Is Bowen Theory Valid? A Review of Basic Research
bowen theory, differentiation and chronic anxiety, marital satisfaction, psychological support
In th last 15 years, a substantial number of studies have tested the theoretical validity of Bowen family systems theory. A review of this basic research provided empirical support for the relationship between differentiation and chronic anxiety, marital satisfaction, and psychological distress. Bowen's assumption that couples with the same level of differentiation marry was not supported. His specific theories of sibling position and triangulation also received little empirical support. Research on multigenerational transmission has generally ignored Bowen's theoretical perspective, and more research needs to test Bowen's claim that his theory is universal. In addition, researchers still need to examine the effect of differentiation on child functioning, physical health problems, and adaptability.
Original Publication Citation
Miller, R.B, Anderson, S.R. & Keala, D.K. (2004). Is Bowen theory valid? A review of basic research. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 30, 453-466. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2004.tb01255.x.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Miller, Richard B.; Anderson, Shayne; and Keals, Davelyne Kaulana, "Is Bowen Theory Valid? A Review of Basic Research" (2007). Faculty Publications. 2454.
Journal of Marital and Family Therapy
Family, Home, and Social Sciences