Article

Expectancies and Communication Behavior in Marriage: Distinguishing Proximal-Level Effects from Distal-Level Effects

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Abstract

This study investigates the relationship between married couples' communication behavior during problem-solving conversations and their pre-conversation expectancies. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to distinguish between proximal-level and distal-level effects. A proximal-level effect is when fluctuations in a person's expectancies are followed by immediate changes in communication behavior. A distal-level effect is when a person's average expectancies across multiple conversations correlate with average communication behavior across multiple conversations. Married couples completed measures of pre-conversation expectancies and engaged in a sequence of four, videotaped problem-solving discussions. At the proximal level, wives' expectancies predicted communication behavior for both wives and husbands. Husbands' expectancies were largely nonsignificant at the proximal level. At the distal level, both wives' and husbands' expectancies predicted communication behavior.

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... Of the limited research that has examined specific marital conflict expectancies, studies have established a direct link between these expectancies and immediate behaviour for wives in particular (McNulty & Karney, 2002;Sanford, 2003;Sanford 2006). For example, Sanford (2003;2006) found that expecting positive behaviour from the spouse during an interaction led to individuals engaging in better communication behaviour themselves, especially for wives. ...
... Of the limited research that has examined specific marital conflict expectancies, studies have established a direct link between these expectancies and immediate behaviour for wives in particular (McNulty & Karney, 2002;Sanford, 2003;Sanford 2006). For example, Sanford (2003;2006) found that expecting positive behaviour from the spouse during an interaction led to individuals engaging in better communication behaviour themselves, especially for wives. ...
... In addition, none of the effects reported above were moderated by the gender of the spouse. This seems to be in contrast to previously reported findings that the link between specific expectancies and behaviour is stronger for wives (Sanford, 2003;2006). However, Sanford (2006) did find that changes in attributions and expectancies were linked to changes in communication behaviour for husbands as well as wives. ...
... Unfortunately, sexual incompatibilities (i.e., differences between partners in their sexual preferences and desires) are common and can be distressing in long-term relationships (Miller et al., 2003). Different sexual interests between partners are a key reason why couples seek therapy (Beck, 1995;Hawton et al., 1991;Henry & Miller, 2004;Miller et al., 2003;Rosen, 2000) and are among the most difficult types of concerns to successfully resolve (Sanford, 2003). Despite the prevalence of sexual incompatibilities in relationships, our understanding of a person's sexual ideals (i.e., the traits and attributes a person desires in a sexual partner and the characteristics of the sexual experience they hold to be ideal) and what might mitigate dissatisfaction associated with unmet sexual ideals remains limited. ...
... In doing so, people were able to maintain sexual and relationship quality despite perceptions of unmet sexual ideals. Because sexual differences between partners are common (Miller et al., 2003) and among the most difficult types of conflicts to successfully resolve (Sanford, 2003), the findings could have implications for couples who are coping with differing sexual interests, and for clinicians working with these couples. Indeed, based on this research, it seems possible to enhance people's perceptions of their partner's sexual communal strength by having them focus on the ways in which their partner is attentive and responsive to their sexual needs. ...
Article
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Despite the importance of sex for the maintenance of satisfying romantic relationships, our understanding of a person's sexual ideals-the traits and attributes a person desires in a sexual partner or experience-and what might buffer against lower satisfaction associated with unmet sexual ideals is limited. Across four studies including cross-sectional, dyadic, longitudinal, and experimental methods (N = 1,532), we draw on the Ideal Standards Model and theories of communal motivation to examine whether unmet sexual ideals are associated with lower sexual satisfaction and relationship quality and test whether higher sexual communal strength-the motivation to meet a partner's sexual needs-buffered these effects. Across studies, when individuals perceived their partner to fall short in meeting their sexual ideals, they reported poorer sexual and relationship quality. People with partners low in sexual communal strength reported poorer sexual satisfaction and relationship quality when their sexual ideals were unmet, but these associations were attenuated among people with partners who were high in sexual communal strength. Perceived partner responsiveness-both in general (Study 2) and to a partner's sexual needs specifically (Study 3)-was one reason why people with partners high in sexual communal strength were buffered against the lower sexual and relational quality associated with unmet ideals. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
... Unfortunately, sexual incompatibilities (i.e., differences between partners in their sexual preferences and desires) are common and can be distressing in long-term relationships (Miller, Yorgason, Sandberg, & White, 2003). Different sexual interests between partners are a key reason why couples seek therapy (Beck, 1995;Hawton, Catalan, & Fagg, 1991;Henry & Miller, 2004;Miller et al., 2003;Rosen, 2000) and are among the most difficult types of concerns to successfully resolve (Sanford, 2003). Despite the prevalence of sexual incompatibilities in relationships, our understanding of a person's sexual ideals (i.e., the traits and attributes a person desires in a sexual partner and the characteristics of the sexual experience they hold to be ideal) and what might buffer against dissatisfaction associated with unmet sexual ideals remains limited. ...
... In doing so, people were able to maintain sexual and relationship quality despite perceptions of unmet sexual ideals. Because sexual differences between partners are common (Miller et al., 2003) and among the most difficult types of conflicts to successfully resolve (Sanford, 2003), the findings could have implications for couples who are coping with differing sexual interests, and for clinicians working with these couples. Indeed, based on this research, it seems possible to enhance people's perceptions of their partner's responsiveness by having them focus on the ways in which their partner is attentive and responsive to their needs. ...
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Most couples view sexual satisfaction as crucial for the maintenance of romantic relationships, yet our understanding of a person’s sexual ideals (i.e., the traits and attributes a person desires in a sexual partner and the characteristics of a sexual experience a person finds to be ideal) and what might buffer against lower satisfaction associated with unmet sexual ideals, is limited. One factor that may help couples manage unmet sexual ideals is sexual communal strength—the extent to which a person is motivated to meet their partner's sexual needs. Across six studies including cross-sectional, dyadic, longitudinal, and experimental methods (N = 2,429), we draw upon the Ideal Standards Model and theories of communal motivation to examine whether unmet sexual ideals are associated with lower sexual satisfaction and relationship quality and test whether higher sexual communal strength buffered these effects. Results suggest that when individuals perceive their partner to fall short in meeting their sexual ideals, they feel less sexually satisfied and report poorer relationship quality. However, having a partner who was high in sexual communal strength buffered these effects. Whereas people with partners who were low in sexual communal strength typically reported poorer sexual satisfaction and relationship quality when their sexual ideals were unmet, these negative associations were attenuated among people with partners who were high in sexual communal strength. Our results provide novel evidence of the deleterious effects of unmet sexual ideals for relationships and suggest that sexual communal strength can help buffer these detriments among partners.
... To perform these analyses, we used an analytical technique capable of using data from both levels of analysis (Bryk & Raudenbush, 1992; Hofmann, 1997; Hofmann, Griffin, & Gavin, 2000). Hierarchical linear modeling is becoming increasingly used in communication research (e.g., Flanagin, Park, & Seibold, 2004; Sanford, 2003) as it allows researchers to analyze data from two or more levels of analyses while accounting for the nonindependence in observations that the nested structure of multilevel data tends to produce (Klein, Dansereau, & Hall, 1994). Our analysis was conducted in Hierarchical Linear and Nonlinear Modeling (HLM) version 6.02. ...
Article
This multilevel investigation examined the effect of group interaction and its influence on individual-level membership variables and group assimilation. The study is based on a model of group socialization developed by Moreland and Levine (1982) and was modified in this study to investigate the development and maintenance of highly interdependent workgroups in a high-reliability organization: a municipal fire department. Using hierarchical linear modeling, we examined individual- and crew-level influence on four assimilation outcomes: involvement, trustworthiness, commitment, and acceptance. At the individual level, acculturation predicted all the four assimilation outcomes. Involvement also was a predictor of the latter sequences of assimilation: commitment and acceptance. The study also found that one crew-level variable—crew performance—affected and modified the influence of tenure, proactivity, involvement, acculturation, and trust on members’ commitment. Implications are offered for the influence of group interaction on member assimilation and support for continuing group-level research on assimilation. This study also underscores the utility of multilevel analysis in examining communication at the interpersonal and group levels.
... Although sexual communal strength and communal strength are overlapping to a certain extent, communal motivation in the specific domain of sexuality was a unique predictor of the quality of intimate bonds. This special role of sexuality may have to do with the fact that discussions about sexuality can make partners feel particularly vulnerable (Metts & Cupach, 1989;Sanford, 2003), and, since the majority of romantic relationships are sexually monogamous (Blanchflower & Oswald, 2004), partners often cannot get their sexual needs met outside of a relationship like they may be able to with other needs. Being high in sexual communal strength may promote resiliency to these challenges in a particularly meaningful and vulnerable domain of relationships. ...
Article
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In two dyadic studies (a short-term longitudinal study and a daily experience study), we demonstrate that people high in sexual communal strength (i.e., those motivated to meet a romantic partner’s sexual needs) have partners who are more satisfied with and committed to their relationships. In Study 1, people higher in sexual communal strength had partners who felt more satisfied and committed to the relationship both at that time and 3 weeks later. In Study 2, the partners of people high in sexual communal strength perceived their partners as more responsive to their needs during sex, and this was one reason why they reported feeling more satisfied and committed in the relationship. Implications for theories of communal motivation and approaches to sexuality in romantic relationships are discussed.
... Although both distal and proximal factors account for unique variance in attributions of negative behaviors in marriage (Bradbury & Fincham, 1988;Fitzpatrick, Feng, & Crawford, 2003;Sanford, 2003), Bradbury and Fincham (1988) suggest there are important distinctions between the two sets of variables. As the distal context is characterized by stable and less transient variables, it is likely to function across many relationship situations. ...
... Although both distal and proximal factors account for unique variance in attributions of negative behaviors in marriage (Bradbury & Fincham, 1988;Fitzpatrick, Feng, & Crawford, 2003;Sanford, 2003), Bradbury and Fincham (1988) suggest there are important distinctions between the two sets of variables. As the distal context is characterized by stable and less transient variables, it is likely to function across many relationship situations. ...
Article
Utilizing Bradbury and Fincham's (19886. Bradbury , T. N. , & Fincham , F. D. ( 1988 ). Individual difference variables in close relationships: A contextual model of marriage as an integrative framework . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 54 , 713 – 721 . [CrossRef], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®]View all references, 19907. Bradbury , T. N. , & Fincham , F. D. ( 1990 ). Attributions in marriage: Review and critique . Psychological Bulletin , 107 , 3 – 33 . [CrossRef], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®], [CSA]View all references) distal-proximal contextual model, we report two studies examining the relational ramifications of honest but hurtful (HBH) evaluative messages in romantic and friend relationships. Findings indicate proximal factors played a prominent role in explaining the variance of relational ramifications beyond that contributed by distal factors. At the proximal level, perceived hurtfulness, intentionality, and honesty motives contributed to negative ramifications. Enhancement motives and honesty motives were associated with positive ramifications. At the distal level, self-esteem was associated with relational worries. Unexpectedly, one's beliefs concerning the role of honesty in close relationships were not associated with reported relational ramifications.
... Previous longitudinal research has shown that coping efficacy mediates the relation between active coping and adjustment problems in children after separation (Sandler, Tein, Mehta, Wolchik & Ayers, 2000). Coping selfefficacy has also been shown to relate positively to marital satisfaction (Fincham & Bradbury, 1989;Fincham, Harold & Gano-Phillips, 2000), positive behaviour in marriage (Weiss, 1984) and communication behaviour in marriage (Sanford, 2003). Lower self-efficacy has also been shown to predict binge drinking behaviour (Blume, Schmaling & Marlatt, 2002), anticipatory nausea in chemotherapy patients (Montgomery & Bovbjerg, 2001), and chronic pain (Jensen, Turner & Romano, 1991). ...
... Although sexual communal strength and communal strength are overlapping to a certain extent, communal motivation in the specific domain of sexuality was a unique predictor of the quality of intimate bonds. This special role of sexuality may have to do with the fact that discussions about sexuality can make partners feel particularly vulnerable (Metts & Cupach, 1989;Sanford, 2003), and, since the majority of romantic relationships are sexually monogamous (Blanchflower & Oswald, 2004), partners often cannot get their sexual needs met outside of a relationship like they may be able to with other needs. Being high in sexual communal strength may promote resiliency to these challenges in a particularly meaningful and vulnerable domain of relationships. ...
Article
Full-text available
Satisfying sexual interactions are a crucial predictor of the quality of romantic relationships and satisfaction with life. At the same time that sex can lift couples up and bring them great pleasure, navigating the sexual aspects of their relationship can be quite challenging for some couples, as conflicts of interest such as desired sexual frequency are among the most difficult types of relationship conflict to resolve. A prosocial perspective on sexuality suggests that partners who are highly motivated to respond to each other’s needs and provide each other with sexual benefits can maintain desire, even over the long term, as well as navigate sexual problems in their relationship with greater success. This article addresses two central questions, including why people are motivated to provide their romantic partner with sexual benefits and the relationship and sexual outcomes of doing so, as well as who is most likely to be giving in the bedroom. This perspective on sexuality has important clinical applications, including unique extensions to individuals with sexual dysfunctions, as well as the psychological and sexual well-being of affected couples.
... People are more likely to forgive their partner's transgressions when they believe that their partner is unlikely to repeat the offense in the future (Burnette, McCullough, Van Tongeren, & Davis, 2012;Davis & Gold, 2011;Koutsos, Wertheim, & Kornblum, 2008;McCullough, Pedersen, Tabak, & Carter, 2014). In addition, several studies suggest that more circumscribed positive expectations are associated with positive sentiments and behavior in relationships, such as expectations regarding a partner's behavior in an upcoming interaction (Mc-Nulty & Karney, 2004;Sanford, 2003;Vanzetti, Notarius, & NeeSmith, 1992) and the following day . These findings suggest that expectations for the future are indeed important for relationship processes and should be integrated into formal models of relationship commitment and maintenance. ...
Article
Four studies tested the forecast model of relationship commitment, which posits that forecasts of future relationship satisfaction determine relationship commitment and prorelationship behavior in romantic relationships independently of other known predictors and partially explain the effects of these other predictors. This model was supported in 2 cross-sectional studies, a daily report study, and a study using behavioral observation, informant, and longitudinal methods. Across these studies, forecasts of future relationship satisfaction predicted relationship commitment and prorelationship behavior during relationship conflict and partially explained the effects of relationship satisfaction, quality of alternatives, and investment size. These results suggest that representations of the future have a prominent role in interpersonal processes.
... Sexual concerns in the postpartum period are extremely common, with one study indicating that 89% of new mothers and 83% of new fathers endorse at least one sexual concern in the first year after childbirth, and over 50% of parents report between two and eight (of a possible 19) concerns (Pastore, Owens, & Raymond, 2007). Despite the prevalence of postpartum sexual concerns, research in community couples suggests that talking about sexual topics is one of the most difficult areas of discussion for couples (Sanford, 2003). Greater sexual communication has been linked to enhanced sexual and relationship satisfaction for oneself and one"s partner (MacNeil & Byers, 2009). ...
Article
Becoming a new parent is typically a time of great joy, yet it is also marked by significant declines in sexual and relationship functioning. Dyadic empathy, a combination of perspective-taking and empathic concern for one's romantic partner, may facilitate sexual and relationship quality for new parents. The purpose of this study was to examine the associations between dyadic empathy and sexual satisfaction, relationship adjustment and sexual desire in a sample of first time parents. Couples (N = 255) with an infant aged three to 12 months completed an online survey assessing dyadic empathy, sexual satisfaction, relationship adjustment, and sexual desire. Data were analyzed using multilevel analyses guided by the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model. When new mothers and fathers reported greater dyadic empathy, both they and their partners reported higher sexual satisfaction and relationship adjustment. New mothers who reported higher dyadic empathy also had higher sexual desire, although when they had more empathic partners new mothers reported lower sexual desire. Results remained significant after controlling for potential challenges unique to the postpartum period (e.g., fatigue, breastfeeding), as well as relationship duration. Targeting dyadic empathy in interventions aimed at helping couples transition to parenthood may promote the maintenance of sexual and relationship well-being.
... Every couple is subject to differing sexual preferences and the need to adapt shared meanings of sex. Similar to the finding of Elliott and Umberson (2008) and Sanford (2003), one of the biggest conflicts for participants in this study are the conversations surrounding the wants and rules pertaining to sex. As the narratives of these couples showed, types of sexual preference become accepted or rejected according to the level of dominant cultural acceptance, gender roles, and social expectations within each 1 3 marriage unit. ...
Article
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This phenomenological study explored the marriages of 6 couples in which one partner identified with the BDSM culture and the other partner did not. Participants were individually interviewed regarding: the process of reconstructing their sexual relationship; the impact of the social discourse on the one partner’s practice in BDSM; and the nature of power within the context of the marriage and its influence on the couple’s negotiation process. Discussions are made to help therapists become aware of the power and voice within the marriage and facilitate a productive co-creation of the couple’s shared meaning of sex.
... One way of doing so is by providing couples with relevant information about postpartum sexuality, along with effective strategies to discuss and deal with their sexual worries, and their need to engage, or not engage, in sex . Communicating about sexual issues can be a difficult task for many couples (Sanford, 2003) but is often beneficial for both partners' sexual and relational satisfaction (Jones, Robinson, & Seedall, 2018;Rancourt, Flynn, Bergeron, Rosen, 2017). Therefore, enhanced knowledge of what to expect regarding sexual changes postpartum, coupled with better communication about one's sexual concerns, could normalize new parents' experiences, facilitate feelings of increased adjustment postpartum, and ultimately promote effective strategies to deal with them. ...
Article
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Background/objective: The transition to parenthood encompasses several psychological and relational changes that might contribute to couples' high levels of stress postpartum. Although common across the postpartum, couples' sexual changes are frequently overlooked. Method: We surveyed 255 mixed-sex new parent couples to examine the associations between sexual well-being-sexual satisfaction, desire, and postpartum sexual concerns-and perceived stress postpartum. Couples completed self-report questionnaires assessing perceived stress and sexual well-being. Results: For both mothers and fathers, greater sexual satisfaction was associated with their partners' lower perceived stress and, for fathers, this was also associated with their own lower perceived stress. For mothers, greater partner-focused sexual desire was associated with their own lower perceived stress whereas, for fathers, greater partner-focused sexual desire was associated with their partners' higher perceived stress. In addition, greater solitary sexual desire and postpartum sexual concerns were associated with both parents' own higher perceived stress. Conclusions: This study highlights the association between sexual well-being and couples' postpartum stress, suggesting that more positive sexual experiences are linked to lower perceptions of stress across this vulnerable period. Couples' sexual well-being may be an important target for interventions aimed at helping postpartum couples cope with stress.
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This article reviews research that examines the effects of relationship expectations on interpersonal relationships. Most of the published research suggests that positive relationship expectations are associated with better interpersonal functioning, as indicated by greater relationship persistence, more positive relationship evaluations and motivations, more prorelationship behavior, more forgiveness, and reduced contempt. Research on related constructs, such as relationship efficacy, implicit theories, trust, and insecurity dispositions, suggests a similar conclusion. However, there is some evidence that positive relationship expectations may sometimes have negative effects on healthy relationship functioning. A model of the multiple pathways through which relationship expectations may promote and threaten relationship quality is described, and several directions for future research are suggested.
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Reviews 135 studies on mediation and classifies results into 31 behavior categories (e.g., praise, climate, asks questions). Separate meta-analyses for each mediating variable were conducted. Results were also analyzed separately for studies that examined the relation between expectations and emitted behaviors and between mediating behaviors and outcome measures. Additional analyses focused on the influence of internal validity and type of publication on effect sizes. Meta-analyses supported the importance of 16 behaviors in the mediation of expectancy effects (e.g., creating a less negative climate, having longer interactions). The 2nd author's (1973) 4 factor (climate, feedback, input, and output) theory of the mediation of interpersonal expectancy effects proved to be a useful framework for conceptualizing broad classes of behaviors involved in the mediation of teacher-expectancy effects. Mediation references are appended. (38 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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In recent years behavioral approaches to marital therapy have greatly influenced thinking about marital adjustment. Theory and research identified with this tradition relies heavily on observations of marital interactions. In this chapter we draw upon research within the behavioral orientation that helps explain the nature of distressed and satisfying intimate relationships. We discuss how some self-report approaches to marital assessment may contribute to a better conceptual understanding of marital accommodation and grievances. We review results from studies that utilize behavioral observations. This approach relies heavily on using how couples interact as a basis from which to build a theory of marital distress as well as to suggest possible interventions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Evidence in support of an association between attributions and behavior in marital interaction is incomplete and subject to alternative interpretations. To address this problem, 120 newlywed spouses completed measures of marital satisfaction and marital attributions and participated in 2 interaction tasks. In one task, spouses discussed a marital difficulty with their partner. In the other task, one spouse described a personal difficulty that he or she wanted to resolve while the partner provided support; these roles were then reversed. To the extent that wives offered maladaptive attributions, they tended to behave in ways that hindered problem resolution in both tasks. Attributions and behavior were more strongly related among wives than husbands and among relatively distressed spouses than nondistressed spouses. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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To address the validity of a common procedure for assessing problem–solving communication behavior in marriage, this study investigated the extent to which communication behavior is influenced by the difficulty of the topic being discussed. Married couples engaged in a sequence of four videotaped problem–solving conversations, and the topics discussed in each conversation were coded for difficulty. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to investigate both proximal and distal influences on communication behavior. At the proximal level, couples did not change their communication behavior in response to changes in topic difficulty that occurred across the four conversations. At the distal level, couples experiencing conflict over a highly difficult topic reported low relationship satisfaction and used negative forms of communication behavior in all their problem–solving conversations, regardless of the issue being discussed. The relationship between topic difficulty and communication behavior was mediated by marital satisfaction.
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The current investigation examined the influence of expectancies and target communication on perceiver behavior during social interaction. Two common adaptation patterns in interpersonal interaction are reciprocity and compensation, both of which may occur in response to another′s interaction behavior or in anticipation of it. Expectancy signaling literature predicts that perceivers should initially reciprocate the behaviors they expect from a target. Strategic communication models predict that perceivers induced to hold preinteraction expectancies will reciprocate expected pleasant behavior but compensate for anticipated unpleasant behavior. Interaction adaptation theories hold that perceivers will adapt their behavior to the target′s actual (rather than expected) communication, reciprocating desired behavior as a way of reinforcing it and compensating undesired behavior as a way of modeling the preferred pattern. Expectancy violations theory holds that the choice of interaction pattern will also be moderated by the rewardingness of the target. An experiment crossed positive and negative preinteraction expectancies with greatly increased pleasantness (a positive violation) or decreased pleasantness (a negative violation) by target confederates. Overall, results conformed most closely to the interpersonal adaption theory explanation, with some influence also due to target valence and violation status. Perceivers interacting with pleasant targets reciprocated increased pleasantness initially and over time. Those interacting with unpleasant targets (a) matched the target in adopting a lower level of pleasantness/involvement on average, (b) showed modest compensation or nonadaptation on channel-specific measures but reciprocity on global ones over time, and (c) showed the most compensation when the unpleasant behavior followed a positive expectancy. Preinteraction expectancies yielded modest effects but did intensify or attenuate results relative to their absence, a conclusion corroborated by intraclass correlation analyses.
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To examine whether spouses' attributions for events in their marriage are related to their behavior in interaction, spouses were asked to report their marital quality, to make attributions for marital difficulties, and to engage in problem-solving discussions. Study 1 demonstrated that spouses' maladaptive attributions were related to less effective problem-solving behaviors, particularly among wives. Study 2 showed that spouses' maladaptive attributions were related to higher rates of negative behavior and, for wives, to increased tendencies to reciprocate negative partner behavior. In both studies attributions and behavior tended to be more strongly related for distressed than nondistressed wives. These results support social-psychological models that posit that attributions are related to behavior and models of marriage and close relationships that assume that maladaptive attributions contribute to conflict behavior and relationship dysfunction.
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The current study investigated whether the effectiveness of behavioral marital therapy (BMT) would be increased by the addition of cognitive restructuring (CR) and/or emotional expressiveness training (EET) for maritally distressed couples. Sixty such couples were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 therapists and 1 of 5 treatment conditions (BMT Alone, CR + BMT, BMT + EET, CR + BMT + EET, or waiting list) for 12 weeks of conjoint marital therapy. Within each treatment condition, couples typically improved on the variables focused on in treatment. However, comparisons among active treatment conditions showed few significant differences among treatments; the treatments were equally effective in increasing marital adjustment. Thus, the addition of CR and EET did not appear to increase the overall effectiveness of treatment. Possible reasons for the current findings are provided, and suggestions for future marital outcome investigations are outlined.
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The prevailing behavioral account of marriage must be expanded to include covert processes. This article therefore examines the attributions or explanations that spouses make for marital events. A review indicates that dissatisfied spouses, compared with satisfied spouses, make attributions for the partner's behavior that cast it in a negative light. Experimental, clinical outcome, and longitudinal data suggest further that attributions may influence marital satisfaction. Rival hypotheses for these findings are examined. Because continued empirical development in this domain depends on conceptual progress, a framework is presented that integrates attributions, behavior, and marital satisfaction. This framework points to several topics that require systematic study, and specific hypotheses are offered for research on these topics. It is concluded that the promising start made toward understanding marital attributions holds considerable potential for enriching behavioral conceptions of marriage.
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Although there have recently been numerous investigations exploring the role of couples' cognitions in an attempt to understand marital distress, at present there is little cohesion and direction in the study of how couples think about their relationships. The current article asserts that this lack of direction results from at least three factors: (a) a lack of delineation of the important cognitive variables to be considered in marital functioning, (b) conceptual and methodological difficulties that arise in attempts to operationalize cognitive variables, and (c) a dearth of models of marital functioning that incorporate cognitions in a detailed manner. These three factors are discussed, along with a review of empirical investigations supporting the importance of cognitions in intimate relationships.
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The study examined whether spouses' attributions for partner behavior are related to their own behavior by assessing their attributions and observing the problem-solving discussions of couples in which (a) neither spouse was depressed or maritally distressed, (b) the wife was depressed and both spouses were maritally distressed, and (c) the wife was not depressed and both spouses were maritally distressed. To the extent they made maladaptive attributions, wives displayed less positive behavior and more negative behavior. Husbands' attributions and behavior were unrelated, and associations between attributions and behavior were not moderated by marital distress and depression. These results highlight the need to clarify how partner behavior contributes to the attributions spouses make and to reexamine interventions designed to modify attributions in marital therapy.
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This study investigated the direction of possible causal effects between attributions for negative partner behavior and marital satisfaction and tested whether any effects are mediated by efficacy expectations regarding marital conflict. Couples married for 15-20 months completed measures of attribution and satisfaction at Time 1 and at Time 3 (18 months later). At Time 2 (6 months after Time 1) they completed a measure of efficacy expectations. For both husbands and wives, a cross-lagged effects model showed that the paths from causal attributions to later satisfaction and from satisfaction to later causal attributions were significant. Efficacy expectations mediated the temporal relation between attributions and satisfaction. These findings support the assumption that there is a reciprocal causal influence between attributions and satisfaction but suggest important modifications to models of close relationships and marital therapy.
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This review focuses on the pathway leading from the marital relationship to physical health. Evidence from 64 articles published in the past decade, particularly marital interaction studies, suggests that marital functioning is consequential for health; negative dimensions of marital functioning have indirect influences on health outcomes through depression and health habits, and direct influences on cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, neurosensory, and other physiological mechanisms. Moreover, individual difference variables such as trait hostility augment the impact of marital processes on biological systems. Emerging themes in the past decade include the importance of differentiating positive and negative dimensions of marital functioning, the explanatory power of behavioral data, and gender differences in the pathways from the marital relationship to physiological functioning. Contemporary models of gender that emphasize self-processes, traits, and roles furnish alternative perspectives on the differential costs and benefits of marriage for men's and women's health.
Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods Effects of preinteraction expectancies and target communication on perceiver reciprocity and compensation in dyadic interaction
  • A S Bryk
  • S W Raudenbush
  • Sage
  • A S Bryk
  • S W Raudenbush
  • R Congdon
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