That factor structure was confirmed in the replication samples. Compared with the original scales, the revised scales include additional items that expand the conceptual range of the constructs, substantially improve reliability of scale scores, and demonstrate stronger associations with relationship satisfaction and sensitivity to change in therapy. Implications for research and treatment are discussed.

In Psychological Assessment