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

  • Steven Pirutinsky Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Ariel Kor Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel


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.


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