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Neuroticism and Close Relationships: How Negative Affect is Linked with Relationship Disaffection in Couples

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Dispositional vulnerability afforded by personality can lead to adverse relationship outcomes. Neuroticism personality is bundled with a disadvantageous temperament that makes people high in neuroticism more sensitive to negativity. Consequently, neuroticism signifies negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and sadness. Neuroticism is also inversely related to marital satisfaction. The present study examined the relationship between relationship disaffection (emotional indifference) and negative affect in the context of neuroticism. The present study included 819 participants (511 females, 308 males) between the ages of 18 years to 74 years (M = 27.16, SD = 10.58) who were in a committed or married heterosexual relationship. Our mediation model explored the relationship between neuroticism and relationship disaffection with negative affect acting as a mediator. We found a modest indirect relationship between neuroticism and relationship disaffection via negative affect. Acknowledging that individuals high in neuroticism are temperamentally sensitive to negative stimuli, therapists can assist partners in learning ways to curb negative mood to combat relationship disaffection. Future studies can build on these findings and design research addressing the limitation of the present study.
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The American Journal of Family Therapy
ISSN: 0192-6187 (Print) 1521-0383 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uaft20
Neuroticism and Close Relationships: How
Negative Affect is Linked with Relationship
Disaffection in Couples
Irum Saeed Abbasi, Neelam Rattan, Tehmina Kousar & Fatma Khalifa
Elsayed
To cite this article: Irum Saeed Abbasi, Neelam Rattan, Tehmina Kousar & Fatma Khalifa
Elsayed (2018): Neuroticism and Close Relationships: How Negative Affect is Linked
with Relationship Disaffection in Couples, The American Journal of Family Therapy, DOI:
10.1080/01926187.2018.1461030
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/01926187.2018.1461030
Published online: 07 Jun 2018.
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Neuroticism and Close Relationships: How Negative Affect
is Linked with Relationship Disaffection in Couples
Irum Saeed Abbasi
a
, Neelam Rattan
b
, Tehmina Kousar
c
, and Fatma Khalifa Elsayed
d
a
San Jose State University, Psychology, San Jose, USA;
b
San Jose State University, Psychology, San Jose,
CA, USA;
c
Fatima Jinnah Women University, Psychology, Rawalpindi, Pakistan;
d
King Abdul Aziz
University, Arts and Humanities, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
ARTICLE HISTORY
Received 31 July 2017
Revised 20 March 2018
Accepted 27 March 2018
ABSTRACT
Dispositional vulnerability afforded by personality can lead to
adverse relationship outcomes. Neuroticism personality is
bundled with a disadvantageous temperament that makes
people high in neuroticism more sensitive to negativity.
Consequently, neuroticism signies negative emotions such as
anger, anxiety, and sadness. Neuroticism is also inversely related
to marital satisfaction. The present study examined the
relationship between relationship disaffection (emotional
indifference) and negative affect in the context of neuroticism.
The present study included 819 participants (511 females, 308
males) between the ages of 18 years to 74 years (MD27.16, SD D
10.58) who were in a committed or married heterosexual
relationship. Our mediation model explored the relationship
between neuroticism and relationship disaffection with negative
affect acting as a mediator. We found a modest indirect
relationship between neuroticism and relationship disaffection
via negative affect. Acknowledging that individuals high in
neuroticism are temperamentally sensitive to negative stimuli,
therapists can assist partners in learning ways to curb negative
mood to combat relationship disaffection. Future studies can
build on these ndings and design research addressing the
limitation of the present study.
Personality, partly determined by genetics, is relatively stable (Bouchard & McGue,
2003; Ganiban et al., 2009). The classical way of describing human personality
involves the Big Five personality dimensions: conscientiousness, openness to expe-
rience, neuroticism, extraversion, and agreeableness (Longley et al., 2017; McCrae
& Costa, 1997). The inuence of personality traits on mood and behaviors, which
eventually affect marital outcomes, is studied extensively (Akram & Malik 2011;
Gattis, Berns, Simpson, & Christensen, 2004; Karney & Bradbury, 1995;1997;
Knabb & Vogt, 2011; Luo et al., 2008; McCabe, 2006; Nemechek & Olson 1999). A
meta-analysis of marital research based on the Big Five traits found that
CONTACT Irum Saeed Abbasi irum.abbasi@gmail.com
© 2018 Taylor & Francis
THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF FAMILY THERAPY
https://doi.org/10.1080/01926187.2018.1461030
neuroticism is most strongly related to negative marital outcomes when compared
with the other four personality traits (Heller, Watson, & Ilies, 2004; Karney &
Bradbury, 1995). Generally, individuals high in neuroticism report less satisfaction
with their partners (Gattis et al., 2004; White, Hendrick, & Hendrick, 2004) than
those who are low in neuroticism. For the present study, we were interested in the
neuroticism personality dimension; therefore, we will limit our discussion to
neuroticism.
Neuroticism is described as a tendency to experience negative affect and is also a
measure of mood and emotional control (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Individuals high
in neuroticism are "prone to have irrational ideas, be less able to control their
impulses, and cope more poorly than others with stress" (Costa & McCrae, 1992,
p.14). Such individuals are typically portrayed as anxious, moody, and depressed,
which is contrasted by the calm demeanor and good emotional control displayed
by individuals who are low in neuroticism (Costa & McCrae, 1992; Orchard &
Fullwood, 2010). Research on personality and emotional distress revealed that
symptoms of general distress (e.g., anger, depression, and anxiety) are related to
personality, particularly neuroticism (Costa & McCrae, 1995; Smith & Mumma,
2008). There are many facets of neuroticism such as anxiety, angry hostility, self-
consciousness, vulnerability, and depression (Renshaw, Blais, & Smith, 2010); nev-
ertheless, neuroticism is more often used interchangeably with negative affectivity,
which is a disposition towards reporting "distress, discomfort, and dissatisfaction
over time and regardless of the situation, even in the absence of any overt or objec-
tive source of stress" (Watson & Clark, 1984, p. 483). With this temperament, it is
no surprise that neuroticism is linked with experiencing low social support (Swick-
ert, Hittner, Harris, & Herring, 2002), feelings of loneliness (Correa, Hinsley, & de
Zuniga, 2010), and fear of rejection (Malone, Pillow, & Osman, 2012).
In the context of romantic relationships, individual differences in neuroticism are
strongly connected with marital dissatisfaction (Abbasi, 2017;Gattisetal.,2004;Karney
& Bradbury, 1995; Malouff, Thorsteinsson, Schutte, Bhullar, & Rooke, 2010;White
et al., 2004). Theoretically, many models support this connection. For example, the
relationship-inuence model holds that the characteristic traits that spouses bring to
the marriage may inuence their overall interpersonal relationship course (Caughlin &
Vangelisti, 2000). In this context, the interpersonal model (Caughlin, Huston, & Houts,
2000; Karney & Bradbury, 1997) suggests that individuals high in neuroticism experi-
ence low relationship satisfaction because they create negative events, which are
bolstered by negative behaviors. Furthermore, the intrapersonal model (Cot
e&
Moskowitz, 1998) contends that individuals high in neuroticism perceive life events
more negatively, which in turn affects their relationship satisfaction. Empirical research
suggests that individuals high in neuroticism maintain a signicantly higher negative
affect even in neutral conditions (Abbasi, 2016). The contrast avoidance model explains
that individuals high in neuroticism tend to maintain a higher baseline negative affect
to combat the unexpected emotional shifts (Newman & Llera, 2011). Thus, during an
aversive interaction, these individuals may reach their negative affect threshold and feel
2 I. S. ABBASI ET AL.
overwhelmed with negative emotions, and eventually withdraw from the distress caus-
ing situation (Caughlin & Huston, 2006) rather than engaging in confrontation. Behav-
iors adopted during the romantic relationship may also play an important role in the
link between neuroticism and relationship outcomes. For example, evidence suggests
that sexual relationship mediates the connection between neuroticism and marital satis-
faction (Fisher & McNulty, 2008).
Furthermore, low relationship satisfaction is linked with relationship dissatisfac-
tion, which also facilitates the development of marital disaffection (Kayser, 1996).
Marital disaffection is dened as a gradual loss of love involving the "loss of emo-
tional attachment, a decline in caring, [and] an increasing sense of apathy and
indifference toward ones partner" (Kayser, 1996, p. 83). This romantic decline
that involves an emotional and affective deadening in couples is synonymously
also called romantic disengagement (Barry, Lawrence, & Langer, 2008). Relation-
ship disaffection signicantly contributes to marital breakdown (Kayser, 1993),
and disaffected spouses engage in cognitive and behavioral strategies that are
focused on disengaging with the partner physically, psychologically, and emotion-
ally (Barry, 2010; also see Abbasi & Alghamdi, 2017). In this paper, we will use the
term relationship disaffection to refer to disaffection experienced by partners in a
close relationship.
Hypothesis
As noted earlier, individuals high in neuroticism tend to maintain a height-
ened negative arousal than those who are low in neuroticism (Costa &
McCrae, 1992). Therefore, it is plausible that individuals high in neuroticism
may experience relationship disaffection because of their disposition towards
perceiving and maintaining increased negative affect than those who are low
in neuroticism. We explored a mediation model to examine the direct and
indirect paths between neuroticism and relationship disaffection. Essentially
our models explored if neuroticism is signicantly positively related to rela-
tionship disaffection via negative affect (H1). We base our support for the
proposed mediation model on the intrapersonal model (Cote ́&Moskowitz,
1998) and contrast avoidance model (Newman & Llera, 2011). Acknowledging
that negative affect is a facet of neuroticism and is also correlated with neu-
rotic traits, we suggest that it is this negative affect facet that could be making
people high in neuroticism withdrawn from their partner.
Method
Participants
The present study included 819 participants (511 females, 308 males) between the
ages of 18 years to 74 years (MD27.16, SD D10.58). Participants included in the
analyses were either in a marital (31.5%) or committed heterosexual relationship
THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF FAMILY THERAPY 3
(68.5%). The committed participants were younger (MD22.88, SD D7.80) than
married participants (MD35.98, SD D10.83). The sample was ethnically diverse:
White (34.5%), Asian (37.9%), Hispanic (20.9%), African American (5.7%), and
Native American (1%). The education of participants ranged vastly; 39.1% partici-
pants reported completing a high school diploma, 17% an Associates degree,
30.0% a Bachelors degree, 10.4% a Masters degree, 2.2% a Doctorate degree, and
1.3% a Post-Doctorate degree. The participants were mostly from the United States
(77.2%). Incomplete surveys (4%) were excluded from the analyses. Moreover,
participants who reported to be diagnosed with the mental illness were excluded
from the analyses to avoid confounding negative affect state with mental illness
(e.g., depression).
Procedure
An institutional review board (IRB) at a public US university approved the present
study. The study included an anonymous online survey administered through the
SurveyMonkey website. Participation was solicited through Snowball sampling.
The survey link was shared on the approving universitys research website, twitter,
Facebook, Linkedin, and Whats-app. Additionally, Amazon Mechanical Turk
(MTurk) was employed to recruit a wider demographic of participants. MTurk is
an online service that offers requesters(researchers) to post Human Intelligence
Tasks(HITS) for workers(participants) who independently visit the website
through a weblink. The survey link directed participants to the consent form rst,
which was followed by the main survey.
Measures
Demographic questionnaire
The demographic questionnaire included items that assessed age, gender, ethnicity,
education level, occupation, marital status, and so on.
The negative affect scale. The 10 item negative affect subscale from the positive
affect and negative affect schedule (PANAS) was used in the study. PANAS is a
20-item self- report measure developed by Watson, Clark, and Tellegen (1988)to
provide a brief measure of positive affect (PA) and negative affect (NA). The 10
NA scale items refer to negative mood experiences such as distressed, guilty, afraid,
ashamed, and nervous. To avoid mood priming, three PA affect random llers
(e.g., interested, strong, and inspired) were incorporated in the NA scale. Partici-
pants rated the degree to which they momentarily experienced each of the 13
mood conditions on a 5-point scale (1DNot at all and 5 DExtremely). The reli-
ability of NA scale for this study was high (CronbachsaD.88). The three PA
items were not included in the analyses.
4 I. S. ABBASI ET AL.
Neuroticism scale
For this study, we administered the eight item neuroticism subscale of the Big
Five Inventory (BFI). BFI contains 44 short items that cover ve major per-
sonality dimensions (John, Donahue, & Kentle, 1991). Example items include:
can be tense, worries a lot, and gets nervouseasily.Theresponseformatof
BFIisbasedona5-pointscale(1Ddisagree strongly and 5 Dagree strongly).
Some of the neuroticism scale items were reverse scored and then summed up
to get the nal score. Reliability of the neuroticism scale for this study was
high (CronbachsaD.82).
Marital disaffection scale (MDS)
Kayser (1996) developed a 21-item self- report scale to measure the level of marital
disaffection. MDS measures the elements of emotional estrangement in couples by
focusing on the experiences of indifference, lack of care, and lack of attachment
towards ones partner (Flowers, Robinson & Carroll, 2000). The marital disaffec-
tion scale is related to other evaluative scales of marital happiness (r.56) and
marital closeness (r.86; Kayser, 1996). Kayser (1996) also reported a correla-
tion of .93 (p<.001) between the MDS and Snyder and Regtsscale of disaffection
(1982). Some of the example items of MDS include: I try to avoid spending time
with my spouse, I often feel lonely even though I am with my spouse, I nd it dif-
cult to conde in my spouse about a number of things, and I seem to enjoy just
being with my spouse. The response format of the marital disaffection scale is
anchored on a 4-point Likert scale (1Dnot at all true, 4= very true). Some items
were reverse scored and all responses were summed up to get the total score.
Higher scores depict greater marital disaffection. The reliability of MDS for this
study was high (CronbachsaD.91).
Results
Table 1 shows the Pearsons bivariate correlations and mean and standard devia-
tions of the study variables and controls. For the main analyses, we conducted the
mediation analyses using HayesPROCESS Macro Model 4. For this procedure,
model 4 with 5000 bootstrapped resamples is used to compute 95% condence
Table 1. Pearson bivariate correlations and mean and standard deviations of variables (N D819).
Scales 1 2 3 4 5
1. Neuroticism .31
**
.09
**
¡.21
**
.23
**
2. Negative Affect .24
**
¡.24
**
¡.04
3. Relationship Disaffection .11
**
¡.08
*
4. Age ¡.16
**
5. Gender
M 23.10 14.57 33.45 27.01
SD 6.35 5.75 9.86 10.73
Correlation is signicant at the

p<.01.
Correlation is signicant at the
p<.05.
THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF FAMILY THERAPY 5
intervals (Hayes, 2013). In this model, neuroticism is added as a predictor variable
(X), marital disaffection is added as an outcome variable (Y), and negative affect is
added as a mediator (M). Age, gender, and the relationship status of the respond-
ents are added as control variables. In the mediation model, the relationship
between neuroticism and negative affect is denoted as [a] and the relationship
between negative affect and marital disaffection is denoted as [b]. The direct effect
is denoted as [c'], the total effect is denoted as [c] and the indirect effect is com-
puted by multiplying the two path coefcients of [a] and [b] (Hayes, 2009,2013;
Zhao, Lynch, & Chen, 2010). The PROCESS macro results show that neuroticism
predicts negative affect (path a: bD.27, t(814) D8.90 , p<.001, R
2
D.15) and
negative affect predicts marital disaffection (path b: bD.43, t(813) D7.02, p<
.001, R
2
D.10). The total effect, which represents the relationship between neuroti-
cism and marital disaffection is signicant (path c: bD.24, t(814) D4.30, p<.001,
R
2
D.05). The direct effect representing the relationship between neuroticism and
marital disaffection when the mediator is present is also signicant, but the effect
is reduced (path c': bD.12, t(813) D2.10, pD.04). We report partial mediation of
negative affect. The direct effect remains signicant when mediator is added, albeit
reduced. The indirect effect is computed at .01 level of signicance (Hayes, 2009,
2013; Zhao et al., 2010). The mediating role of negative affect between neuroticism
and marital disaffection is signicant (a £b) (bD.12, [.08, .17].
The current study reports that negative affect acts as a mediator in the relation-
ship between neuroticism and marital disaffection. Sobel test (normal theory test)
which checks if c-cis different is also signicant (zD5.50, p<.001). In essence,
our model suggests that neuroticism is linked with marital disaffection partially
through negative affect. Figure 1. shows the total and direct effects of neuroticism
on marital disaffection.
Discussion
Empirical research supports that neuroticism and negative affect are very
closely related; neuroticism is also related to adverse marital outcomes such as
relationship disaffection (Sadati, Honarmand, & Soodani, 2015;Watson&
Clark, 1984;Whiteetal.,2004). The goal of the present paper was to examine
Neuroticism
Negative Affect
Relationship
Disaffection
.27**
.43**
Figure 1. Total and direct effects of neuroticism on relationship disaffection. Total effect in paren-
theses. Correlation is signicant (

p<.01,
p<.05).
6 I. S. ABBASI ET AL.
if negative affect plays the role of a mediator in the link between neuroticism
and relationship disaffection. It is plausible that individuals high in neuroti-
cism and those who also have an elevated negative affect are more susceptible
to adverse marital outcomes. Consistent with the previous ndings (Sadati
et al., 2015), we found that an increase in neuroticism level corresponded to
an increase in the level of relationship disaffection. Our mediation model was
partially supported; when negative affect was added as a mediator, the indirect
effect of neuroticism on relationship disaffection via negative affect was signif-
icant and direct effect was reduced; albeit, it remained signicant. These
results suggest that the negative affect facet of neuroticism partially predicts
relationship disaffection. Insights from the present study could be used to
carve a therapeutic treatment plan for partners struggling with romantic
disaffection.
Implications for Therapists
The potential implications of the present study for romantic partners and
therapists are pertinent. In clinical settings, therapists treating clients who are
high in neuroticism (or have partners who are high in neuroticism) should
focus on how neuroticism could adversely inuence the couplesrelationship
and well-being. Clinicians could educate partners about the role of their neu-
rotic traits and assist them in gaining insight and taking control of their emo-
tions. Chronic stress related to poor marital adjustment has signicant
negative implications on the health of spouses (Caughlin & Huston, 2006;
Loving, Heffner, & Kiecolt-Glaser, 2006). For example, when relationship sat-
isfaction is low, depressive symptoms tend to be high (Whitton, Stanley,
Markman, & Baucom, 2008). It is noteworthy that individuals high in neuroti-
cism have an added disadvantage as neuroticism itself predicts transitory
symptoms of anxiety, anger, and depression (Martin, Watson, & Wan, 2000).
Researchers have previously examined predictors of relationship dissatisfaction
and divorce (Bradbury, Fincham, & Beach, 2000; Karney & Bradbury, 1995), and
have found neuroticism to be a longitudinal predictor of marital distress and sepa-
ration (Eysenck & Wakeeld, 1981; Kelly & Conley, 1987). Neuroticism also pre-
dicts actors (self) and partners negative communication behaviors (Caughlin
et al., 2000). Some researchers, however, argue that negative relationship outcomes
specic to neuroticism are not related to the nature of couples communication
behaviors (Karney & Bradbury, 1997). Despite this inconsistency, research sup-
ports that an adverse pattern of communication that involves high demand/with-
draw (one spouse nags and the other avoids) is positively related to neuroticism of
either spouse (Caughlin & Vangelisti, 2000). For example, a longitudinal study
involving couples found a positive relationship between newly wed wivesneuroti-
cism scores and both forms of demand/withdraw seen in their relationship pat-
terns after thirteen years (Caughlin & Huston, 2006). This pattern may be cyclical;
THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF FAMILY THERAPY 7
demand from one partner in a dyad elicits withdrawal from the other partner, and
more withdrawal elicits more demand (Caughlin & Ramey, 2005). Moreover,
therapists also contend that it is difcult to break a rigid demand/withdraw com-
munication pattern (Caughlin & Huston, 2006).
Romantic partners may withdraw from conictual situations using dis-
engagement strategies (Nichols, Backer-Fulghum, Boska, & Sanford, 2015).
Researchers have identied two different types of conict disengagements: pas-
sive immobility and withdrawal (Sanford, 2014). During passive immobility, a
partner seeks to address the conictual situation but waits for the other part-
ner to notice and take initiative to resolve the problem (expectation of mind
reading); whereas, during withdrawal, the partner deliberately avoids conic-
tual interactions with an angry partner and becomes uncommunicative or
may leave during the discussion (Nichols et al., 2015). Withdrawal is analo-
gous to Gottmans(1993) stone-walling in which a partner becomes silent and
indifferent; it is also associated with "at emotion" which is comprised of
boredom, disengagement, and indifference (Sanford, 2007). Therefore, in cou-
ples therapy, interventions are often specically targeted to curb withdrawal
behaviors that are linked with relationship malfunctioning involving emotion,
attachment, and relationship cognition (Sevier, Eldridge, Jones, Doss, & Chris-
tensen, 2008).
Furthermore, one of the most cited reason underlying close relationship dis-
tress and/or divorce is romantic disengagement (Barry, 2010) or marital disaf-
fection (Kayser, 1993,1996). Nevertheless, evidence supports that couples who
have high marital disaffection scores are also susceptible to counseling
(Kayser, 1996). Therapists may choose to measure the level of relationship dis-
affection and neuroticism in couples. However, caution is advised when dis-
cussing relationship disaffection or neuroticism scores due to the possibility of
harm from labeling one partner disaffected or neurotic. Partners, especially
those who are high in neuroticism or have partners who are high in neuroti-
cism could be educated to better manage circumstances that produce conicts
so that manifestation of their dysfunctional behaviors could be curbed (Cau-
glin & Huston, 2006). Marital satisfaction is negatively linked with neuroti-
cism in self and in the signicant other (Renshaw et al., 2010); hence, both
actor effects (the effect of self on ones own marital adjustment) and partner
effect (the effect of partner on marital adjustment) should be taken into
account when considering the inuence of neuroticism on marital satisfaction
(Renshaw et al., 2010). It is worth noting that marriage is the most conse-
quential in the development of negative affect (Beach, Martin, Blum, &
Roman, 1993), therefore, therapists should educate partners to be receptive to
positive stimuli and make an effort to ignore negative stimuli in the
environment.
Notably, relationship disaffection is manifested in low levels of excitement
during spousal interactions and a general absence of strong positive emotions,
8 I. S. ABBASI ET AL.
absence of open conict, and low levels of anger (Gottman, 1994,1999; Smith, Viv-
ian, & OLeary, 1990). In this context, emotionally focused therapy (EFT) can be
used to treat couples in distress. EFT is a multidimensional intervention that is
based on the attachment theory (Johnson & Greenberg, 1985). Attachment is the
basic human need for developing and maintaining a strong affectional bond with
the signicant other (Bowlby, 1988). Empirical evidence supports EFT interven-
tions for couples in therapy (Greenman & Johnson, 2013). EFT specically treats
attachment insecurity and attachment injury. Attachment insecurity is rooted in
the partners emotional disengagement or relationship disaffection for the signi-
cant other, which may surface in the form of negative interactions and negative
affect; whereas, attachment injury begins when the partner undermines the expec-
tation that the spouse could drive comfort at a critical moment from him or her
(Johnson, 2004). EFT treatment starts with identifying emotional experiences that
are rooted in problematic interactions. The therapist helps partners to be sensitive
and recognize their own as well as their signicant others emotional experiences,
which is followed by the restructuring of the couples interactional styles to reen-
gage the withdrawing partner. This could help in the development of a secure
attachment bond. The last step of EFT includes consolidation and integration of
the progress made in therapy (Greenman & Johnson, 2013). Also integrate behav-
ioral interventions as an additive to experiential and insight oriented models in
order clinical effectiveness with clients suffering from increased neuroticism.
Limitations and Future Directions
Several factors limit the scope of the current ndings. This study employed the
cross-sectional research design based exclusively on self-report measures collected
via the Internet. The cross-sectional design precludes us from examining the direc-
tion of the relationship between variables, and the self-report scales may be less
reliable and more biased. For example, someone who may be prone to increased
negativity may also be prone to evaluate his or her relationship disaffection more
strongly. Moreover, we did not match our 819 heterosexual participants with their
specic partner to identify if their partners also evaluated their relationship com-
paratively. Future studies can focus on dyads and explore how neuroticism
reported by both partners (self-reported and partner-reported) is linked to rela-
tionship disaffection, satisfaction, and closeness.
It is also important to mention that we did not control the environment in
which respondents took the surveys. Therefore, many variables could have con-
founded the results such as the time of the day, mental state, stress level, and
whether taken alone or in the presence of partner or others. Qualitative research
design can help researchers decipher hidden themes and guide them towards other
variables that may be affecting these results. Furthermore, these results cannot be
generalized to homosexual or bisexual populations because less than 1% of the par-
ticipants reported being in a non-heterosexual relationship. To avoid the sexual
THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF FAMILY THERAPY 9
preference confound, we only included the participants who reported to be in an
exclusively heterosexual relationship.
Other extraneous variables may also have confounded the results. For example,
researchers have found that workaholic tendencies and over-controlling behaviors
of partners are signicantly positively related to relationship disaffection
(Robinson, Carroll, & Flowers, 2001; Robinson, Flowers, & Kok-Mun, 2006). Also,
raised cortisol, catecholamines, and corticosteroids are linked with relationship
disaffection (Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 1997). It was beyond the scope of the present
study to measure workaholic tendencies or hormonal levels, which could be mea-
sured in future research. Finally, evidence supports a signicant link between
depressive symptoms and marital adjustment (Whisman, Uebelacker, Tolejko,
Chatav, & McKelvie, 2006). Depression is also an important indicator of negative
affectivity (Watson & Clark, 1984). In this study, we excluded individuals who
reported to have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Nevertheless, there may still
be some individuals who may have had depressive symptoms but were not clini-
cally diagnosed. Future studies can measure depressive symptoms of the partici-
pants and employ longitudinal research design to track if uctuations in negative
affect due to stressors and/or depressive tendency could potentially have an
enhanced impact on neuroticism related relationship disaffection. Despite these
limitations, our study is a step forward in relationship research and is particularly
useful for clinicians who can use the insights from this study to devise a custom-
ized treatment plan for individuals who are high in neuroticism.
Authors Contribution
The lead author has contributed at-least 65% in this manuscript.
Note
This research was presented at the Western Psychological Association (WPA) conference at
Portland, Oregon, USA.
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... Neuroticism is also negatively associated with global evaluations of marriage and positively associated with negative partner interactions (Donnellan, 2004). The connection between negative affect and neuroticism have been extensively examined (Abbasi, 2016;Abbasi et al., 2018;Claxton et al., 2011;Costa & McCrae, 1992;Wang et al., 2012;McCabe, 2006). Researchers have found that neuroticism is positively connected with marital disaffection (emotional indifference) and that negative affect partially mediates this relationship (Abbasi et al., 2018). ...
... The connection between negative affect and neuroticism have been extensively examined (Abbasi, 2016;Abbasi et al., 2018;Claxton et al., 2011;Costa & McCrae, 1992;Wang et al., 2012;McCabe, 2006). Researchers have found that neuroticism is positively connected with marital disaffection (emotional indifference) and that negative affect partially mediates this relationship (Abbasi et al., 2018). ...
... Although researcher have found that neuroticism was strongly associated with gender (Abbasi et al., 2018), we found no association between neuroticism and gender. In line with previous research (Watson et al., 2000), we found that gender and marital adjustment are not related. ...
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Marital adjustment is a crucial factor for the mental and physical health of individuals. In this study, we examined the influence of three factors on marital adjustment, that were, negative affect, neuroticism, and marital commitment. In a sample of 258 married partners (Female n = 138; Mage=35.98, SD = 10.83), we found that negative affect, neuroticism, and marital commitment cumulatively contributed 41% of variance in marital adjustment. Marital commitment contributed the most variance in marital adjustment (33%) versus negative affect and neuroticism combined (9%). The implication, limitations, and future directions are discussed.
... Moreover, we did not require our sample to report the number of children or the big five personality dimensions both of which may be pertinent reasons that could have influenced relationship satisfaction. Evidence suggests that personality is related to marital satisfaction (Abbasi, 2017) and marital disaffection (Abbasi, Rattan, Kousar, & Elsayed, 2018). Therefore, future studies can include questions that account for other underlying factors such as children, general health, financial constraints, and personality. ...
... It was due to a lack of prior psychological preparation, and they even had an excessive behavioral performance. The urban residents with high neuroticism were prone to emotional instability, self-centeredness, indifference, and Impulsivity (Irum et al., 2018). In the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, the infection raged through the city, which might create further disquiet. ...
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... (neuroticism), may contribute to disengagement (Abbasi et al., 2018;Barry et al., 2008;Kayser & Rao, 2006;Robinson et al., 2006). However, these studies were primarily conducted with young community-based samples where relationship satisfaction was relatively high (e.g., Barry & Lawrence, 2013) or they assessed lack of love retrospectively in already separated individuals (Kayser, 1993;Kayser & Rao, 2006;Sailor, 2013). ...
... These findings are important as they might guide interventions and research in a more effective way (i.e., reducing the number of target variables due to redundancies and selecting the most robust predictors of outcomes). There is evidence to suggest that neuroticism and negative affect share important variance [46], so the burden of assessment and treatment might be reduced by selecting one of the factors only for research and treatment practices (i.e., negative affect according to the present study findings). ...
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Individuals high in neuroticism experience negative affect and social anxiety, therefore, they may prefer online communications where they are able to portray an idealized image of themselves to attract social support, seek validation, and enhance mood. These motivations may lead to greater social media use and addiction. In this study of Facebook users (N = 742; 474 females, 268 males) who mostly resided in the United States, we explored the association between neuroticism, Facebook addiction, and negative affect. Our mediation model showed a partial mediating effect of Facebook addiction in predicting negative affect in individuals who were high in neuroticism. In theory, individuals who use Facebook as a tool to improve their mood may actually experience more negative affect due to social overload, jealousy, and envy. Individuals high in neuroticism, who already maintain a higher negative affect than those low in neuroticism, might be particularly inclined towards increased Facebook use, which could deteriorate their mood further. Consequently, individuals and therapists should be aware of the personality traits that could lead to greater Facebook addiction and a higher negative mood. Therapists could encourage users to engage in activities, other than social media use, that can improve mood without leading to addiction.
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Two partners tying a marital knot cannot possibly fathom the complexity of the relationship that lies ahead. Once married, the success or failure of marriage is determined by a myriad of factors. Each partner is a unique agglomeration of stable personal dispositions that influence marital relationships. During courtship, partners typically idealize their relationship and maintain a positive illusion about each other. The behaviors and traits that threaten the developing relationship are ignored. However, in the early marriage years, the process of marital disillusionment begins and the personal dispositions that were dismissed earlier become increasingly conspicuous and hard to ignore. Eventually, partners come to grips with reality and experience a decline in love. Acknowledging that personal dispositions are ingrained in the genetics and are reinforced by the early experiences and attachment bonds, this paper reviews the role of personal dispositions on marital outcomes and how negative outcomes can be curbed by therapeutic interventions. In this context, the acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT; an experiential acceptance-based behavior therapy) that targets experiential avoidance and increases psychological flexibility is discussed.
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