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Equity, Equality, and Self-Interest in Marital Maintenance

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This study investigated the extent to which generalized equity, a reciprocal exchange approach to maintenance (e.g., reward minus costs), and a self-interest approach (e.g., rewards only) were associated with marital satisfaction. An online survey was distributed to 547 heterosexual married individuals. Results supported equity predictions for six maintenance behaviors when using a categorical measure of equity, and for five of the maintenance behaviors when using a linear measure of equity. Counter to predictions, equity and sex did not interact on the use of maintenance. Finally, a combination of equity, reciprocal exchange, and self-interest predicted 57% of the variance in marital satisfaction.
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Download by: [La Salle University], [Marianne Dainton] Date: 28 June 2017, At: 12:27
Communication Quarterly
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Equity, Equality, and Self-Interest in Marital
Maintenance
Marianne Dainton
To cite this article: Marianne Dainton (2017) Equity, Equality, and Self-Interest in Marital
Maintenance, Communication Quarterly, 65:3, 247-267, DOI: 10.1080/01463373.2016.1227346
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01463373.2016.1227346
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Equity, Equality, and Self-Interest in
Marital Maintenance
Marianne Dainton
This study investigated the extent to which generalized equity, a reciprocal exchange
approachtomaintenance(e.g.,rewardminuscosts),andaself-interestapproach(e.g.,
rewards only) were associated with marital satisfaction. An online survey was distributed to
547 heterosexual married individuals. Results supported equity predictions for six main-
tenance behaviors when using a categorical measure of equity, and for five of the main-
tenance behaviors when using a linear measure of equity. Counter to predictions, equity
and sex did not interact on the use of maintenance. Finally, a combination of equity,
reciprocal exchange, and self-interest predicted 57% of the variance in marital satisfaction.
Keywords: Communication Theory; Relationship Maintenance; Romantic
Relationships
The study of relationship maintenance by communication scholars is long past its infancy.
Yet, to date, there is little consensus regarding the theoretical principles that explain and
predict maintenance. Alternative approaches that have been used include uncertainty
reduction theory (e.g., Dailey, Hampel, & Roberts, 2010;Dainton,2003), attachment theory
(Goodboy & Bolkan, 2011; Guerrero & Bachman, 2006), interdependence theory (Dainton,
2000; Ragsdale, 1996), and self-expansion theory (e.g., Ledbetter, 2013; Ledbetter, Stassen-
Ferrara, & Dowd, 2013). The most common approachlauded by Canary, Stafford, and
colleaguesutilizes equity theory to predict maintenance enactment (e.g., Canary & Staf-
ford, 1992,2001; Stafford & Canary, 2006; Yum & Canary, 2009). However, the use of equity
theory has been met with substantial debate, leading to a series of challenges between Canary
and Stafford (2007) and Ragsdale and Brandau-Brown (2007a,2007b) regarding the extent
Marianne Dainton (Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 1994) is a Professor in the Department of Communication
at La Salle University. Correspondence: Marianne Dainton, Department of Communication, La Salle University,
1900 W. Olney Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19141. E-mail: dainton@lasalle.edu
Communication Quarterly
Vol. 65, No. 3, 2017, pp. 247267
ISSN 0146-3373 print/1746-4102 online © 2017 Eastern Communication Association
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01463373.2016.1227346
to which equity theory is practically or statistically significant in explaining maintenance.
This article enters the debate through an investigation of the relative importance of equity in
relationship maintenance vis-à-vis other social exchange approaches to maintenance.
Specifically, the focus herein is on how equity, equality, and self-interest might conjointly
be associated with the use of relationship maintenance and marital satisfaction.
Before discussing social exchange approaches to maintenance, conceptual clarifica-
tion regarding the nature of maintenance communication itself is necessary. Scholars
have defined relationship maintenance as the symbolic efforts that are enacted in
order to sustain preferred relational characteristics, most notably satisfaction (Dindia
& Canary, 1993). Communication researchers have identified both positive and
negative behaviors that consistently predict relational satisfaction. Regarding positive
behaviors, Stafford, Dainton, and Haas (2000) built on the framework developed by
Stafford and Canary (1991) to identify seven prosocial maintenance behaviors: posi-
tivity, assurances, openness, integrative conflict management, advice, shared tasks, and
social networks. Previous research has established that these behaviors can be under-
stood at least in part through the principles of equity theory (Canary & Stafford, 1992;
Dainton & Gross, 2008), as described shortly. Accordingly, the next section discusses
the predictions associated with equity theory and the results of previous research
linking maintenance to equity.
Equity Theory and Maintenance
Based on the principle of distributive justice, equity theory proposes that individuals
seek to maintain relationships where the proportion of rewards to costs are equal for
both partners in the relationship (Hatfield, Traupmann, Sprecher, Utne, & Hay, 1985).
Inequitable relationshipsthose in which the proportions of rewards to costs are not
equalcan take the form of underbenefittedness (wherein the individual is receiving
fewer rewards relative to costs) or overbenefittedness (wherein the individual is
receiving more rewards relative to costs). Research indicates that individuals in
equitable relationships are more satisfied with their relationship than individuals in
inequitable relationships (Buunk & Van Yperen, 1991; Hatfield et al., 1985; Sprecher,
2001; Utne, Hatfield, Traupmann, & Greenberger, 1984).
As indicated earlier, Canary and Staffords(1992) ground-breaking work on rela-
tionship maintenance was framed in equity theory. They specifically argued that
individuals in equitable relationships would report greater use of maintenance beha-
viors than those in inequitable relationships. The results of this first study were mixed;
equity predictions appeared to be supported primarily for wife-defined equity groups
but not for husband-defined equity groups. It would be overstating to say that the use
of equity theory remained unquestioned until the work of Ragsdale, but specific
challenges to an equity theory understanding of maintenance (as compared to other
approaches) were not debated until 1996. Rather, scholars simply chose the theoretical
approach they wished to take without specifically condemning equity theory or the
work of Stafford and Canary (e.g., Gilbertson, Dindia, & Allen, 1998; Simon & Baxter,
248 M. Dainton
1993). However, in his 1996 study of marital maintenance, Ragsdale argued that
Canary and Stafford (1992) failed to find substantial support for an equity approach
to relationship maintenance and suggested that Canary and Staffords methods might
explain their (lack of) results. Of course, critiquing previous research in a literature
review is an important way to demonstrate an understanding of the concepts being
studied, as well as a central means for providing a justification for publishing the
research in question. However, this particular critique seems to have served as an
opening salvo in a series of increasingly public and explicit disagreements between the
scholars.
First, Ragsdale and Brandau-Brown (2007a) suggested that Canary and Stafford
misrepresented the case for equity. Their interpretation of Canary and Staffords
(1992) study was that for husband-defined equity groups, there was no significant
equity effect at all and that in only one-third of the cases was an equity explanation
supported. Further, they contended that in only three of seven possible cases was
maintenance predicted by equity in Stafford and Canarys2006 study. Canary and
Stafford (2007) responded to this critique by arguing that equity predicted 14% of the
variance in maintenance for wives, which they suggested was a large effect, and that
because the multivariate tests were significant, it did not matter how many significant
univariate tests emerged.
Empirical challenges to the effect of equity on maintenance came also from
Dainton (2003,2011, Dainton & Gross, 2008) and Ledbetter (2013, Ledbetter et al.,
2013). In a series of studies, Dainton found that inequity was associated with only two
maintenance behaviors, conflict management and positivity, and that uncertainty was
a stronger and more consistent predictor of maintenance than equity (2003); that
equity predictions were supported only for assurances (Dainton & Gross, 2008); and
that being overbenefitted was a negative predictor of positivity and tasks, and being
underbenefitted was a negative predictor of conflict management (Dainton, 2011).
Second, Ledbetter et al. (2013) found that underbenefittedness negatively predicted
the use of positivity and assurances for women, and that overbenefittedness negatively
predicted the use of network and tasks for both sexes and positivity for women. The
results of these studies suggest that equity may not explain the use of all maintenance
behaviors; indeed, it appears that inequity particularly inhibits the use of conflict
management, positivity, and assurances. This is the first hypothesis:
H1: Individuals in equitable relationships will report more positivity, assurances, and
conflict management than will individuals in inequitable relationships.
A review of the literature also makes clear that biological sex is important when
considering the effects of (in)equity on the use of maintenance behaviors. Recall that
the results of Canary and Staffords(1992) original study found that equity effects
were significant only for wife-defined equity groups. This result was replicated in
Stafford and Canarys(2006) study, which found the curvilinear effects on mainte-
nance predicted by equity theory for wife-defined, but not husband-defined, equity
groups. Considering the sex differences in the effect of equity on maintenance found
Communication Quarterly 249
by Ledbetter et al. (2013), the question emerges as to whether there is an interaction
effect of sex and equity on the use of maintenance. This leads to the first research
question:
RQ1: Is there an interaction effect between sex and perceived equity on the use of self-
reported maintenance?
Measuring Equity
Ragsdale and Brandau-Brown (2007a,2007b) not only accused Canary and Stafford of
overstating their claims regarding the strength of equity effects, they also challenged
Canary and Stafford on methodological choices. One of the central concerns Ragsdale
and Brandau-Brown (2007a) raised concerned the practice of turning continuous data
into categorical data in order to create three equity groups. Most of the scholars using
equity theory in the maintenance literature have created a summed score based on
two equity measures, which they then use to classify individuals into equity groups
(e.g., Dainton, 2003; Stafford & Canary, 2006). This may be a common practice, but
may lead to negative consequences such as a loss of statistical power (MacCallum,
Zhang, Preacher, & Rucker, 2002).
One way that scholars have sought to overcome this methodological challenge is to
recode the equity measure so that higher scores reflect more equity and lower scores
reflect inequity (e.g., Schafer, Keith, & Lorenz, 1984). Alternatively, Ragsdale and
Brandau-Brown (2007a) suggested following the procedures of Buunk and Mutsaers
(1999). Buunk and Mutsaers used a single-item measure of equity and then used the
linear term as a measure of underbenefittedness and the quadratic term to reflect
perceptions of inequity.
Of interest is whether Ragsdale-Brandau-Browns(2007a) methodological critique
is practically significant. That is, the question arises as to whether a continuous
measure of equity provides different results than a categorical measure of equity.
Accordingly:
RQ2: Does using a continuous measure of equity/inequity affect the extent to which
equity theory predicts maintenance use?
Reciprocal Exchange and Maintenance
Returning again to the debate initiated by Ragsdale and Brandau-Brown, these scholars
argued that Canary and Stafford focused solely on the concept of fairness when responding
to Ragsdale and Brandau-Browns critique (Canary & Stafford, 2007), ignoring other
questions raised regarding the theoretical assumptions of equity theory (Ragsdale & Bran-
dau-Brown, 2007b). It is accurate that equity theory is fundamentally concerned with justice,
which is defined in terms of fairness in the ratio of rewards and costs (Walster, Walster, &
Berscheid, 1978). Indeed, this justice-seeking modification represents a significant depar-
ture from other social exchange perspectives(Hess, Pollom, & Fannin, 2009,p.174).
However, as Ragsdale and Brandau-Brown (2007a) pointed out, equity theory also assumes
250 M. Dainton
that both overbenefittedness and underbenefittedness negatively impact relational experi-
ences; this assumption has not been supported by previous research (e.g., Dainton, 2003;
Sprecher, 2001).
At question is whether alternative social exchange approaches, which focus on the
equality of rewards rather than on the fairness of reward-cost ratios, might assist in
explaining the maintenance process. For example, though it has not been used in main-
tenance research thus far, Molm, Quist, and Wisely (1993) articulated a reciprocal exchange
orientation, which postulates three assumptions that mark a departure from those articu-
latedbyequitytheory.Thefirstassumptionof reciprocal exchange is that one partners
behavior is contingent on the othersbehavior; second, acts are repaid by functionally
equivalent acts; and third, the values of the outcomes should be relatively equal. Using this
model to understand relationship maintenance, then, as with Canary and Staffordsoriginal
formulation, ones own maintenance actions are considered costs and the partnersuseof
maintenance is considered rewards. Accordingly, the notion of acts being repaid by func-
tionally equivalent acts suggests that if reciprocal exchange is achieved, a simple rewards-
minus-costs formula should result in a net score of zero for each maintenance behavior
within a dyad. That is, if partners reciprocate maintenance and seek equal outcomes, then
the net goal should be for an equivalent exchange (Cate, Lloyd, & Henton, 1985).
There is some empirical support for a reciprocal exchange approach to relationship
maintenance. For example, Dainton and Stafford (1993) found that married spouses were
more similar than expected by chance in their reports of all but four (of 12) maintenance
behaviors, suggesting some degree of reciprocity. In addition, Dainton and Stafford (2000)
found that the best predictor of an individuals maintenance enactment is the perception
that the partner has engaged in the same maintenance behavior. Too, Weigel and Ballard-
Reisch (1997) found that husbandsself-reported use of maintenance behaviors was a
significant predictor of wivesself-reported use of maintenance behaviors. Finally, Dainton
(2011) found that reciprocity consistently explained an individuals use of maintenance.
Although there are theoretical differences in an equity and an equality approach to
understanding maintenance, a reasonable question is the extent to which these two
approaches vary in the lived experience of married couples. That is, do individuals who
report being in an equitable relationship also perceive that their exchange of maintenance is
reciprocal? After all, there are other cognitions, behaviors, and experiences associated with
marriage than maintenance behavior. Thus:
RQ3: Does the reciprocal exchange of maintenance behavior vary based on perceived equity?
Self-Interest in Maintenance
The final variable of note in this study is self-interest. One of the central assumptions
of all social exchange approaches is that the causal force for social exchange is self-
interest, which is defined as the tendency to seek preferred resources from others
(Roloff, 1981, p. 25). That is, the assumption is that relational partners are seeking to
receive rewards from their partners. Accordingly, maintenance may not operate via
either equity or reciprocal exchange mechanisms alone; it may be that self-interest, in
Communication Quarterly 251
the terms of the partners use of maintenance without consideration of ones own use
of maintenance, is important when determining an individuals marital satisfaction.
As partial support for this supposition, Huston and Burgess (1979) argued that
consideration of an absolute level of rewards (rather than both rewards and costs) is
typical when resources (such as partner interaction) are not scarce. This approach is
supported by the work of Lloyd, Cate, and Henton (1984), who found that perceived
rewards were predictive of relationship stability over time. Further, Cate et al. (1985)
found that when controlling for reward level, neither equity nor equality predicted
relationship stability. Accordingly, self-interest in the form of perceived use of the
partners maintenance behavior (i.e., rewards only) may be an important factor in
predicting satisfaction. This leads to the final research question:
RQ4: To what extent do equity, the reciprocal exchange of maintenance, and self-
interest in maintenance predict marital satisfaction?
Method
Procedure and Sample
An online survey was created to measure equity, self-reported maintenance behavior,
perception of the partners behavior, satisfaction, and additional variables that were
not a part of this study. Participants were recruited through SurveyMonkeys audience
request process, which allows researchers to pay for a targeted sample from the
companys membership. In this case, the author requested 400 heterosexual married
respondents, with a specific request for 200 Black respondents and 200 White
respondents. Because more people responded to the solicitation request than antici-
pated, the total sample included 547 individuals.
Respondents were not restricted to those who were currently satisfied in their marriage.
However, only one relational partner was permitted to fill out the questionnaire to prevent
non-independence of data. Individuals were instructed to neither discuss nor show their
survey to their spouse.
A total of 547 heterosexual married individuals completed an online survey. Of those,
288 were men (52.8%) and 257 were women (47.2%). Two individuals failed to report sex.
The mean age was 49.2 (SD = 12.2) and the mean length of marriage was 18 years (SD
=13.09 years). The couple reported having a mean number of children of 2.67 (SD = 1.94).
The racial make-up of the sample was as follows: 260 (48.7%) reported being African
American/Black; 16 (2.9%) reported being Caribbean American/Black; 216 (39.5%)
reported being European American/White; 9 (1.6%) reported being Hispanic/Black; 25
(4.6%) reported being Hispanic/White; 19 (3.5%) reported being mixed race; and 2 (0.4%)
failed to check a racial/ethnic category.
Instrumentation
The satisfaction and maintenance indices were based on a five-point Likert scale, with
1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree. Nortons(1983) Quality Marriage Index,
252 M. Dainton
a six-item measure of satisfaction, was used (α= 0.97, M= 4.23, SD = 1.03).
Maintenance was measured using Stafford et al.s(2000) measure of maintenance
enactment, with self-interest being operationalized as the perception of the partners
use of each maintenance behavior. Scale reliabilities and means are reported in
Table 1.
Two single-item equity indexes were employed to measure equity: Hatfieldet al.s
(1979) global equity measure and Sprechers(1986) equity scale. Hatfield et al.s
question asks, Considering how much you and your partner put into this relationship
and how much you and your partner get out of it, which of the following is most
accurate?There are seven numbered response options, ranging from ‘”-3 = I am
getting a much better deal than my partner(overbenefitted) to 3 = My partner is
getting a much better deal(underbenefitted), with the midpoint representing equity.
The Sprecher question asks respondents to consider all the times when your relation-
ship has become unbalanced and one partner has contributed more for a time. When
this happens, who is more likely to contribute more?Again, there are seven num-
bered response options, ranging from -3 = My partner is much more likely to be the
one to contribute more(overbenefitted) to 3 = I am much more likely to be the one
to contribute more(underbenefitted), with the midpoint representing equity. The
two measures were summed, with higher scores representing greater underbenefitted-
ness (α= 0.66, M= 0.40, SD = 2.60). Previous reliability has been α= 0.70 (Dainton,
2003).
Two additional methods were used to measure equity. First, to classify individuals
into equity groups, midpoint responses on the combined index (i.e., those scoring
between 1 and 1) were defined as equitable. Those scoring between below 1 were
classified as overbenefitted, and those scoring above 1 were classified as underbene-
fitted. In this sample, 47.7% of the respondents reported being in an equitable
relationship (n= 261), 22.9% reported being overbenefitted (n= 125), and 29.4%
reported being underbenefited (n= 161). Given these responses, it appears that
individuals in this sample perceive themselves to be relatively more underbenefitted
as compared to reports in previous research. Buunk and Van Yperen (1991), for
example, found that 47% of their sample perceived themselves to be in equitable
Table 1 Scale Reliabilities, Means, and Standard Deviations for Maintenance Factors
Self-Reported Use Perception of Partners Use
Advice α= 0.84, M= 3.88, SD = 0.89 α= 0.89, M= 3.88, SD = 1.00
Assurances α= 0.81, M= 4.20, SD = 0.91 α= 0.87, M= 4.17, SD = 0.99
Conflict α= 0.81, M= 4.08, SD = 0.74 α= 0.88, M= 3.65, SD = 1.04
Network α= 0.89, M= 3.58, SD = 1.13 α= 0.95, M= 3.59, SD = 1.20
Openness α= 0.84, M= 3.85, SD = 0.94 α= 0.88, M= 3.72, SD = 1.06
Positivity α= 0.83, M= 4.12, SD = 0.80 α= 0.93, M= 3.81, SD = 1.04
Tasks α= 0.83, M= 4.25, SD = 1.11 α= 0.91, M= 3.97, SD = 1.02
Communication Quarterly 253
relationships, with the remainder nearly evenly divided between underbenefitted and
overbenefitted.
Second, following the methods of Schafer et al. (1984), a linear measure of equity
was created by recoding the sum of the two equity indices as follows: individuals
scoring a 0 were coded a 7; individuals scoring a 1 or 1 were coded a 6; individuals
scoring a 2 or 2 were coded a 5; individuals scoring a 3 or 3 were coded a 4;
individuals scoring a 4 or 4 were coded a 3; individuals scoring a 5 or 5 were coded
a 2; and individuals scoring a 6 or 6 were coded a 1. In this way, a higher score
indicated greater perceived equity (M= 5.01, SD = 1.81).
To create a measure of reciprocal exchange, self-reported maintenance enactment
was subtracted from perception of partners maintenance enactment for each activity.
Because the maintenance items are measured using a standard Likert scale (i.e.,
strongly agree to strongly disagree) rather than a measure of frequency (i.e., very
frequent to very infrequent), we cannot say that the resulting discrepancy is a measure
of quantity of maintenance per se but, rather, a measure of the relative certainty that
the behavior is being enacted. Accordingly, a positive discrepancy score would
indicate that the individual perceives a net reward for the behavior (i.e., they agree
that their partner is using the behavior more than they are) and a negative score
would indicate that the individual perceives a net cost for the behavior (i.e., they agree
that they are enacting the behavior more than their partner is). Means and standard
deviations for the maintenance behaviors were as follows: discrepancy for advice
M= 0.02 (SD = 1.98); discrepancy for assurances M=0.11 (SD = 1.82); discrepancy
for conflict management M=1.32 (SD = 2.55); discrepancy for networks M= 0.02
(SD = 1.36); discrepancy for positivity M=5.03 (SD = 1.99); and discrepancy for
tasks M=0.82 (SD = 3.19).
Results
Before addressing the hypotheses and research questions, a correlation matrix between
the variables of interest was calculated. Results, reported in Table 2, indicate that the
majority of variables were significantly correlated in predictable ways.
The first hypothesis predicted that there would be equity variations in the use of
assurances, positivity, and conflict management, and the first research question asked
whether there was an interaction effect for sex and equity on maintenance use. A
single MANCOVA was used to test the hypothesis and answer the research question,
with the independent variables being sex and equity group (underbenefitted, equitable,
and overbenefitted), controlling for relationship length. Results indicated a significant
main effect for self-reported maintenance by equity groups (F[14, 890] = 7.51,
p< 0.001, WilksΛ= 0.80, Ƞ
p2
= 0.11, power = 1.0); a significant main effect for
self-reported maintenance by sex (F[7, 454] = 2.81, p< 0.01, WilksΛ= 0.96,
Ƞ
p2
= 0.04, power = 0.92); but no significant interaction effect (F[14, 890] = 0.71,
p= 0.77). Accordingly, the answer to the first research question is that sex and equity
did not interact on self-reported use of maintenance.
254 M. Dainton
To further probe whether the hypothesis was supported, a Bonferroni correction
was set at 0.007, and significant univariate equations suggested differences in the use
of six maintenance behaviors by equity group, exceeding the predictions made in the
hypothesis. Table 3 reports these results. Those perceiving themselves as underbene-
fitted reported using less assurances, network, openness, and positivity than those who
perceived themselves in an equitable relationship; underbenefitted and overbenefitted
individuals reported using less conflict management than those who perceived them-
selves to be in an equitable relationship; and underbenefitted and equitable individuals
reported greater use of sharing tasks than those in an equitable relationship. The
variance explained ranged from 2% to 8%.
The second research question asked whether there would be differences in the
extent to which maintenance was predicted by equity using different measures of
assessing equity. To answer the question, a multivariate multiple regression (MMR)
was conducted. This technique is superior to a series of regression equations because it
reduces the risk of Type I and Type II errors, it provides a more efficient analysis of
the role of multiple explanatory variables (Monge, 1980), and it poses no estimation
problems (Johnson & Wichern, 1992). Like MANOVA, the results of MMR are
interpreted prior to the interpretation of univariate analyses and parameter estimates.
Table 2 Correlations Between Satisfaction, InequityEquity, Underbenefittedness, the
Quadratic Term for Equity, the Reciprocal Exchange of Maintenance, and Self-Interest
in Maintenance
Sat Equit Under PAdv PAss PCon PNet POpen PPos PTask
Sat 0.37** 0.44** 0.37** 0.63** 0.62** 0.48** 0.52** 0.55** 0.57**
Equit 0.37** 0.30** 0.13** 0.27** 0.30** 0.16** 0.22** 0.26** 0.32**
Under 0.44** 0.30** 0.21** 0.32** 0.40** 0.31** 0.29** 0.33** 0.46**
DAdv 0.08 0.14** 0.14** 0.59** 0.19** 0.08 0.13** 0.23** 0.14** 0.18**
DAss 0.10* 0.13** 0.15** 0.21** 0.44** 0.24** 0.15** 0.22** 0.24** 0.18**
DCon 0.43** 0.27** 0.38** 0.22** 0.34** 0.32** 0.34** 0.32** 0.42** 0.35**
DNet 0.17** 0.03 0.17** 0.24** 0.18** 0.24** 0.38** 0.18** 0.28** 0.21**
DOpen 0.25** 0.20** 0.27** 0.28** 0.26** 0.25** 0.19** 0.55** 0.18** 0.23**
DPos 0.16** 0.12** 0.19** 0.14** 0.10* 0.23** 0.17** 0.07 0.48** 0.18**
DTask 0.38** 0.26** 0.49** 0.23** 0.27** 0.37** 0.30** 0.27** 0.34** 0.75**
Note. Sat is marital satisfaction; Equit is the recoded equity indices to create a linear measure of equity; Under is
the linear sum of the equity indices. Reciprocal exchange variables were measured by the discrepancy of
perception of partners maintenance minus self-reported maintenance. DAdv is the discrepancy for advice;
DAss is the discrepancy for assurances; DCon is the discrepancy for integrative conflict management; DNet is
the discrepancy for social networks; DOpen is the discrepancy for openness; DPos is the discrepancy for
positivity; DTask is the discrepancy for tasks. Self-interest variables were measured by the perception of the
partners use of maintenance. PAdv is the perception of the partners use of advice; PAss is the perception of the
partners use of assurances; PCon is the perception of the partners use of integrative conflict management; PNet
is the perception of the partners use of networks; POpen is the perception of the partners use of openness; PPos
is the perception of the partners use of positivity; PTask is the perception of the partners use of task.
** = p< 0.01; * = p< 0.05.
Communication Quarterly 255
The set of independent variables for the MMR included the linear term for the
summed equity indices, which indicates the degree of being underbenefitted, and the
recoded sum of the equity indices, which creates a linear indication of equity. The
dependent variables were the seven self-reported maintenance behaviors. The multi-
variate test results were significant for both independent variables. The equation for
the linear term, which represented the perception of being underbenefitted, was (F[7,
459] = 10.68, p< 0.001, WilksΛ= 0.86, Ƞ
p2
= 0.14, power = 1.0), and the equation for
the recoded index of equity was (F[7, 459] = 2.06, p< 0.001, WilksΛ= 0.97,
Ƞ
p2
= 0.03, power = 0.80). Significant univariate results were found for assurances,
conflict management, positivity, sharing tasks, and social networks, explaining from
Table 3 The Effect of Equity Groups on Self-Reported Maintenance
MSEM F (p) Ƞ
p2
Power
Advice
Under 3.66 0.08 4.79 (0.009) 0.02 0.80
Equity 3.97 0.06
Over 3.87 0.09
Assurances
Under 3.90
a
0.08 20.19 (0.000) 0.08 1.0
Equity 4.38
b
0.06
Over 4.35
b
0.09
Conflict
Under 3.93
a
0.06 6.67 (0.001) 0.03 0.91
Equity 4.21
ab
0.05
Over 4.01
b
0.08
Network
Under 3.12
a
0.10 16.77 (0.000) 0.07 1.0
Equity 3.80
b
0.08
Over 3.74
b
0.11
Openness
Under 3.65
a
0.08 4.91 (0.007) 0.02 0.81
Equity 4.00
b
0.06
Over 3.94
b
0.09
Positivity
Under 6.02
a
0.09 9.32 (0.000) 0.04 0.98
Equity 6.51
b
0.07
Over 6.31
ab
0.11
Tasks
Under 4.28
a
0.06 6.89 (0.001) 0.03 0.92
Equity 4.35
a
0.05
Over 4.02
b
0.07
Note. means with different superscripts represent significant differences between groups.
256 M. Dainton
1% to 4% of the variance. Results, reported in Table 4, suggest that the way in which
equity is measured has some impact on the results, as there were variations in
significant equations dependent upon the measurement used. However, the results
for the continuous measure of equity and the categorical measure were extremely
similar.
The third research question asked whether perceived equity was associated with
perceptions of the reciprocal exchange of maintenance (i.e., rewards minus costs).
Again, MANOVA was used to answer the question, with the three equity groups used
as the independent variable. Results, reported in Table 5, suggest that the reciprocal
exchange of maintenance did vary by equity group (F[14, 870] = 12.65, p< 0.001,
WilksΛ= 0.69). A Bonferroni correction was set at 0.007. Significant univariate
equations were found for equity differences for six maintenance behaviors. The results
indicate that individuals in underbenefitted relationships perceived themselves as
engaging in relatively more maintenance behaviors than they perceived their partners
performing. Also, counter to what we might expect from equity theory predictions,
being overbenefitted was not significantly different from being equitable in the
reciprocal exchange of maintenance behavior with the exception of sharing tasks; in
that case, individuals in overbenefitted relationships reported that their partners did
relatively more tasks than they reported doing themselves. The variance explained
ranged from a low of 2% of the variance (for networks) to a high of 23% of the
variance (for tasks).
Table 4 Multivariate Multiple Regression Results for Perceived Underbenefittedness and
the Recoded Linear Measure of Equity on Relationship Maintenance
Variable Parameter Estimate t p F DF P
Underbenefitted 10.68 7, 459 0.00
Advice 0.04 1.2 0.228
Assurances 0.20 4.01 0.000
Conflict 0.04 1.05 0.295
Network 0.16 3.74 0.000
Openness 0.06 1.21 0.227
Positivity 0.07 1.78 0.076
Tasks 0.13 3.14 0.002
Equity 2.06 7, 459 0.05
Advice 0.06 1.21 0.228
Assurances 0.23 3.13 0.002
Conflict 0.18 2.87 0.004
Network 0.14 2.23 0.026
Openness 0.10 1.24 0.214
Positivity 0.16 2.88 0.004
Tasks 0.15 2.52 0.012
Communication Quarterly 257
The final research question asked about the relative contributions of general equity,
the reciprocal exchange of maintenance, and self-interested maintenance on marital
satisfaction. To answer the question, a hierarchical linear regression equation with
forward entry was calculated, with the linear term for underbenefittedness and the
recoded equity measure entered in the first step; the discrepancy scores for main-
tenance in the second step; and the perception of the partners use of maintenance in
the third step. All three steps were significant. Results, reported in Table 6, suggest
that all three sets of independent variables entered the equation for satisfaction. In the
final model, significant contributors were underbenefittedness (β=0.15); equity
(β= 0.13); when the individual reported their partner using more integrative conflict
Table 5 Equity Differences in the Reciprocal Exchange of Maintenance (i.e., RewardsCosts)
MSD F (p) Ƞ
p2
Power
Advice
Under 0.36 2.29 6.93 (0.02) 0.02 0.72
Equity 0.17 1.82
Over 0.28 1.79
Assurances
Under 0.52
a
2.24 11.86 (0.003) 0.03 0.88
Equity 0.11
b
1.40
Over 0.11
b
1.88
Conflict
Under 2.67
a
2.89 81.42 (0.000)
Equity 0.81
b
2.07
Over 0.22
b
2.05 0.15 1.0
Network
Under 0.21
a
1.82 13.10 (.003) 0.02 0.87
Equity 0.02
a
1.02
Over 0.40
b
1.20
Openness
Under 1.40
a
3.37 24.24 (0.000) 0.07 1.0
Equity 0.03
b
2.12
Over 0.12
b
2.14
Positivity
Under 5.65
a
2.35 23.43 (0.000) 0.05 0.99
Equity -4.92
b
1.59
Over -4.44
b
2.01
Tasks
Under 3.02
a
3.64 135.66 (0.000) 0.23 1.0
Equity 0.23
b
2.15
Over 1.06
c
2.79
Note. Means with different superscripts represent significant differences between groups.
258 M. Dainton
management than they reported (β= 0.19); and the perception of their partners use
of assurances (β= 0.45) and positivity (β= 0.15). Accordingly, all three approaches
were associated with marital satisfaction.
Discussion
The results of this study provide support for social exchange approaches to marital
maintenance, with equity and reciprocal exchange of maintenance predicting nearly
Table 6 Equity, Social Exchange, and Self-Interest in Maintenance Regressed on Satisfaction
ΒSemipartial R
2
Change F
Step 1 0.28 83.52 (2, 441), p< 0.001
Underbenefit 0.37*** 0.39
Equity 0.27*** 0.29
Step 2 0.09 27.41 (9, 434), p< 0.001
Underbenefit 0.22*** 0.22
Equity 0.22*** 0.24
Disc Assur 0.07 0.08
Disc Con 0.28*** 0.27
Disc Posit 0.09* 0.10
Disc Tasks 0.13** 0.13
Disc Advice 0.02 0.02
Disc Network 0.06 0.07
Disc Openness 0.08 0.09
Step 3 0.23 38.28 (16, 427), p< 0.001
Underbenefit 0.15*** 0.18
Equity 0.13*** 0.18
Disc Assur 0.05 0.07
Disc Con 0.19*** 0.20
Disc Posit 0.09 0.09
Disc Tasks 0.06 0.05
Disc Advice 0.04 0.05
Disc Network 0.03 0.04
Disc Openness 0.04 0.04
Partner Assur 0.45*** 0.40
Partner Con 0.00 0.00
Partner Posit 0.15* 0.10
Partner Tasks 0.00 0.00
Partner Advice 0.02 0.02
Partner Network 0.03 0.03
Partner Openness 0.05 0.05
Adj. R
2
= 0.57
*p< 0.05, ** p< 0.01, *** p< 0.000
Communication Quarterly 259
38% of the variance in satisfaction. Of course, 23% of the variance in marital
satisfaction was based on self-interest alone. Too, these results support both sides of
the arguments proposed by Canary and Stafford (2007) in favor of an equity explana-
tion of maintenance as well as the counter-arguments proposed by Ragsdale and
Brandau-Brown (2007a,2007b) regarding the limited ability of equity to explain
maintenance. Indeed, it seems as though one can see the usefulness of an equity
theory explanation for maintenance as a glass being either half full (equity is pre-
dictably related to maintenance) or half empty (equity alone does not fully predict
maintenance, nor are the central tenets of the theory fully supported) depending on
the theoretical commitments of the person doing the interpretation.
For those committed to an equity explanation for relational maintenance, using the
traditional method of creating three equity groups resulted in significant univariate
effects for equity on six of the seven self-reported maintenance strategies. Previous
research has not found such consistent results, perhaps because of variations in the
nature of the samples or methods used; for example, some samples included both
dating and married individuals (Dainton, 2003), some included only dating indivi-
duals (Hess et al., 2009), and some focused on perceptions of the partners behavior
rather than self-reported maintenance (Canary & Stafford, 2001). Indeed, the research
linking equity to relationship maintenance is difficult to synthesize because of varia-
tions in sample types, nature of the relationship being studied, and measurement
variations. Future research should seek to replicate the findings of this study using a
similar sample and methods. Nevertheless, the fact that equity was consistently related
to maintenance enactment in this study supports the use of the theory in future
maintenance research.
However, there are implications for the way equity is measured. The second research
question of this study was asked in response to Ragsdale and Brandau-Browns(2007a)
critique of the practice of using continuous data to create categorical groups. In this study
two methods were used for creating a linear measure of equity; a sum of the equity
measures, which in essence creates a linear measure of being overbenefitted, and a
recoded equity measure created by following the procedures described by Schafer et al.
(1984). The results suggest that when using the recoded measure, equity was associated
with greater use of five of the seven maintenance behaviors, a near identical result to that
which was found when using the categorical measure. The sole difference was that the
categorical measure found a significant difference in the use of openness, with those
individuals who perceived themselves being underbenefitted reporting less of this activity.
Interestingly, the linear measure of underbenefittedness failed to find this distinction. In
fact, the linear measure of underbenefittedness suggested only three significant differ-
ences, with individuals who perceived themselves as being underbenefitted reporting
fewer assurances and networks, and engaging in more sharing tasks. As a specific answer
to the research question, it appears that using the recoded linear measure of equity
provides a near identical result to those found when using the categorical measure.
Given the statistical challenges associated with turning continuous data into categorical
data (MacCallum et al., 2002), future research should utilize the Schafer et al. (1984)
method of transforming equity measurements.
260 M. Dainton
It is noteworthy, however, that the original predictions of equity theory were not
supported. The original formulation of equity would suggest that both forms of
inequity are equally distressing. However, the distributive justice function of equity
theory fails to emerge in many empirical tests (see Dainton, 2003; Sprecher, 2001),
including the results of this study. Accordingly, there appears to be an important
distinction that needs to be made regarding equity and maintenance; it does not seem
to be true that individuals who perceive themselves as being in an equitable relation-
ship universally perform more maintenance but, rather, that the experience of being
underbenefitted has important implications for an individuals maintenance efforts.
Future theoretical work should center on how and why the experience of feeling
disadvantaged explains performing maintenance. Conjointly, future empirical work
should include not only a linear measure of equity but also a measure of over-
benefittedness in order to assess this phenomenon.
Before considering other results, it should be noted that Hess et al. (2009) also
questioned whether measurement variations make a difference in explaining main-
tenance. They contrasted a single-item measure of equity (Hatfields global measure)
with a computed measure that assessed an individuals perceived inputs and outcomes
and their perception of their partners inputs and outcomes. Their results suggest that
the two measures are not measuring the same thing, as the correlation between the
two was moderate at best, and the two measures varied in the extent to which they
predicted relational characteristics. Hess et al. do not conclude which measure is
better, but they call for additional focus on the psychometric qualities of measuring
maintenance. The results of the present study suggest that their call is important and
deserves further scrutiny.
The first research question asked was whether there was an interaction between sex
and perceived equity on maintenance behaviors. The results failed to find a significant
interaction effect. Previous research has supported an equity theory explanation for
wife-defined equity groups only (Canary & Stafford, 1992; Stafford & Canary, 2006),
and that equity theory predictions regarding maintenance were weaker for men than
for women (Ledbetter et al., 2013), so the lack of an interaction effect is intriguing.
However, previous research has indicated that women tend to report being more
underbenefitted in marriage, and men tend to report being more overbenefitted in
marriage (Feeney, Peterson, & Noller, 1994), which was the case in this sample as well
(F[1, 539] = 17.94, p< 0.001, Male M=0.04, Female M= 0.90]. Accordingly,
previous research, which has analyzed men and women separately because of non-
independence of data, has uncovered differences that may not be based on sex but on
perceived inequity in the relationship. That is, equity theory predictions are significant
for those who perceive themselves to be underbenefitted, regardless of their sex.
Continuing with challenges to an equity perspective of maintenance, in this study,
relatively little of the variance in self-reported maintenance was predicted by equity.
Using the categorical measure, equity predicted between 2% of the variance (for
openness) to 8% of the variance (for assurances). When using the linear measure of
equity, the variance explained decreased to between 1% (for shared networks) to 4%
(for assurances). These findings are relatively consistent with previous research;
Communication Quarterly 261
although Dainton (2003) found that up to 16% of the variance in conflict manage-
ment was explained by equity variables, Yum and Canary (2009) found that equity
explained only 2% of the variance in maintenance enactment. Notwithstanding
Canary and Staffords(2007) argument that these results are moderate to large in
effect size, the fact remains that equity alone does not seem to provide a complete
picture of why an individual engages in particular maintenance behaviors.
In studying friendship maintenance, Forsythe and Ledbetter (2015) argued that
rather than comparing different theories for their relative ability to explain main-
tenance, a more fruitful approach would be to diversifyby seeking to combine
different approaches to explain maintenance. This study accomplished diversification
by considering multiple ways of measuring equity and by including reciprocal
exchange, which is simply rewards minus costs, and self-interest, which is the
perception of the partners use of maintenance, in conjunction with equity. Recall
that previous research has found support for reciprocity of maintenance enactment
(Dainton, 2011; Dainton & Stafford, 1993,2000; Oswald, Clark, & Kelly, 2004; Weigel
& Ballard-Reisch, 1997). One notable finding of this study was that there were
significant differences in the reciprocal exchange of maintenance by equity group
for six of the seven maintenance behaviors. These variations make conceptual sense;
individuals in underbenefitted relationships reported engaging in more maintenance
behavior relative to their perceptions of their partners use of maintenance than did
individuals in overbenefitted relationships. Although these results are not surprising,
they do provide a practical implication for future research. Scholars have appropri-
ately pointed out that some previous research that claims to test equity principles have
not included the distributive justice function associated with the theory (see Hess
et al., 2009). The results of this study suggest that perhaps the failure to include an
assessment of fairness might not be as problematic as one might assume, since
reciprocal exchange and equity seem to function in a similar fashion, and in this
studyand othersoverbenefittedness is not predictive of maintenance enactment.
Further, the findings relative to equity differences in reciprocal exchange provide
some intriguing areas for future research. A careful examination of the results shows
that for assurances, networks, and openness, underbenefitted individuals perceived
themselves as engaging in more maintenance relative to their partners, as one might
expect. Also as expected, individuals in overbenefitted relationships recognized that
they were advantaged in terms of sharing tasks. However, for both conflict manage-
ment and positivity the discrepancy scores were negative regardless of equity group
(although the negative discrepancy score was still significantly larger for individuals in
underbenefitted relationships than those in equitable or overbenefitted relationships).
What is it about positivity and conflict management that leads people to perceive that
they are doing more than their partners, even when they report being in an equitable
or overbenefitted relationship? Is it that it is more effortful to be positive and to be
forgiving in a relationship than it is to do other behaviors? Birchler, Weiss, and
Vincent (1975) notably found that married partners are nicer to strangers than they
are to their spouse. If one defines effort by the strategic (vs. routine) use of behavior,
however, it does not seem likely that being positive and using more integrative conflict
262 M. Dainton
management requires more effort; Dainton and Aylor (2002) did not find any
significant differences in the likelihood that conflict management would be enacted
strategically than routinely, and found that positivity was more likely to be enacted
routinely. Future research should investigate why this pattern emerged.
The central focus of this research was the extent to which equity, equality, and self-
interest might work together to explain marital satisfaction. The results indicate that a
substantial amount of the variance in satisfaction could be predicted by these three
variables. Further, all three contributed significantly to the equation, suggesting that
diversification in theoretical approaches is important (Forsythe & Ledbetter, 2015). As
with previous research, the use of assurances emerged as a potent predictor of
satisfaction and, to a lesser extent, so did the use of positivity. The importance of
these two maintenance behaviors has been consistent across numerous studies (Dain-
ton, 2000; Dainton & Gross, 2008; Stafford & Canary, 1991; Stafford et al., 2000). Too,
married individuals are particularly satisfied when their partner engages in relatively
more integrative conflict management than they do themselves. Both equity and
perceived underbenefittedness were significant predictors, even after the reciprocal
exchange and self-interest variables were added to the equation.
Despite the relative success in predicting marital satisfaction in this study, there are a
number of limitations that deserve acknowledgement. First, regardless of the techniques
used in data analysis (i.e., using the measures as continuous data or creating three equity
groups), this study relied on two single-item measures of equity. Hess et al. (2009)
challenged this approach to measuring equity, arguing for the original formulation of the
theory, which was comprised by assessing four judgments: self and partner inputs and self
and partner outcomes (Walster, Berscheid, & Walster, 1973). Hess et al. did a direct test of a
single-tem measure of maintenance with the computed score created by using the Walster
et al. (1973) method in studying friendship maintenance. Their results found limited
support for the computed measurement of equity but not for the single-item measure.
However, three issues muddy the conclusions they drew. First, Hess et al. studied friendship
maintenance rather than marital maintenance. Second, previous research has not used a
single-item measure but, rather, an index composed of two different single-item measures,
one that focuses on a general perception of equity (Sprecher, 1986) and a second that focuses
on perceived equity in the moment (Hatfield et al., 1979). As such, the results of their study
are not comparable to previous studies. Finally, rather than considering maintenance as
consisting of multiple independent factors, they collapsed these factors into a single latent
variable they called maintenance. Such an approach glosses over the varying relationships
the maintenance factors have with equity and might explain the lack of significant results
they reported. Nonetheless, in support for Hess et al.s contention, and as can be seen by the
results of this study, the appropriate measurement of equity remains an open question.
A related concern centers on the ways that the links between equity and maintenance
have been conceptualized in this and other research. The research conducted to date has
focused on the extent to which generalized relational equity might predict either self-
reported or perception of partners relationship maintenance. It may be, however, that
equity plays a different role in explaining the marital experience. Perhaps equity should not
be perceived as an independent variable with maintenance as the dependent variable; rather,
Communication Quarterly 263
perhaps equity of maintenance enactment (independent variable) predicts marital satisfac-
tion (dependent variable). Thus far this approach has not been researched (although Oswald
et al., claimed to do so, they actually measured equity as rewards minus costs without the
fairness component). Hess et al. (2009) have wondered whether self-interest predicts
maintenance use but that the equitable use of maintenance behaviors predicts satisfaction.
Future research should seek to determine whether this proposition is true, with a particular
focus on operationalizing equity via fairness of maintenance enactment.
Finally, Ragsdale and Brandau-Brown (2007a,2007b) argued that alternative explana-
tions might be in play when considering the relationship between equity and relationship
maintenance. For example, they argued that marriages follow communal rules rather than
exchange rules (Clark & Mills, 1979). A communal orientation focuses on concern for the
othersneeds; as such, benefits are given regardless of whether the person anticipates
receiving benefits in return. Conversely, an exchange orientation is the assumption that
when an individual gives a benefit, he or she is expecting that the other person will
reciprocate with a similar benefit. Research does suggest that communal and exchange
orientations affect the relationship between equity and satisfaction. For example, Buunk and
VanYperen(1991) found that equity theory predictions applied only to individuals high in
exchange orientation. However, Van Yperen and Buunk (1991) found that exchange
orientation was not a moderator between equity and satisfaction. Conversely, Buunk and
DeDreu (2006) found that a communal orientation moderated the relationship between
equity and satisfaction.
Regarding how communal and exchange orientations might be associated with relation-
ship maintenance, in a series of studies, Ledbetter and colleagues have operationalized an
exchange approach as equity theory and a communal approach as self-expansion theory
(Ledbetter, 2013; Ledbetter et al., 2013). They found that although equity and self-expansion
approaches were equivalent predictors of maintenance for women, self-expansion was a
better predictor of mens maintenance. Although there are conceptual connections between
self-expansion and a communal orientation, and equity and exchange orientation, as of yet,
there has been no direct test of the impact of these orientations on the maintenance process.
Future research should seek to determine whether communal and exchange orientations
impact the equitable and reciprocal exchange of maintenance. It may be that equity
principles are, as Hess et al. (2009) proposed, a powerful motive for only a small portion
of the population(p. 187). Yet, although equity does not appear to be fully explain
maintenance, it is nevertheless an important factor in the process of relational maintenance
that scholars ignore at their own peril(Forsythe & Ledbetter, 2015,p.338).Theresultsof
this study provide empirical support for that claim, especially as regards the perception of
being underbenefitted, while at the same time suggesting that additional variables warrant
attention.
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Communication Quarterly 267
... In the implementation of equity theory on relationship maintenance research, one's use of maintenance behaviors is considered to be his/her inputs (costs) for self; on the other hand, these inputs become outcomes (rewards) for the other partner (Canary and Stafford 1992;Stafford 2003). Empirical evidence has demonstrated that perceived relational equity is a This study is part of the first author's Ph.D dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational Sciences, Middle East Technical University under the supervision of the second author predictor of engagement in self-reported and perceived partner use of maintenance behaviors (e.g., Canary and Stafford 1992;Dainton 2016;Jackson 2010). Along with its predictor role, relational equity as a desired state of marriage is also considered to be encouraged using maintenance behaviors (Dainton and Zelley 2006). ...
... In other words, relational equity is considered both as a predictor and an outcome of engagement in maintenance behaviors. Prior research has mostly investigated the predictor role of relational equity in explaining maintenance behaviors (e.g., Canary and Stafford 1992;Dainton 2016;Yum and Canary 2009); however, less is known about the role of relational equity as an outcome of maintenance behavior engagement. Inspired by this scarcity in the literature, we sought to provide a unique perspective of the bidirectional nature of the association between perceived equity and relationship maintenance behaviors. ...
... The equity principle that guides Canary and Stafford's (1994) maintenance research is that "people are more motivated to maintain equitable relationships than inequitable relationships" (p. 7). Accordingly, research has largely supported that perceived equity is a notable and positive predictor of self-reported and partner use of maintenance behaviors (e.g., Canary and Stafford 1992;Jackson 2010) while inequitable relationships lead to less frequent self-reported and partner use of maintenance behaviors (Canary and Stafford 2001;Dainton 2016;Stafford 2003;Stafford and Canary 2006). Additionally, research showed that the most satisfying marriages are the most equitable ones and higher levels of perceived equity in marriage correlate with more frequent use of maintenance behaviors (Stafford and Canary 2006). ...
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This study investigated the role of self-reported and perceived partners’ use of maintenance behaviors (openness, sharing tasks, and positivity) on marital satisfaction through the indirect roles of relational equity and appreciation (felt and expressed). We used a sample of 602 married individuals living in Turkey to test two hypothesized models using Structural Equation Modeling. Our results from the first model indicated that the indirect associations between self-reported use of maintenance behaviors and marital satisfaction were explained by the individual mediator role of felt appreciation and serial indirect role of felt appreciation and relational equity. On the other hand, the results of the second model indicated that the indirect associations between partners’ use of maintenance behaviors and marital satisfaction were explained by the individual mediator roles of relational equity and expressed appreciation as well as the serial indirect role of relational equity and expressed appreciation. We discussed the implications for theory, research and practice, and recommendations for further studies.
... In the implementation of equity theory on relationship maintenance research, one's use of maintenance behaviors is considered to be his/her inputs (costs) for self; on the other hand, these inputs become outcomes (rewards) for the other partner (Canary and Stafford 1992;Stafford 2003). Empirical evidence has demonstrated that perceived relational equity is a This study is part of the first author's Ph.D dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational Sciences, Middle East Technical University under the supervision of the second author predictor of engagement in self-reported and perceived partner use of maintenance behaviors (e.g., Canary and Stafford 1992;Dainton 2016;Jackson 2010). Along with its predictor role, relational equity as a desired state of marriage is also considered to be encouraged using maintenance behaviors (Dainton and Zelley 2006). ...
... In other words, relational equity is considered both as a predictor and an outcome of engagement in maintenance behaviors. Prior research has mostly investigated the predictor role of relational equity in explaining maintenance behaviors (e.g., Canary and Stafford 1992;Dainton 2016;Yum and Canary 2009); however, less is known about the role of relational equity as an outcome of maintenance behavior engagement. Inspired by this scarcity in the literature, we sought to provide a unique perspective of the bidirectional nature of the association between perceived equity and relationship maintenance behaviors. ...
... The equity principle that guides Canary and Stafford's (1994) maintenance research is that "people are more motivated to maintain equitable relationships than inequitable relationships" (p. 7). Accordingly, research has largely supported that perceived equity is a notable and positive predictor of self-reported and partner use of maintenance behaviors (e.g., Canary and Stafford 1992;Jackson 2010) while inequitable relationships lead to less frequent self-reported and partner use of maintenance behaviors (Canary and Stafford 2001;Dainton 2016;Stafford 2003;Stafford and Canary 2006). Additionally, research showed that the most satisfying marriages are the most equitable ones and higher levels of perceived equity in marriage correlate with more frequent use of maintenance behaviors (Stafford and Canary 2006). ...
... There are two reasons to frame this study within equity theory. First, and most important, the bulk of research into relational maintenance has used social exchange principles in general, and equity theory in particular (Dainton, 2017a). Scholars have determined that one's own prosocial maintenance enactment is perceived as a cost, and receiving the partner's prosocial maintenance behavior is perceived as a reward. ...
... Accordingly, individuals who perceive their relationship to be equitable engage in more prosocial maintenance than individuals who perceive themselves to be underbenefitted (Canary & Stafford, 1992;Stafford & Canary, 2006). Note that although the theory would predict the use of fewer prosocial maintenance behaviors among those who perceive themselves to be overbenefitted, research has not supported this prediction (see Dainton, 2017a). Of interest, the sole maintenance behavior used most often by overbenefitted individuals is avoidance, a negative behavior (Dainton & Gross, 2008). ...
... Consistent with previous maintenance research (Dainton, 2017a), this study used the tenets of equity theory. Described earlier, equity theory predicts that individuals in equitable relationships should use more prosocial and less negative maintenance than individuals in inequitable relationships (Canary & Stafford, 1992). ...
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Research indicates that individuals in remarriages experience less marital satisfaction than individuals in a first marriage. This study sought to determine whether variations in equity and maintenance might explain this phenomenon. A sample of 547 married individuals from the United States completed an online survey. Results suggested virtually no differences in the use of positive or negative maintenance by marriage type. Although maintenance use predicted a larger amount of the variance in satisfaction among those who were remarried, more maintenance behaviors entered the regression equation predicting satisfaction for individuals in first marriages. Finally, equity predicted the use of maintenance for both marriage types.
... Debido a la importancia del constructo de permanencia en las relaciones de pareja gran parte de la inves gación se ha centrado en los factores relacionados con el mantenimiento (Weigel, Lalasz, & Weiser, 2016;Dainton, 2017) y la disolución de una relación (Agnew & VanderDri , 2014;Fox, Osborn, & Warber, 2014) reflejando la importancia de la comprensión de por qué las relaciones persisten frente a las fallas. Este interés está bien sustentado, ya que se ha encontrado que las cogniciones y comportamientos de mantenimiento de la relación se asocian con numerosos resultados posi vos para los individuos, mientras que la disolución de la relación, con resultados nega vos, por ejemplo, experimentar emociones nega vas, disminución de la salud sica y la presencia de comportamientos autodestruc vos (Rhoades, Kamp Dush, Atkins, Stanley, & Markman, 2011;Sbarra & Ferrer, 2006). ...
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p>Con base en los postulados por Díaz Guerrero (2003) acerca de las creencias, normas y valores que gobiernan los sentimientos, pensamientos y conductas involucrados en el desarollo, mantenimiento y disolución de las relaciones de pareja (Díaz Loving, & Sánchez Aragón, 1998), el propósito de este estudio fue evaluar las premisas histórico socio- culturales respecto a la permanencia relacional. Para cumplir con el objetivo se elaboró un instrumento a través de dos estudios: 1) exploratorio, se aplicó un cuestionario de preguntas abiertas a una muestra de 200 personas de la Ciudad de México. 2) A partir de las respuestas proporcionadas por los participantes se diseñó una medida con formato de respuesta tipo Likert y se aplicó a 334 adultos. Siguiendo el orden establecido en el procedimiento propuesto por Reyes Lagunes y García y Barragán (2008), la escala se conformó por 32 reactivos agrupados en cinco factores: Relación ideal, Tradición, Lealtad, Interacción satisfactoria y Coincidir, que explican en conjunto el 69.88% de la varianza total, y un coeficiente Alpha de Cronbach de .81. Los hallazgos coinciden con los fundamentos de las diferentes perspectivas teóricas del estudio de la permanencia relacional y engloban aspectos culturales particulares al contexto de la socio-cultura mexicana, los resultados se discutirán en este sentido. </p
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The purpose of this study was to explore communal strength (i.e., partner-specific communal orientation) and partner-specific exchange orientation, as well as equity, as predictors of relational maintenance. A sample of 309 heterosexual couples completed self-reports. Given the dyadic interdependence, the actor–partner independence model was used. Dyadic analyses were undertaken using structural equation modeling conducted in AMOS. Results indicated that underbenefitedness was a predictor of maintenance behaviors, but overbenefitedness was not. Communal strength was also associated with engagement in maintenance behaviors. Importantly, communal strength moderated the association between underbenefitedness and maintenance such that underbenefitedness did not result in decreases in self-reported maintenance behaviors for those with greater communal strength to the same extent as it did for those with lower communal strength. Exchange orientation also moderated the association between underbenefitedness and maintenance behaviors such that a decline in maintenance behaviors was not as pronounced for those with lower exchange orientations as those with higher exchange orientations. Findings suggest the important role relational orientations may play in enacting our relationships.
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Relationship maintenance encompasses a wide range of activities that partners use to preserve their relationships. Despite the importance of these efforts, considerably more empirical focus has been devoted to starting (i.e. initiation) and ending (i.e. dissolution) relationships than on maintaining them. In this volume, internationally renowned scholars from a variety of disciplines describe diverse sets of relationship maintenance efforts in order to show why some relationships endure, whereas others falter. By focusing on 'what to do' rather than 'what not to do' in relationships, this book paints a more comprehensive picture of the forms, functions, and contexts of relationship maintenance. It is essential reading for scholars and students in psychology, communication, human development and family science, sociology, and couple/marriage and family therapy.
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The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
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Research has identified equity, self-other inclusion, and uncertainty as predictors of relational maintenance behavior. However, theory has not synthesized these predictors into an overarching explanation of maintenance processes. Therefore, in the context of friendship, this investigation examined all three as contingent and joint predictors of maintenance, with communication satisfaction as a mediator. Data were collected by surveying a sample of college students. Although results indicated uncertainty and self-other inclusion were significant predictors mediated by communication satisfaction, equity moderated the overall effect of these predictors on maintenance. Consequently, the interaction enjoyment approach seems to serve as a partial explanation of maintenance, and that, although equity is not a primary motivator of friends’ maintenance behavior, it may influence sensitivity to uncertainty and closeness in the friendship.
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Using a conception of reciprocal rather than distributive justice, we investigate the fairness of power strategies in exchange networks. We propose that norms of fairness affect the risk of using different strategies, by influencing the probability that they will provoke retaliation or resistance. Using computer-simulated actors to manipulate strategies, we investigate how subjects perceive and respond to their partners' strategies that vary in reciprocity and power base. As predicted, subjects in power-balanced networks judged both reward- and punishment-based power strategies as more unfair than reciprocal strategies, and punishment strategies as more unfair than equally nonreciprocal reward strategies. Punishment strategies provoked more resistance than reward strategies but, unexpectedly, no greater retaliation. Over time, the instrumental effects of the strategies tended to overcome reactions to injustice.
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This study examined the relation between perceived inequity and the experience of a variety of emotions in close, heterosexual relationship. The first goal was to test two hypotheses derived from Equity theory: (a) Perceived inequity is positively related to negative affect and negatively related to positive affect; and (b) Underbenefiting inequity is related to positive and negative affect to a greater degree than is overbenefiting inequity. The second goal of the study was to determine which specific emotions are most related to inequity. The third goal was to examine the impact of inequity on the emotions experienced, relative to the effects of other possible predictors. These issues were examined in a survey study of more than 500 men and women. The results indicated that inequity is related, in the directions predicted, to positive and negative emotions experienced in the relationship, even controlling for other determinants of emotions. The strength of the relationship was found to depend on the specific type of emotion examined, whether the inequity was in the underbenefiting or overbenefiting direction, and the gender of the individual.
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Through application of the interactionist model of the reflexive self, his study examined the relationship between equity/inequity and the self-concept. The combination of these two perspectives was accomplished through a causal model based on path analysis and multiple regression. Three hundred and twenty-nine married coulpes were randomly selected and interviewed. A general measure of perceived equity/inequity in the marital relationship was taken. Measures of the reflexive self were: marriage partners'self-concepts, partners' perceptions of their spouses' evaluations of them and spouses' acutal evaluations of their paterns. Findings supported the prediction of a relationship between perceived equity/inequity in the marriage relationship and marriage partners' self-concepts. However, consistent with the theory of the reflexive self, much of the effect of equity/inequity in the marriage relationship and marriage partners' self-concepts. However, consistent with the theory of the reflexive self, much of the effect of equity/inequity on self-concept was mediated via partners' perceptions of their spouses' appraisals of them. These findings were analyzed by defining equity/inequity as a communication between marriage partners through which the meanings spouses have for each other are expressed and become incorporated as part of the spouses' self-identities.