Personality and Compatibility: A Prospective Analysis of Marital Stability and Marital Satisfaction

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 02/1987; 52(1):27-40. DOI: 10.1037//0022-3514.52.1.27
Source: PubMed


The antecedents of marital stability (divorce or remaining married) and marital satisfaction (within the group that remains married) were investigated with a panel of 300 couples who were followed from their engagements in the 1930s until 1980. Twenty-two of the couples broke their engagements; of the 278 couples who married, 50 got divorced at some time between 1935 and 1980. Personality characteristics (measured by acquaintance ratings made in the 1930s) were important predictors of both marital stability and marital satisfaction. The three aspects of personality most strongly related to marital outcome were the neuroticism of the husband, the neuroticism of the wife, and the impulse control of the husband. In combination, the 17 major antecedent variables were moderately predictive of a criterion variable composed of both marital stability and marital satisfaction (R = .49). The three major aspects of personality accounted for more than half of the predictable variance. The remaining variance was accounted for by attitudinal, social-environment, and sexual history variables.

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    • "Again, we note that the lack of income that once restrained unhappily married women from divorce has become weakened by their collective economic advances. Personality factors, especially neuroticism, are also associated with an elevated risk for divorce (Karney & Bradbury, 1995; Kelly & Conley, 1987). A study by Kiernan (1986) reported, for example, that neuroticism measured in adolescence predicted women's divorce by age 32. "
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    • "For example, Betzig (1989) compared 160 cultures and found that infidelity was the single most cited cause of divorce. In Western countries, it has been estimated that between 25and50%of divorcees cited a spouse's infidelity as the primary cause of the divorce (Kelly & Conley,1987). Among various threats that can jeopardize the spousal relationship, the most important one is infidelity. "

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    • "High on this list of possible theoretical mechanisms are individual differences in personality and cognitive/behavioral proclivities. Individuals who are successfully mate poached possess a variety of traits (e.g., disagreeableness, narcissism, avoidant attachment, unrestricted sociosexual orientation ; Foster et al., 2002; Jonason et al., 2010; Schachner & Shaver, 2002; Schmitt, 2005; Schmitt & Buss, 2001) that are also predictive of relationship dysfunction (Botwin, Buss, & Shackelford, 1997; Foster, Shrira, & Campbell, 2006; Jonason, Li, Webster, & Schmitt, 2009; Kelly & Conley, 1987; Kurdek, 1993; Watson, Hubbard, & Wiese, 2000). It is possible that one or more of the traits that make individuals susceptible to being poached also make them prone to thinking and behaving in ways that cause dysfunction within their relationships. "
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