Relevance of the Circumplex Model to Family Functioning Among Orthodox Jews in Israel

Steven Pirutinsky, Ariel Kor


The circumplex model of family functioning, as advanced by Olson (2000), posits that moderate levels of cohesion and flexibility are more adaptive than high or low levels. Research in majority-culture Western samples supports this model, suggesting that families with moderate levels of cohesion and flexibility display more adaptive functioning. However, the crosscultural relevance of the circumplex model is unclear. Since Orthodox Jews view the family as an instrument of religious socialization and a key community organizing structure, it was hypothesized that high cohesion (i.e., enmeshment) and low flexibility (i.e., rigidity) would be normative and adaptive among this population. A sample (N = 1,632) of Orthodox Jewish parents of adolescents completed a measure assessing the circumplex model (Family Adapatability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale, FACES-IV; Olson, 2011) along with other related measures of family functioning. Results indicated that the circumplex model had poor fit, reliability, and validity in this population. A four-factor solution including cohesive-flexibility, chaos, disengagement, and modified enmeshment appeared more appropriate. These findings concur and diverge from findings in other populations, and the theoretical implications are discussed.

Full Text:



Agudath Israel of America (2006, January). The Jewish Observer, 39.

Amato, P. R., & Booth, A. (1997). A generation at risk: Growing up in an era of family upheaval. Cambridge: Harvard University.

Baumrind, D. (1995). Child maltreatment and optional caregiver in social contexts. New York: Garland. Beaton, D. E., Bombardier, C., Guillemin, F., & Ferraz, M. B. (2000). Guidelines for the process of cross-cultural adaptation of self-report measures. Spine, 25, 3186-3191.

Brennan, K. A., Clark, C. L., & Shaver, P. (1998). Self-report measures of adult romantic attachment. In J. A. Simpson & W. S. Rholes (Eds.), Attachment theory and close relationships. pp.46-76. New York: Guilford Press.

Brownstein, D. (2009). Parenting styles, religious personality, and the religious commitment of Orthodox Jewish adolescents. Unpublished master’s thesis, Marywood University, Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Carnes, P. J. (1989). Sexually addicted families: Clinical use of the Circumplex Model. In D.H.Olson, C.S.Russell, & D.H.Sprenkle (eds.) Circumplex Model: Systematic assessment and treatment of families. New York: Haworth Press.

Collins, N. L., & Feeney, B. C. (2000). A safe haven: Support-seeking and caregiving processes in intimate relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 1053-1073.

Cummings, E. M., & Davies, P. T. (2002). Effects of marital conflict on children: Recent advances and emerging themes in process-oriented research. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 43, 31-63.

Cwik, M. (1995). Couples at risk? A feminist exploration of why spousal abuse may develop within orthodox Jewish marriages. Family Therapy, 22, 165-183.

Davila, J., & Bradbury, T. N. (2001). Attachment insecurity and the distinction between unhappy spouses who do and do not divorce. Journal of Family Psychology, 15, 371-393.

Finzi-Dottan, R., Cohen, O., Iwaniec, D., Sapir, Y., & Weizman, A. (2003). The drug-user husband and his wife: Attachment styles, family cohesion, and adaptability. Substance Use and Misuse, 38, 271-292.

Fox, J. (2006). Structural equation modeling with the SEM package in R. Structural Equation Modeling, 13, 465-486.

Friedman, I., Shaul, N., Vogel, N., Romanov, D., Dan, A., Feldman, N., … Portnoy, C. (2011). Measurement and estimates of the population of ultra-Ultra-Orthodox Jews. Tel Aviv, Israel: Central Bureau of Statistics.

Goldmintz, J. (2003). Religious development in adolescence: A work in progress. Tradition, 37, 50–68.

Gonen, A. (2001). From yeshiva to work the American experience and lessons for Israel. Jerusalem: Floersheimer Institute for Policy Studies.

Good, M., & Willoughby, T. (2008). Adolescence as a sensitive period for spiritual development. Child Development Perspectives, 2, 32–37.

Goshen-Gottstein, E. R. (1987). Mental health implications of living in an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish subculture. Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 24, 145–166.

Grodner, E., & Sweifach, J. (2004). Domestic violence in the orthodox Jewish home: A value sensitive approach to recovery. Affilia, 19, 305-316.

Hair, J. F., Anderson, R. E., Tatham, R. L., & Black, W. C. (1998). Multivariate data analysis with readings (5th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Herzbrun, M. B. (1993). Father-adolescent religious consensus in the Jewish community: A preliminary report. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 32, 163-168.

Huppert, J., Siev, J., & Kushner, E. S. (2007). When religion and obsessive–compulsive disorder collide: Treating scrupulosity in Ultra-Orthodox Jews. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 63, 925-941.

Kaufman, D. R. (1985). Women who return to Orthodox Judaism: A feminist analysis. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 45, 543-551.

Kouneski, E. (2002). Circumplex model and FACES: Review of literature. Twin Cities, MN:University of Minnesota. Retrieved July 21, 2011, from

Krieger, A. Y. (2010). The role of Judaism in family relationships. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 38, 154-165.

Lee, E., & Mock, M. R. (2006). Asian American families: An overview. In M. McGoldrick, J.K. Pearce, and J. Giordano (Eds.) Ethnicity and Family Therapy (2nd ed.), New York: Guilford Press.

Loewenthal, K. M., & Goldblatt, V. (1993). Family size and depressive symptoms in Orthodox Jewish Women. Journal of Psychiatry, 27, 3-10.

Maimonides, M. (1990). Mishna torah. Jerusalem: Meshar (Original work published the 12th century).

Marsac, M. L., & Alderfer, M. A. (2011). Psychometric Properties of the FACES-IV in Families of Pediatric Oncology Patients. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 36, 528 – 538.

McLean, K. C., Breen, A. V., & Fournier, M. A. (2010). Constructing the self in early, middle, and late adolescent boys: Narrative identity, individuation, and well-being. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 20, 166–187.

Mikulincer, M., & Florian, V. (2000). Exploring individual differences in reactions to mortality salience: Does attachment style regulate terror management mechanisms? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 260–273.

Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. R. (2007). Attachment in adulthood. New York: Guilford.

O’Connor, B. P. (2000). SPSS and SAS programs for determining the number of components using parallel analysis and Velicer’s MAP test. Behavior Research Methods, Instrumentation, and Computers, 32, 396-402.

Olson, D. (2011). FACES IV and the Circumplex circumplex model: Validation study. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 37, 64–80.

Olson, D. H. (1989). Circumplex model of family systems VIII: Family assessment and intervention. In D. H. Olson, C. S. Russell, & D. H. Sprenkle (Eds.), Circumplex model: Systemic assessment and treatment of families (pp. 7-46). Binghamton, NY: Haworth.

Olson, D. H., & Defrain, J. D. (2002). Marriages and families: Intimacy, diversity, and strengths. Blacklick, OH: McGraw-Hill.

Olson, D. H., Gorall, D. M., & Tiesel, J. W. (2007). FACES-IV package: Administration. Minneapolis, MN: Life Innovations, Inc.

Olson, D. H., Russell, C. S., & Sprenkle, D. H. (1982). The circumplex model of marital and family systems, VI: Theoretical update. Family Process, 22, 69-83.

Olson, D. H., Sprenkle, D. H., & Russell, C. S. (1979). Circumplex model of marital and family systems: Cohesion and adaptability dimensions, family types, and clinical applications. Family Process, 18, 3-28.

Olson, D.H. (2000). Circumplex models of marital and family systems. Journal of Family Therapy, 22, 144–167.

Pirutinsky, S. (2009). The terror management function of Orthodox Jewish religiosity: A religious culture approach. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 12, 247–256.

Pirutinsky, S., Rosen, D., Shapiro, R. L., & Rosmarin, D. H. (2010). Do medical models of mental illness relate to increased or decreased stigmatization of mental illness among Orthodox Jews? Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, 198, 508-512.

Ringel, S. (2008). Formative experiences of Orthodox Jewish women: Attachment patterns and spiritual development. Clinical Social Work Journal, 36, 73–82.

Roderick, J., Henggler, S., & Hanson, C. L. (1986). An evaluation of the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales (FACES) and the Circumplex Model. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 14, 77–87.

Rosen, D. D., Greenberg, D., Schmeidler, J. & Shefler, G. (2007). Stigma of mental illness, religious change, and explanatory models of mental illness among Jewish patients at a mental health clinic in North Jerusalem. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 11, 193–209.

Schnall, E., Pelcovitz, D., & Fox, D. (2013). Satisfaction and stressors in a religious minority: A national study of Orthodox Jewish marriage. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 41, 4-20.

Shai, D. (2006). Working women, cloistered men: A family development approach to marriage arrangements among Ultra-Orthodox Jews. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 33, 98-113.

Sheras, P. L., Abidin, R. R., & Konold, T. R. (1998). Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents: Professional manual. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Wieselberg, H. (1992). Family therapy and ultra-Ultra Orthodox Jewish families: A structural approach. Journal of Family Therapy, 14, 305-329.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 The New School Psychology Bulletin

© The New School Psychology Bulletin |