Parenting Sense of Competence (PSOC)

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 9.58.22 PMThe Parenting Sense of Competence scale measures parental competence on two dimensions: Satisfaction and Efficacy. It is a 16 item Likert-scale questionnaire (on a 6 point scale ranging from strongly agree [1] to strongly disagree [6]), with nine questions under Satisfaction and seven under Efficacy. Satisfaction section examines the parents’ anxiety, motivation and frustration, while the Efficacy section looks at the parents’ competence, capability levels, and problem-solving abilities in their parental role.

The scale can also be a 17-point scale, as seen here (although as a 16-point scale, the last question isn’t used).


Scoring the PSOC: The scoring for the 17-point scale is found here (When scoring the PSOC, it is important to remember that several of the questions are reverse coded).


Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 3.20.33 PM

Some citation references for this scale are (the last two have public links to the publications’ pdfs):

Johnston, C., & Mash, E. J. (1989). A measure of parenting satisfaction and efficacy. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 18(2), 167-175. (who cite Gilbaud-Wallston & Wanderson, 1978).

Ohan, J. L., Leung, D. W., & Johnston, C. (2000). The Parenting Sense of Competence Scale: Evidence of a stable factor structure and validity. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des Sciences du comportement, 32(4), 251-261.

Gilmore, Linda A. and Cuskelly, Monica (2008) Factor structure of the parenting sense of competence scale using a normative sample. Child care, health & development, 38(1). pp. 48-55.

57 thoughts on “Parenting Sense of Competence (PSOC)”

  1. Hi Michael,
    I am also about to commence PhD Studies in parenting, so it would be great to keep in touch. I am a Psychologist, and Lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia.
    On a practical note, i am looking at different measures and am interested in the PSOC, which I notice you have commented on above. Can you point in the right direction as to where I can obtain a copy and the scoring key?

  2. Good day!

    We are 4th year BS Psychology students from Pamantasan ng Cabuyao, which is located at Cabuyao, Laguna, Philippines. In partial fulfillment for our course, we are required to conduct and make an undergraduate research paper. Our study is about “The Influence of Domestic Violence on the Parental Effectiveness of Selected Rescued Victims of SAGIP Crisis Center in Muntinlupa City.”

    In connection with this, we are humbly asking for your permission to let us use the Parenting Sense of Competence Scale (PSOC). It would be of great help if you could grant our request. We assure you that you will be given proper credit in our study. We would also like to inquire about the scoring and scales of the said test.

    We are hoping for your kind consideration.

    Thank you!

    Sincerely yours,

    Marianne Joy A. Ilao
    Group Representative

    1. Hi Marianne Joy A. Ilao,

      Congratulations on getting close to finishing your bachelor’s degree!

      As to your email–I don’t own PSOC. In fact, I have nothing to do with its creation or in owning any part of it. I just use it in my own research, much like, it seems, you would like to do also.

      I believe it was a researcher named Dr Johnston (and colleagues) who created the PSOC.

      In my blog post I gave a couple of citations, so you can look up those articles to read more about the PSOC and how it’s used.

      Also the scoring sheet, as well as the scale itself were forms that I found on the internet (on other websites). So I am not the person to ask for permission to use it.

      In fact, I’m not sure if you have to ask anyone’s permission to use it or if you can just use it on your own freely.

      So you may look up the creators of the PSOC and ask them about permissions (and if you need them or not) or try to do more searching online to see if there’s a website that talks about the permission to use PSOC (it may be free to use, but may not be…I’m honestly not sure).

      Best of luck with your research!

    1. Hi William,

      Sorry for the delay.

      There are norms for the PSOC. You can try to find them in Johnston and Mash (1989).

      But the normative community sample is:

      Total Score: 62.48 (SD = 9.72)
      Mothers’ Total Score: 64.19 (SD = 10.48)
      Fathers’ Total Score: 64.61 to 65.91 (SD = 8.98; 8.44)

      Average Satisfaction for Mothers: 37.40 (6.60) to 38.76 (5.87)
      Average Satisfaction for Fathers: 39.20 (5.62) to 40.47 (5.72)

      Average Efficacy for Mothers: 24.79 (5.79) to 25.69 (6.61)
      Average Efficacy for Fathers: 24.95 (4.99) to 25.77 (5.29)

      1. Also, see here:
        Gilmore, Linda A. and Cuskelly, Monica (2008) Factor structure of the parenting sense of competence scale using a normative sample. Child care, health & development, 38(1). pp. 48-55.

    1. Hi Jeremy,

      Sorry it took a while to respond. Had to defend my thesis.

      You’re exactly right though–the version of the PSOC that I used has the scale going in the direction you outlined–where 1 is strongly agree to 6 which is strongly disagree.

      This version of the PSOC I just found online (I didn’t want to post my version because I didn’t know about the legal rules).

      However, anyone could still use this scale and just invert the numbers when adding up the total.

  3. Hi,
    Any chance of telling me which items are on the satisfaction loading and which items are on the efficacy loading?
    Cant seem to find that information.
    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Kerrie,

      The questions referring to the satisfaction subscale are: 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 14, and 16.

      The questions referring to the efficacy subscale are: 1, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, and 15.

      In the version I’ve posted here, they apparently added in item 17. To my knowledge that isn’t used on the PSOC, and we certainly haven’t ever used it.

      It may also be of note that in the scale I used, a 1 is strongly agree to 6 is strongly disagree (so reversed scoring from the posted PSOC). Having said that, when using the scale in this way, where 1 = strongly agree, then there is reversed scoring for the efficacy scale, where a 1 = 6, 2 = 5, 3 = 4, 4 = 3, 5 = 2, and 6 = 1.

      However, if you use the scale I posted in this blog post, then it would just be the satisfaction scale that would need to be reverse scoring (since the scales are already “reverse scored” in this posted version).

      Hope that helps.


  4. Thank you, all, for providing ready access to instructions for analyzing the PSOC…very helpful! This is the easiest website I have yet found on a survey with respect to getting instructions!

    1. Thanks so much Ann! I actually thought it was a bit confusing, since the questionnaire I found does things a bit different than other versions (like backwards scoring or adding in an extra question).

      If anything arises where you have more questions, please let me know.

  5. Hi am working on a thesis for my masters and it involves this scale. i am a bit confused on which items are to be reversed coded. I need the efficacy scale.

    1. The Efficacy items on the PSOC are numbers 1, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, and 15.

      So in the original version of the PSOC-efficacy items are reversed. However, in the PSOC example I posted in this blog, all of the items are listed as reversed. This means that if you use the PSOC that I posted on this blog, then you wouldn’t have to reverse code the PSOC-efficacy, as they’re already “recoded” whereas the PSOC–satisfaction ones would need to be recoded.

      But if you used a different version, like the original version, then you’d want to recode the items I listed in the first sentence.

      Hopefully that makes sense. Best of luck with your thesis!

  6. Greetings of peace!

    We, students from De La Salle Lipa, Philippines, taking up Bachelor of Science in Psychology are conducting our undergraduate research entitled “Parenting Sense of Competence and Child Rearing of Widowed and Widowers in Selected Barangays of Lipa City.”

    In line with this, we believe that the Parenting Sense of Competence (PSOC) Scale is the best suitable instrument to be used. However, we want to know the theory it is based on. We tried to use Social Cognitive theory but it only measures one sub scale of the test —– efficacy. We would like to know what theory it is based on so we can measure both sub scales—— efficacy and satisfaction.

    The assistance you will generously give will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!

    In St. La Salle,
    Bleza, Vielle Anne Marie D.
    Jiao, Jaya MIkhaela M.
    Psychology Student Researchers

    1. To my knowledge, the PSOC isn’t necessarily based on any particular theory, for both the efficacy and satisfaction scale. When looking at the psychometric articles of the PSOC, the authors rarely mention theory, and when they do, it’s not to the PSOC specifically.

      Having said that, the Social Learning Model by Patterson it a widely used model amongst those researchers who use the PSOC (although a lot of researchers using PSOC are using it for parenting and child behavior, rather than for Widowers, like in your research).

  7. I am also doing a research paper and i would like to use the PSOC scale that you have provided above. Since its in the public domain, do i require permission to use it? if so from who/where

  8. Good Day. We are currently having our research for our undergraduate thesis. I’d like to ask if PSOC can be used in our study entitled “Role Satisfaction of Solo Parents and Their Coping Strategy in Raising Family” If so, may i ask how were you able to get the Scale? how can i email the author? Thank you very much. this is my email. I am looking forward to hearing from you. God Bless

    1. Unfortunately, I don’t know if the PSOC is free to use or not. On my blog, I listed a website that has the PSOC for download.

      To my knowledge, Johnston, C., & Mash, E. J. (1989) developed the 17-item PSOC. So you can always try contacting them.

      I use the PSOC via Triple P- Positive Parenting Program. Therefore, you may also want to contact Triple P to find out if it’s free to use or not.

      Their contact page is found here:

      Good luck!

  9. As I am getting ready for my dissertation, I would just like to say that I am so impressed that you took the time to respond to the above questions and by your helpfulness. Thank you!


    1. Hi Ayesha,

      Maybe you missed it in the post, but the scoring sheet for the 17-item scale is listed right under the picture of the questionnaire.

      It’s in the sentence “The scoring for the 17-point scale is found here.” Click on the word “here” and the scoring sheet will pop-up in a Word document.

      If you have any problems with that, please let me know.


  10. Greetings,

    I used the instrument above and now struggling to know which has to be reverse scored. i am analysing the items for reliability using Cronbach Alpha using SPSS. I am also so confused which item need to be reversed in the document you have attached above. i hope you can guide me through for my masters thesis. Thank you so very much.

    Tharishni Anblagan

    1. You need to click on the link I provided in the post when I said “Scoring the PSOC: The scoring for the 17-point scale is found here (When scoring the PSOC, it is important to remember that several of the questions are reverse coded).”

      Then you can see a detailed description of how to score the items.

  11. Good evening,

    I hope to enquire certain things on the document of the instrument that you have attached above. I have assessed the same instrument on my special needs parents. The rating of 1 to 6 was not changed and I maintained the similar rating with 1; Strongly disagree to 6; Strongly agree. Now when I am analysing the data, I find it hard to gain a high Cronbach alpha. If i use the above instrument that you have attached, which questions I have to reverse score before analysis. At the moment, I am getting a very low Cronbach Alpha and I am quite worried. I hope to receive a message from you soon. Thank you very much and God bless.

    Kind regards
    Tharishni Anblagan

    1. Hi Tharishni,

      If you have correctly followed all of the steps, then that’s unfortunate. So if I was you, I’d just double check that all of the scoring is, in fact, coded correctly. The reverse coding should be pretty straight forward, but if you’re having trouble, here’s a video on how to do it.

      There are two subscales as well, so when checking the alpha, you can also check just the efficacy and just the satisfaction subscales to see what they are–maybe one is good and one isn’t; and then you’ll have to decide if you want to use the whole scale or only report on a subscale.

      In case you’re having any trouble with the alpha levels, I’d recommend to watch these clips:

      Good luck, and I hope the alphas go in your favor.

  12. Hi Researchingparents,

    This is Wendy from Hong Kong. I am I am a Year 2 master degree student of social sciences in psychology at Hong Kong Shue Yan University.

    I am in the process of conducting a research and will be commenced it in April, 2016.

    I would like to get the permission to use The Parenting sense of comptence scale (Gibaud-Wallston & Wandersman, 1978), but I could not find the email addresses of Dr. Gibaud-Wallston, J. & Wandersman, L.P.

    It will be grateful if you advise how can I contact either of them and get the permission to use their scale in my research.

    Thank you very much for your kind help!

    Have a nice day!

    Best Regards,
    Wendy WONG

    1. Hi Wendy,

      I assume the scale is free to use, since I found a version of it online. However, I have nothing to do with permissions of using it.

      I’m just a researcher who’s used it in the past, when we used Triple P–Positive Parenting Program.

      You could always try to ask the owners of Triple P (Australia) if you need permission; but it may just be a free tool that anyone can use.

      1. Hi researchingparents,

        Thank you very much for your kind reply. I will drop an email to Triple P (Australia) and try my luck.

        Have a nice day!

        Best Regards,

  13. Dear,
    Dr Michael,

    Is there a range for PSOC scale explaining High, moderate and low efficacy. Thank you very much in advance.

    Kind regards,
    Tharishni Anblagan

    1. Hi Tharishni,

      There’s no right/wrong way of saying high, moderate, or low. It depends…as they say in research.

      Whenever it comes to seeing if there’s a range, it’s best to check the literature.

      Researchers have categorized participants as being high or low, for example, using their own rationale.

      Knocke et al. (2007), for example, says that their participants were “high” on psoc if they were 1 SD above the mean.

      You can find their paper publically available, and so I’m including the link:

  14. Hello, has anyone managed to get an official ‘go ahead’ about using the scale for research purposes?I cannot find any details about how to go about it.


    1. So PSOC historically has been free. However, questionnaires are always subject to change. For example, GHQ and SDQ were free, and now are not “completely free” anymore. So constant checking with those who own the rights to the questionnaires is important. This is just a blog letting people know about some screening tools that I’ve used.

    2. We just collected some data using the PSOC from 300plus parents across Canada. This particular survey seems to be in the public domain. As a researcher/scientist my attitude is that research should be open and accessible and that includes testing existing measures.

      Anyway, has anyone here done any recent psychometric testing on the PSOC? It seems there is room for improving the PSOC based on our data and what i have seen in some of the published work.

  15. Hello I would like to have the permission to use this scale (PSOC) and I would like if you have Spanish Version, as a part of my doctor dissertation. If you don’t have the Spanish version, Can I translate the questionary?
    Thank you in advanced
    Gina G.

    1. Hi,

      I have nothing to do with any permission giving or on if this measure has been translated. Feel free to look through the comments to see if the PSOC is free. As for a Spanish version, I suggest you either review the literature to see if any Spanish version exists or to create your own, assuming the PSOC is free to use.

      But I’m just a blogger, talking about instruments I’ve used. I’m not the owner or creator of PSOC.

  16. hello good day!
    I am doing MPhil in counseling psychology an my research work is “Parenting Competency as preditor of Children Classroom Achievement and Pro-Social behavior”.For the purpose I want to use the PSOC(1978)scale.Can anybody help me by providing all the details including quantitative value of reliability and validity of the scale.

  17. Hi, i’m a researcher in child psychiatric my research work is parent interaction training program for parent with child with disruptive behavior disorders. for this purpose i want a permission to use PSOC (1978) Scale & ECBI in my research

  18. Hi, in child psychiatric my research work is parent interaction training program for parent with child with disruptive behavior disorders. for this purpose i want a permission to use PSOC (1978) Scale & ECBI in my research

  19. Good afternoon,
    My name is Amy Gray-Foti and I am currently a graduate student in the Notre Dame De Namur University Art Therapy and Marriage and Family Therapy Program. I am currently working on research for my thesis regarding New Mothers and anxiety and self-confidence. I would like to use the PSOC for my research. Please let me know who I need to contact or notify in order to make this happen.
    I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

    Amy Gray_Foti

    1. Amy, I am also using the PSOC for my research. The PSOC on this site has a clerical error (as noted in my posting).

  20. Okay thank you for your help! I will conduct Triple P and see if they know if PSOC is still free to use and no additional permission is needed to include it in new research. Thank you so much for your help!

  21. I noticed a clerical error in the Parental Sense of Competence Scale (PSOC). The Likert scale has reversals between “somewhat disagree”- “disagree” and “somewhat agree”- “agree.”    This is a format error that needs correction.

    1. It was pointed out that there are reversals when I said “Scoring the PSOC: The scoring for the 17-point scale is found here (When scoring the PSOC, it is important to remember that several of the questions are reverse coded).”

      Did you see some other reversal that isn’t accounted for in the Word document?

      1. I attempted to e-mail you but the e-mail came back undeliverable. What I mean in the above post is that your scale is not correct. You have “disagree” and “agree” in the middle of the scale. In fact, “disagree” should be between “strongly disagree” and “somewhat disagree” (“agree” should be between “strongly agree” and “somewhat agree”). This is true for ALL questions. Even if you simply reverse the scale, they are still out of order. Scale options 1 and 6 are accurate, but options 2 and 3 are backwards and 4 and 5 are backwards. Does that make sense?

        I have been in contact with Dr. Johnston by e-mail who created a version of the PSOC in 1989 to change the target of the study from infants to children. She indicated that the PSOC is a public domain measure and provided me with the correct version. She used the scale SD = 6, D = 5, MD = 4, MA = 3, A = 2, SA = 1 with S=Strongly and M=Mildly for all questions.

      2. Hi Jonette,

        Thanks. These are things you (I) don’t pay attention to. In fact, when I first wrote the post, I just wrote it for myself as a quick reference so when my boss asked me about it, I could easily refer to this page.

        Little did I know so many others would be searching for this questionnaire and wanting to use it.

        This has now been updated so that the scales are in order.


  22. Hi Ms Jonette,
    I am Joanna Pabilona of West Visayas state university, Iloilo City.
    Please share with me Dr. Johnston email add. I also intend to use PSOC in my study, Parenting Competence among Visually-impaired Persons in Iloilo City, Philippines. Thank you very much maam.

  23. I just would like to thank everyone here, all your citations and ideas shared in this site, everything so helpful in my study. Thanks to Dr. Michael and Ms. Jonette Coquat, Dr. Johnston provided me things I needed for my research especially the use of PSOC- indeed a public domain, free to use.

  24. Dear Michael

    Thank you for your guidance to James Brown and Marianne. I am Vishnudyutya Kumar Punj and pursuing my PhD from the Department of Psychology, University of Delhi, India. I’m interested in working on parents having a child with a disability.
    In addition, I contacted Dr Johnston for obtaining permission for the translation and using for my research based on the above-said guidance. I have been permitted the same as this tool is available in the public domain.

    This is for the information.

    Yours sincerely
    V K Punj

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