[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Initial romantic attraction has important implications for the development of romantic relationships. Much research demonstrates that physical attractiveness predicts initial romantic attraction. However, less is known about the influence of individual difference characteristics on initial romantic attraction. Here we examined whether dispositional mindfulness predicted initial romantic attraction beyond the effects of physical attractiveness in a speed-dating experiment. Women were more attracted to men higher in dispositional mindfulness, beyond the effects of physical attractiveness. Men were more attracted to women who were more physically attractive, but female mindfulness did not influence male initial attraction. This is the first study to examine the role of dispositional mindfulness in predicting initial romantic attraction.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study compared the endorsement of Chinese and Western relationship standards by Chinese, Western, and intercultural Chinese–Western couples. All couples were living in Australia. Couples’ relationship standards differed in line with predictions. Western couples rated intimacy and the demonstration of love and caring (assessed by the Couple Bond scale) as more important for a successful couple relationship than Chinese couples. Chinese couples rated relations with the extended family, relational harmony, face maintenance, and traditional gender roles (assessed by the Family Responsibility scale) as more important than Western couples. Intercultural couples endorsed the standards to an extent that was intermediate between the Chinese and Western couples. Cultural differences were smaller on Couple Bond standards (small to medium effects) than on Family Responsibility standards (medium to large effects). Almost all cultural combinations of partners shared greater similarity on Couple Bond and Family Responsibility standards than would be expected by chance, with the notable exception that Chinese women’s standards were less similar to their male partner’s standards than was the case for Western women. Across cultural combinations of partners, high endorsement of Couple Bond standards, low endorsement of Family Responsibility standards, and high agreement between partners on both standards predicted high relationship satisfaction. Our results suggest that partner selection and convergence on relationship standards are important avenues for future research.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We developed the Chinese-Western Intercultural Couple Standards Scale (CWICSS) to assess relationship standards that may differ between Chinese and Western partners and may challenge intercultural couples. The scale assesses 4 Western-derived relationship standards (demonstrations of love, demonstrations of caring, intimacy expression, and intimacy responsiveness) and 4 Chinese-derived relationship standards (relations with the extended family, relational harmony, face, and gender roles). We administered the CWICSS to 983 Chinese and Western participants living in Australia to assess the psychometric properties of the scores as measures of respondents' relationship standards. The CWICSS has a 2-level factor structure with the items reflecting the 8 predicted standards. The 4 Western derived standards loaded onto a higher order factor of couple bond, and the 4 Chinese derived standards loaded onto a higher order factor of family responsibility. The scale scores were structurally equivalent across cultures, genders, and 2 independent samples, and good convergent and discriminant validity was found for the interpretation of scale scores as respondents' endorsement of the predicted standards. Scores on the 8 scales and 2 superordinate scales showed high internal consistency and test-retest coefficients. Chinese endorsed all 4 family responsibility standards more strongly than did Westerners, but Chinese and Western participants were similar in endorsement of couple bond standards. Across both cultures, couple bond standards were endorsed more highly than were family responsibility standards. The CWICSS assesses potential areas of conflict in Chinese-Western relationships. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this study, using a national recruitment strategy, we tested the different factors that influence retention in four different types of relationship education (RE), a self-directed book, assessment and feedback, and a six session Couple CARE program delivered by email or by phone. Of all the factors considered, required program effort, highly valuing marriage, religiosity, education, and step-family status were able to predict with seventy percent accuracy which couples would complete or not complete their RE experience. Program effort was substantially better at predicting retention than all other variables. Retention was high in the book and assessment conditions but was much lower in the two Couple CARE conditions where more effort and time was required. Initial engagement was higher in the email based Couple CARE condition but overall retention was higher in the phone based condition. Important implications for current and future RE efforts are proposed.
Journal of Child and Family Studies 01/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10826-014-0105-3 · 1.42 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Feedback to therapists based on systematic monitoring of individual therapy progress reliably enhances therapy outcome. An implicit assumption of therapy progress feedback is that clients unlikely to benefit from therapy can be detected early enough in the course of therapy for corrective action to be taken. To explore the possibility of using feedback of therapy progress to enhance couple therapy outcome, the current study tested whether weekly therapy progress could detect off-track clients early in couple therapy. In an effectiveness trial of couple therapy, 136 couples were monitored weekly on relationship satisfaction and an expert derived algorithm was used to attempt to predict eventual therapy outcome. As expected, the algorithm detected a significant proportion of couples who did not benefit from couple therapy at Session 3, but prediction was substantially improved at Session 4 so that eventual outcome was accurately predicted for 70% of couples, with little improvement of prediction thereafter. More sophisticated algorithms might enhance prediction accuracy, and a trial of the effects of therapy progress feedback on couple therapy outcome is needed.
Behaviour Research and Therapy 12/2014; 65. DOI:10.1016/j.brat.2014.12.015 · 3.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The gay and lesbian community suffers higher rates of discrimination, mental health problems, and relationship break-up than their heterosexual counterparts. In this paper we analyse the challenges confronting same-sex couples, and the implications for couple education and therapy with same-sex couples. We describe some similarities in the challenges confronting heterosexual and same-sex couples (e.g., negotiation of shared realistic relationship expectations, effective communication). These similarities suggest existing evidence-based approaches to couple therapy and relationship education are likely to assist same sex couple relationships. We also describe distinctive challenges for same-sex couples (e.g., homophobic discrimination, internalised homophobia, and low support from many families for same sex relationships). These distinctive challenges suggest some adaptation of existing approaches to couple education and therapy could enhance their relevance and effectiveness to same sex couples.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy (ANZJFT) 12/2014; 35(4):431-444. DOI:10.1002/anzf.1075 · 1.15 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The article by Dobson, Quigley, and Dozois on interpersonal model provides a very useful guide on how to extend cognitive behavioural models of depression to incorporate interpersonal vulnerabilities that influence how depressed people behave towards others. The point is made that interpersonal processes are very likely to influence the onset and course of depression. In this commentary, I extend this analysis further examining the evidence on how interactions within close relationships, particularly couple relationships, interact with individuals' depression. Evidence is also cited on the effectiveness of couple-based therapy in treating depression.
Australian Psychologist 12/2014; 49(6). DOI:10.1111/ap.12097 · 0.61 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Satisfied couples report that positive, intimate communication is central to their relationship. We developed the positive reminiscence task, in which couples discuss positive relationship moments to assess communication of positive intimacy. The behavior and heart rate of 28 satisfied and 25 distressed couples were assessed during positive reminiscence and problem solving. As predicted, satisfied couples demonstrated higher rates of positive affect and dyadic intimacy than distressed couples during positive reminiscence, and these positive behaviors occurred at much lower rates during problem solving than positive reminiscence. However, the differences between distressed and satisfied couples were more marked on most assessed behaviors during problem solving rather than positive reminiscence. Two notable exceptions were that dyadic intimacy and sadness differed more between distressed and satisfied couples during positive reminiscence than problem solving. The positive reminiscence task assesses intimate behaviors in a manner likely to be useful in research and practice.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To test a stress-diathesis model of adjustment to separation, the current study describes the trajectories of different aspects of separation adjustment in people formerly married or cohabiting, and moderators of those trajectories. A convenience sample of 303 recently separated individuals (169 women; 134 men) completed assessments of their emotional attachment to the former partner, loneliness, psychological distress, and coparenting conflict at two time points 6 months apart. Multilevel modeling of the overlapping multicohort design was used to estimate the trajectories of these different aspects of adjustment as a function of time since separation, marital status, gender, presence of children from the relationship, who initiated separation, social support, and anxious attachment. Attachment to the former partner, loneliness, and psychological distress were initially high but improved markedly across the 2 years after separation, but coparenting conflict was high and stable. Adjustment problems were similar in men and women, and in those formerly married or cohabiting, except that reported coparenting conflict was higher in men than women. Low social support and high anxious attachment predicted persistent attachment to the former partner, loneliness, and psychological distress. Coparenting conflict is a common, chronic problem for many separated individuals, and individuals with certain psychological vulnerabilities also experience chronic personal distress.
Family Process 06/2013; 52(2):228-43. DOI:10.1111/famp.12006 · 1.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Couple relationship education (RE) is the provision of structured education intended to promote healthy couple relationships, and prevent future relationship distress. There is a well-replicated finding that 9-20hours of curriculum-based RE produces short-term improvements in couple communication and relationship satisfaction, but that established finding does not test whether RE helps couples maintain high relationship satisfaction. The current paper summarizes 17 published studies evaluating RE that have follow up assessments of at least 1year, of which 14 studies found RE helped maintenance of relationship satisfaction. Couples with elevations of modifiable risk factors benefit substantially from RE, while benefits for couples with low risk have not yet been reliably demonstrated. Couples with elevations on risk factors not readily modified by current forms of RE are likely to show little or no benefit. Future research needs to clarify the mediators of RE effects, and how those mediators are moderated by couple risk profiles.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Assessment and feedback of relationship strengths and challenges is a widely used brief approach to couple relationship education (CRE). It can be fully automated through the internet, with couples self-interpreting the feedback. This study assessed whether therapist guidance of couples to interpret the report and develop relationship goals enhanced the benefits of the feedback. Thirty-nine couples seeking CRE were randomly assigned to either self-interpretation of an internet-based relationship assessment report (RELATE), or therapist-guided interpretation of the same report (RELATE+). Participants were assessed on relationship satisfaction and psychological distress pre- and post-CRE, and at 6-month follow-up. RELATE and RELATE+ were not reliably different in outcome. Couples in both conditions sustained high relationship satisfaction and showed an overall decline in psychological distress. However, consumer satisfaction was substantially higher for the RELATE+ condition than the RELATE condition.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Individual differences in attachment are well established as a correlate of couple relationship satisfaction. However, less is known about the role of attachment in predicting satisfaction at specific milestone points in couple relationships. The present study explored the role of attachment in predicting relationship satisfaction during couples’ first pregnancy, and the mediating role of relationship enhancing behaviors. Male and female attachment anxiety and avoidance predicted their own low relationship satisfaction, and this was partially mediated by relationship enhancing behaviors. Male attachment anxiety and avoidance predicted low female satisfaction, and this was fully mediated by relationship enhancing behaviors. This study is the first to highlight the important role of male attachment during pregnancy, and the mediating role of relationship enhancing behaviors.
Journal of Research in Personality 12/2012; 46(6):770–774. DOI:10.1016/j.jrp.2012.08.005 · 2.00 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study evaluated if the transition to parenthood is a window of opportunity to provide couple relationship education (CRE) to new parents at high risk for future relationship problems. Fifty-three percent of eligible couples approached agreed to participate in CRE and of these 80% had not previously accessed CRE. Couples were a broad representative of Australian couples having their first child, but minority couples were underrepresented. A third of couples had three or more risk factors for future relationship distress (e.g., cohabiting, interpartner violence, elevated psychological distress, unplanned pregnancy). Low education was the only risk factor that predicted drop out. The transition to parenthood is a window of opportunity to recruit certain types of high-risk couples to CRE.
Family Process 12/2012; 51(4):498-511. DOI:10.1111/j.1545-5300.2012.01420.x · 1.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several approaches to couple therapy produce large and clinically significant reductions in relationship distress. However, 25 to 30 per cent of couples show no benefit from couple therapy. Adapted forms of couple therapy can effectively treat some psychological disorders and enhance adjustment to physical health problems. The specific mechanisms underlying the effects of couple therapy on relationship distress are unclear. Current attempts to enhance the efficacy of couple therapy have three foci: (1) identifying the common factors that might account for change across approaches, (2) integrating different approaches to address specific needs of particular partners and couples and (3) monitoring the progress of couples during therapy and using that information to modify couple therapy as required. Given the high prevalence of relationship distress and its association with other problems, clinicians should routinely screen for relationship distress in adults. Couple therapy needs to be considered as the focus, or part of the focus, of treatment for a wide range of adult emotional and behavioural problems.
Journal of Family Therapy 08/2012; 34(3). DOI:10.1111/j.1467-6427.2012.00599.x · 0.94 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study evaluated the effectiveness of couple relationship education in assisting couples to sustain relationship functioning and parenting sensitivity, and whether benefits were moderated by risk of maladjustment in the transition to parenthood ("risk").
Two hundred fifty couples expecting their first child were assessed on risk and randomly assigned to either the Couple CARE for Parents (CCP), a couple relationship- and coparenting-focused education program (n = 125), or the Becoming a Parent Program (BAP), a mother-focused parenting program (n = 125). Couples completed assessments of their couple relationship during pregnancy, after intervention at 4 months postpartum, and at 16 and 28 months postpartum. Observed parenting and self-report parenting stress were assessed at 4 months postpartum, and parenting stress was assessed again at 16 and 28 months postpartum.
Risk was associated with greater relationship and parenting adjustment problems. Relative to BAP, CCP women decreased their negative communication and showed a trend to report less parenting stress irrespective of risk level. High-risk women receiving CCP reported higher relationship satisfaction, and were less intrusive in their parenting, than high-risk women receiving BAP. There were no effects of CCP on sensitive parenting and parenting intrusiveness for women. High-risk men in CCP showed a trend for higher relationship satisfaction than high-risk BAP men, but there were no effects of CCP for men on any parenting outcomes.
CCP is a potentially useful intervention, but benefits are primarily for high-risk women.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 06/2012; 80(4):662-73. DOI:10.1037/a0028781 · 4.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Across nearly all cultures, sharing a lifelong committed relationship with an intimate partner comprises an almost universal and strongly held ambition. Nevertheless, cross-national data reliably indicate a high prevalence of relationship distress and dissolution, with adverse emotional and physical health consequences for adult partners and their children. This introduction to the special section summarizes findings regarding the effectiveness of couple therapy for treating general relationship distress, couple-based interventions for individual mental or physical health problems, and couple relationship education programs aimed at helping couples sustain a healthy committed relationship. Within each of these approaches, evidence regarding potential mediators of interventions’ effectiveness is reviewed, and critical unanswered questions are highlighted. Discussion concludes with a brief introduction to each of the articles comprising this special section on universal processes in couple therapy and relationship education.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Systematic monitoring of individual therapy progress, coupled with feedback to the therapist, reliably enhances therapy outcome by alerting therapists to individual clients who are off track to benefit by the end of therapy. The current paper reviews the possibility of using similar systematic monitoring and feedback of therapy progress as a means to enhance couple therapy outcome, including what measures of therapy progress are most likely to be useful, how to structure feedback to be most useful to therapists, and the likely mediators of the effects of therapy progress feedback. One implicit assumption of therapy progress feedback is that clients unlikely to benefit from therapy can be detected early enough in the course of therapy for corrective action to be taken. As a test of this assumption, midtherapy progress was examined as a predictor of final couple therapy outcome in a sample of 134 distressed couples. Either a brief 7- or 32-item assessment of couple therapy progress at midtherapy detected a substantial proportion (46%) of couples who failed to benefit by the end of therapy. Given that failure to benefit from couple therapy is somewhat predictable across the course of therapy, future research should test whether systematic monitoring and feedback of progress could enhance therapy outcome.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stepfamily couples experience specific challenges early in their relationships, (e.g., reaching agreement on the role of the stepparent in parenting). The Oral History Interview for Stepfamilies (OHI-S) was developed to assess spouses' cognitive representations of their adaptation to these challenges. It was hypothesized that their responses would predict future relationship satisfaction and stability. One-hundred and 22 stepfamily couples completed the OHI-S and were assessed on relationship satisfaction and stability at Time 1 and 2.5 years later (Time 2). Time 2 relationship satisfaction and stability were both predicted by the OHI-S at Time 1. Couples' perceptions of the stepfamily and couple relationship predict separation, and suggest there is an opportunity for early intervention to enhance stepfamily couple relationships.
Journal of Family Psychology 08/2011; 25(4):560-9. DOI:10.1037/a0024538 · 1.89 Impact Factor