Article

Consistency between individuals' past and current romantic partners' own reports of their personalities

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Abstract

Do people have a "type" when it comes to their romantic partners' personalities? In the present research, we used data from a 9-y longitudinal study in Germany and examined the similarity between an individual's ex- and current partners using the partners' self-reported personality profiles. Based on the social accuracy model, our analyses distinguished similarity between partners that was attributable to similarity to an average person (normative similarity) and resemblance to the target participant himself/herself (self-partner similarity) to more precisely examine similarity from partner to partner (distinctive similarity). The results revealed a significant degree of distinctive partner similarity, suggesting that there may indeed be a unique type of person each individual ends up with. We also found that distinctive partner similarity was weaker for people high in extraversion or openness to experience, suggesting that these individuals may be less likely to be in a relationship with someone similar to their ex-partner (although the individual difference effects were not mirrored in an alternative analytic approach). These findings provide evidence for stability in distinctive partner personality and have important implications for predicting future partnering behaviors and actions in romantic relationships.

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... Empirical support for the existence of a fixed personality type is offered by Park and MacDonald (2019), who examined personality profile similarity among current and expartners in a German sample. Their study is the only one of its kind, involving self-reported personality measurements of both the new and ex-partner. ...
... Furthermore, one can call into question the assumption of the fixed-type hypothesis and learning hypothesis, namely that partner choice is unconstrained in such a manner that one can easily find a new partner who resembles one's ex-spouse or is more marriage-stabilizing than one's ex-spouse. That freedom of partner choice and lack of restrictions might seem plausible in the first marriage market (FMM), but in contrast to the study of Park and MacDonald (2019), which overwhelmingly examined premarital relationships, the current study compares predivorce to post-divorce partners. We defined post-divorce partners broadly to also encompass nonmarital relationships that are formed after divorce. ...
... To succeed in this aim, we looked to answer the following research question: 'How do the Big Five personality traits of an ex-spouse compare to those of the new partner?' The results show that the level of partner similarity (i.e., Hypothesis 1a) found in previous research on profile similarity between consecutive romantic partners cannot be extrapolated to trait similarities between an ex-spouse and new partner (Park and MacDonald 2019). As a consequence, the notion of continued homogamy, where consecutive partners share such a large degree of similarity with their shared partner, that these partners resemble each other, seems equally unlikely. ...
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The similarity of the Big Five personality traits of ex-spouses and new partners was examined post-divorce. The notion that divorcees replicate their partner choice (fixed-type hypothesis) was tested against the hypotheses that they learn to select a new partner with more marriage-stabilizing personality traits than their former spouse (learning hypothesis), or are constrained by marriage market forces to repartner with someone who has less stabilizing personality traits (marriage market hypothesis). Data was derived from a Flemish study that sampled divorcees from the national register. The sample consisted of 700 triads of divorcees, their ex-spouses, and their new partners. The analysis results rejected the fixed-type hypothesis and instead supported both the learning hypothesis and the marriage market hypothesis, with higher order repartnering supporting the latter. Women also seemed to validate both hypotheses, as their partner comparison showed decreases in both stabilizing traits (conscientiousness and agreeableness) and destabilizing traits (neuroticism and extraversion). Overall, the results seem to suggest that divorcees do not repartner with someone of the same personality as their ex-spouse, and they are in some cases constrained by marriage market forces to repartner with less stabilizing personalities, while in other cases they are able to improve their partner selection.
... From an evolutionary point of view, several authors theorized that adaptation has created systematic patterns in the human mating based on the trust and stability, which confers several biological advantages (Buss 1985Buss andSchmitt 1993;Thiessen and Gregg 1980). The popular culture calls this mate preference as "type" when it comes to their partners' personalities (Park and MacDonald 2019), whereas psychological science have tried to statistically define it in terms of "similarity" (Caspi and Herbener 1990;Watson et al. 2004;Luo and Klohnen, 2005). The idea was to understand and demonstrate why people end up with particular partners who are similar to them in terms of personality and which kind of similarity characterized this relationship. ...
... The role of personality in mating behavior has recently been revived by Park and MacDonald (2019), who shed new light by performing a 9-years longitudinal study examining the similarity between an individual's ex-and current romantic partner's personality. They identified a pattern of consistency across partner personalities where there is a tendency of dating with a particular type of person with possible individual differences. ...
... We extend recent evidence (Park and MacDonald 2019) demonstrating that prediction of mate selection behaviors may not be achievable through mathematical models using measures collected either before the couple meets or during the onset of marriage. However, recent data provided by Park and MacDonald (2019), together with our findings on the multidimensional construct (high level of neuroticism related to lower extraversion and openness) of couples' profile could suggest that the century-old adage "opposites attract" needs a new mathematical reviewing aimed at better figuring out the complexity of human mate behavior. ...
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The idea that individuals tend to choose a romantic partner following similarities on personality traits has always attracted much attention in the psychological literature, although results were controversial. We conducted a new data analysis approach to personality traits of 235 newlywed couples. Univariate analysis revealed that a neurotic husband is usually paired with a lesser extrovert and open wife. To figure out if this mating selection pattern may be translated in a mathematical predictive model a twofold approach was employed by using Partial Least Squares regression and machine learning algorithm. The experimental results demonstrate that marital assortment for personality is a multi-trait complementarity process but these data are unable to predict human mating.
... Finally, this study focused on participants who remained in the same romantic relationship over time. Research on cross-partnership development suggests that people are fairly stable in individual (e.g., self-esteem) and relational (e.g., couple interaction) attributes across relationships (Johnson et al., 2017;Johnson et al., 2020;Park & MacDonald, 2019;Robins et al., 2002), but less is known about the stability of relationship-specific traits across different relationships. Therefore, it would be worthwhile for future research to test whether relationship-specific traits are tied to the context of a romantic relationship or to the current romantic partner. ...
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To acknowledge the significance of contexts for personality, this study focused on personality in romantic relationships and the concept of relationship-specific traits. Specifically, we were interested in how relationship-specific traits (i.e., how people report to be in their relationship) relate to generalized Big Five traits, and whether both constructs codevelop over time. We computed dyadic bivariate latent growth curve models, using data from 551 couples (Mage = 32.23 years) over 1 year. The findings indicated that generalized traits and relationship-specific traits were positively correlated in their intercepts but did not codevelop over time. Furthermore, baseline relationship satisfaction explained variance in traits, particularly in relationship-specific traits. These findings have implications for how to study personality development in the romantic relationship context.
... Asendorpf, Penke, & Back, 2011;Brown & Sinclair, 1999;Kinsey, Pomeroy, & Martin, 2003;Penke & Asendorpf, 2008;Turner et al., 1998), or the choice of long-term partners (e.g. Campbell, Chin, & Stanton, 2016;Eastwick, Harden, Shukusky, Morgan, & Joel, 2017;Gerlach, Arslan, Schultze, Reinhard, & Penke, 2019;Park & MacDonald, 2019). ...
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Event history calendars (EHCs) are popular tools for retrospective data collection. Originally conceptualized as face-to-face interviews, EHCs contain various questions about the respondents’ autobiography in order to use their experiences as cues to facilitate remembering. For relationship researchers, EHCs are particularly valuable when trying to reconstruct the relational past of individuals. However, while many studies are conducted online nowadays, no freely available online adaptation of the EHC is available yet. In this tutorial, we provide detailed instructions on how to implement an online EHC for the reconstruction of romantic relationship histories within the open source framework formr. We showcase on ways to customize the online EHC and provide a template for researchers to adapt the tool for their own purposes.
... Asendorpf, Penke, & Back, 2011;Brown & Sinclair, 1999;Kinsey, Pomeroy, & Martin, 2003;Penke & Asendorpf, 2008;Turner et al., 1998), or the choice of long-term partners (e.g. Campbell, Chin, & Stanton, 2016;Eastwick, Harden, Shukusky, Morgan, & Joel, 2017;Gerlach, Arslan, Schultze, Reinhard, & Penke, 2019;Park & MacDonald, 2019). ...
Preprint
Event history calendars (EHCs) are popular tools for retrospective data collection. Originally conceptualized as face-to-face interviews, EHCs contain various questions about the respondents’ autobiography in order to use their experiences as cues to facilitate remembering. For relationship researchers, EHCs are particularly valuable when trying to reconstruct the relational past of individuals. However, while many studies are conducted online nowadays, no online adaptation of the EHC is available yet. In this tutorial, we provide detailed instructions on how to implement an online EHC for the reconstruction of romantic relationship histories within the open source framework formr. We showcase on ways to customize the online EHC and provide a template for researchers to adapt the tool for their own purposes. Preprint on PsyArXiv: https://psyarxiv.com/h8cs9/
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Theoretical perspectives on mating differentially emphasize whether (and why) romantic partner selection and maintenance processes derive from stable features of individuals (e.g., mate value, mate preferences, relationship aptitude) and their environments (e.g., social homogamy) rather than adventitious, dyad-specific, or unpredictable factors. The current article advances our understanding of this issue by assessing how people’s actual romantic partners vary on constructs commonly assessed in evolutionary psychology (Study 1), sociology (Study 2), and close relationships (Study 3). Specifically, we calculated the extent to which the past and present partners of a focal person (i.e., the person who dated all of the partners) cluster on various measures. Study 1 investigated consistency in the observable qualities of the romantic partners, revealing substantial evidence for clustering on coder-rated attributes like attractiveness and masculinity. Study 2 examined qualities self-reported by romantic partners themselves in a demographically diverse sample and found modest evidence for clustering on attributes such as IQ and educational aspirations; however, clustering in this study was largely due to demographic stratification. Study 3 explored target-specific ratings by partners about the focal person and found little evidence for clustering: The ability to elicit high romantic desirability/sexual satisfaction ratings from partners was not a stable individual difference. The variables that affect mating may differ considerably in the extent to which they serve as stable versus unpredictable factors; thus, the fields of evolutionary psychology, sociology, and close relationships may reveal distinct depictions of mating because the constructs and assessment strategies in each differ along this underappreciated dimension.
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Personality is known to be a key predictor for several aspects of close relationship functioning. Most likely, the influence of this psychological factor is even growing in contemporary societies, where the individual life biography is increasingly the result of personal preferences and less influenced by normative expectations and cultural institutions. In an era of high relationship instability, more and more people engage in a second union. Although it becomes increasingly relevant to study the effects of personality on close relationship functioning in higher order unions, this remained understudied until now. This study examines the impact of personality on partnership trajectories following divorce. First, we construct a typology of eight partnership trajectories, capturing the occurrence, order, and timing of different partnership events (e.g., repartnering, cohabiting, getting married) in the first 7 years after separation. Then, we use multinomial logistic regression to examine the association between personality and the post-separation partnership trajectories, thereby controlling for sociodemographic variables. The analyses are based on data from a large-scale representative survey, the Divorce in Flanders Survey. Results show that personality and sociodemographic factors are both important determinants for explaining post-separation partnership trajectories. Extraversion tends to increase the likelihood and speed of repartnering. Neuroticism lowers the stability in partnerships. Conscientiousness is related with a higher likelihood to remarry. A higher age at separation and the presence of children at home decrease the likelihood to repartner, while education increases this. The present study delivers an important contribution for unraveling part of the complex association between personality and partner relationship dynamics.
Article
People use metaperceptions, or their beliefs about how other people perceive them, to initiate and maintain social bonds. Are accurate metaperceptions associated with higher quality relationships? In four studies, the current research answers this question but considers the possibility that the self might not experience the same relational benefits of accurate metaperceptions, or meta-accuracy, as the people who form judgments about the self. For example, people tend to like individuals who have accurate self-perceptions, yet individuals tend to enjoy their own relationships more with people they believe see them in desirable ways. To test whether meta-accuracy is linked to relationship quality and whether this link differs for the self and others, meta-accuracy for personality traits as well as metaperceiver- and judge-reported relationship quality were assessed among new acquaintances (N = 184), peers (N = 228), friends (N = 273), and romantic partners (N = 401). Results suggested that judges enjoyed relationships more with metaperceivers who knew the impression they made, regardless of whether judges' impressions were desirable (i.e., positive or self-verifying). Initial meta-accuracy also predicted greater relationship quality over time, suggesting that accurate metaperceptions have positive effects on relationships. In contrast, rather than enjoying relationships more when they were accurate, metaperceivers enjoyed relationships more when they believed judges perceived them in positive or self-verifying ways. Thus, meta-accuracy seems to be a virtue in the eyes of judges, but metaperceivers do not seem to reap the same benefits of knowing what others really think. Implications for improving meta-accuracy are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record
Article
Perceived partner responsiveness refers to the belief that partners care for one's needs and have positive regard for the self. The authors present a model of motivated distortion of partner responsiveness and review research relevant to this model. The model proposes that perceivers who are strongly motivated to bond with particular partners tend to see those partners as responsive, and this occurs independently of partners’ actual responsiveness. Specific cognitive processes, such as biased interpretation and memory, assist motivated perceivers in reaching the desired conclusion that partners are responsive. In turn, biased perceptions of responsiveness may bolster individual and relationship well-being. Several studies support this model.
Article
Research on similarity constructs (e.g., dyadic similarity, personality stability, judgment agreement and accuracy) frequently find them to be associated with positive outcomes. However, a methodological pitfall associated with common "overall similarity" indices, which we term the normative-desirability confound (NDC), will regularly result in similarity constructs apparently having more positive effects than they do in reality. In essence, when an individual is estimated to be similar to another person by common indices, this will strongly indicate that the individual has desirable characteristics. Consequently, the correlates of overall similarity indices can often be interpreted as indicating the beneficial effects of having desirable characteristics, without needing to attribute any additional salutary effect to similarity. We show that this confound is present in overall similarity estimates for a wide range of constructs (e.g., personality traits, attitudes, emotions, behaviors, values), how it can be accounted for, and discuss larger implications for our understanding of similarity constructs. © 2015 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.
Article
Not much is known about how social network characteristics change in the transition out of school and what role Big Five personality plays in this context. The aim of this paper was twofold. First, we explored changes in social network and relationship characteristics across the transition out of secondary school. Second, we examined within-person and between-person effects of personality on these social network changes. Results based on a series of multilevel models to a longitudinal sample of 2287 young adults revealed four main findings. First, social networks increased in size, and this increase was mainly due to a larger number of nonkin. Stable social networks during the transition consisted mainly of family ties but were generally characterized by high closeness. Second, extraversion and openness consistently predicted network size, whereas agreeableness predicted network overlap. Third, increases in emotional closeness were found only for kin; closeness was generally lower for unstable relationships. Fourth, changes in emotional closeness were related to personality, particularly neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness for stable relationships; for unstable relationships, however, closeness was related to extraversion and openness. The article concludes by discussing the role of personality for social relationship development and the active moulding of social networks in young adulthood. Copyright © 2014 European Association of Personality Psychology
Article
Human mate choice is complicated, with various individual differences and contextual factors influencing preferences for numerous traits. However, focused studies on human mate choice often do not capture the multivariate complexity of human mate choice. Here, we consider multiple factors simultaneously to demonstrate the advantages of a multivariate approach to human mate preferences. Participants (N=689) rated the attractiveness of opposite-sex online dating profiles that were independently manipulated on facial attractiveness, perceived facial masculinity/femininity, and intelligence. Participants were also randomly instructed to either consider short- or long-term relationships. Using fitness surfaces analyses, we assess the linear and non-linear effects and interactions of the profiles’ facial attractiveness, perceived facial masculinity/femininity, and perceived intelligence on participants’ attractiveness ratings. Using Hierarchical Linear Modeling, we were also able to consider the independent contribution of participants’ individual differences on their revealed preferences for the manipulated traits. These individual differences included participants’ age, socioeconomic status, education, disgust (moral, sexual, and pathogen), sociosexual orientation, personality variables, masculinity, and mate value. Together, our results illuminate various previously undetectable phenomena, including nonlinear preference functions and interactions with individual differences. More broadly, the study illustrates the value of considering both individual variation and population-level measures when addressing questions of sexual selection, and demonstrates the utility of multivariate approaches to complement focused studies.
Article
This internet-based study provided descriptive information and exploratory analyses on 1,795 male and 139 female members of the Adult Baby/Diaper Lover (ABDL) community. Based on prior research, some research questions focused on the degree to which ABDL behavior was associated with negative mood states, parental relationships, and attachment style. Based on clinical experience, a second research question focused on discerning two possible subgroups within the ABDL community: persons focused on role play behavior and persons who were primarily interested in sexual arousal in their ABDL behavior. The results showed modest support for the former research questions, but notable support for the last research question. Because of some overlap between the two hypothesized subgroups, additional subgroups may exist. Males in the ABDL community identified their ABDL interests earlier than females and these males may be more focused on sexual aspects of ABDL practices. Both males and females perceived being dominated as important in their ABDL behavior. Most participants were comfortable with their ABDL behavior and reported few problems. ABDL behavior may represent a sexual subculture that is not problematic for most of its participants.
Article
Literature and research has focused little on the spousal subsystem in remarriages. Through the application of Bowen family systems theory, this paper examines the complexities within the spousal subsystem in remarriages. Many remarried couples are plagued with anxiety that stems from unresolved issues in their previous marriage. By acknowledging the influence of their previous marriage, couples are able to work through this anxiety and are able to raise their levels of differentiation, maintain an “I position,” and become less emotionally reactive.
Article
This study compared marital and psychological distress in remarried persons entering a university-related clinic for marital (MT) or family therapy (FT). Complete data from the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS), FACES-III, and number of children in the home were available for 82 remarried women (41 FT) and 62 remarried men (21 FT). A MANOVA indicated that MT clients had higher levels of marital and psychological distress than those seeking FT. Gender differences were limited to a single BSI scale. MANOVA results were unchanged when only those MT and FT clients with children were compared. Within MT clients, there was no effect of the presence of children in the home.
Article
This study investigated the prevalence and correlates of personal growth and distress following romantic relationship breakups. Causal attributions for why the relationship declined and ended, personality factors, gender, and initiator status were examined as correlates of growth and distress in 92 undergraduates who had experienced a recent romantic relationship breakup. In regard to the prevalence of growth, respondents reported, on average, five types of personal growth they thought might improve their future romantic relationships. Correlates of self–reported growth included causal attributions to environmental factors and the personality factor of Agreeableness. Women reported more growth than did men. Factors related to higher levels of distress included causal attributions to the ex–partner and to environmental factors surrounding the previous relationship. The importance of assessing growth following relationship breakups and of accounting for the environmental context of close relationships is discussed.
Article
We analyze data from 927 remarried men and women to examine the association between spouses' educational attainment, social class, and age in their first and current union. Applying marginal homogeneity models, we test two competing hypotheses: current unions of remarried people are more homogamous than their first unions (the learning-hypothesis) and remarried people's current unions are less homogamous than their first unions (the marriage market hypothesis). With respect to education, the evidence supports the learning-hypothesis for remarried men, but not for remarried women. With respect to social class, the evidence supports neither the learning-hypothesis nor the marriage market hypothesis. Finally, with respect to age, we find, for both men and women, support for the marriage market hypothesis. We conclude that the remarriage market may have become more beneficial to remarrying men to find a more educationally homogamous partner than their first partner. Moreover, greater age heterogeneity of available spouses in the remarriage market appears to be an important determinant of weaker age homogamy in remarriage.
Article
Using grounded theory methodology 16 participants, each in a second marriage as a result of divorce, were interviewed individually and with their partner. Participants were asked to describe how their first marriages were currently affecting their second. Trust was the central category that emerged. From this central category 3 additional categories surfaced: lack of trust in the previous relationship, attempts to increase trust while dating, and presence of trust in the current relationship. Participant feedback, internal and external auditors, and the existing literature were all used to validate the results. A tentative theory, complete with provisional hypotheses, was developed that could help clinicians address some of the challenges described by couples who remarry. Aprender del pasado para cambiar el futuro: Una teoría tentativa que analiza los efectos de las relaciones anteriores en las parejas que se vuelven a casar Aplicando el método de muestreo teórico, se entrevistó individualmente y con sus parejas a 16 participantes que se casaron por segunda vez después de haberse divorciado. Se les pidió a los participantes que describieran cómo sus primeros matrimonios estaban afectando actualmente su segundo matrimonio. Surgió la confianza como categoría principal. A partir de esta categoría principal, aparecieron tres categorías adicionales: falta de confianza en la relación anterior, intentos de aumentar la confianza al salir con otra persona y presencia de confianza en la relación actual. Para validar los resultados, se utilizó información proporcionada por los participantes, auditores internos y externos y estudios existentes. Se elaboró una teoría tentativa, llena de hipótesis temporales, que podría ayudar a los médicos clínicos a abordar algunos de los problemas descritos por las personas que se vuelven a casar. Palabras clave: volverse a casar, confianza, relaciones de pareja, muestreo teórico, divorcio
Article
This review focuses on the pathway leading from the marital relationship to physical health. Evidence from 64 articles published in the past decade, particularly marital interaction studies, suggests that marital functioning is consequential for health; negative dimensions of marital functioning have indirect influences on health outcomes through depression and health habits, and direct influences on cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, neurosensory, and other physiological mechanisms. Moreover, individual difference variables such as trait hostility augment the impact of marital processes on biological systems. Emerging themes in the past decade include the importance of differentiating positive and negative dimensions of marital functioning, the explanatory power of behavioral data, and gender differences in the pathways from the marital relationship to physiological functioning. Contemporary models of gender that emphasize self-processes, traits, and roles furnish alternative perspectives on the differential costs and benefits of marriage for men's and women's health.
Article
How 2 personalities may be best combined in a couple has often been answered in terms of similarity in partner's personality characteristics. However, results have been inconsistent. The present study proposed that relationship outcomes should depend more on the similarity between individuals' ideal mate personality concepts (IMPCs) and their partner's personality as both perceived by the self and self-reported by the partner. Study 1 introduces a new Q-sort to assess IMPCs and provides evidence for the interindividual variability and the short-term consistency of IMPC. By following nonmarried couples over a 9-month period, Study 2 replicated findings from Study 1 and demonstrated that, overall, the current concept of congruence predicts relationship outcomes better than both personality similarity and the partner's individual personality traits.
Article
Interpretation of regression coefficients is sensitive to the scale of the inputs. One method often used to place input variables on a common scale is to divide each numeric variable by its standard deviation. Here we propose dividing each numeric variable by two times its standard deviation, so that the generic comparison is with inputs equal to the mean +/-1 standard deviation. The resulting coefficients are then directly comparable for untransformed binary predictors. We have implemented the procedure as a function in R. We illustrate the method with two simple analyses that are typical of applied modeling: a linear regression of data from the National Election Study and a multilevel logistic regression of data on the prevalence of rodents in New York City apartments. We recommend our rescaling as a default option--an improvement upon the usual approach of including variables in whatever way they are coded in the data file--so that the magnitudes of coefficients can be directly compared as a matter of routine statistical practice.
Article
Corruption in the public sector erodes tax compliance and leads to higher tax evasion. Moreover, corrupt public officials abuse their public power to extort bribes from the private agents. In both types of interaction with the public sector, the private agents are bound to face uncertainty with respect to their disposable incomes. To analyse effects of this uncertainty, a stochastic dynamic growth model with the public sector is examined. It is shown that deterministic excessive red tape and corruption deteriorate the growth potential through income redistribution and public sector inefficiencies. Most importantly, it is demonstrated that the increase in corruption via higher uncertainty exerts adverse effects on capital accumulation, thus leading to lower growth rates.
lme4: Linear Mixed-Effects Models Using S4 Classes, R package Version 1.1-21
  • D Bates
  • M Maechler
  • B Bolker
  • S Walker
D. Bates, M. Maechler, B. Bolker, S. Walker, lme4: Linear Mixed-Effects Models Using S4 Classes, R package Version 1.1-21, 2014. https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/ lme4/lme4.pdf. Accessed 24 May 2019.
Multicon: An R Package for the Analysis of Multivariate Contructs, R package Version 1.6
  • R A Sherman
R. A. Sherman, Multicon: An R Package for the Analysis of Multivariate Contructs, R package Version 1.6, 2015. https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/multicon/multicon.pdf. Accessed 24 May 2019.
After the breakup: Interpreting divorce and rethinking intimacy
  • Schneller
D. P. Schneller, J. A. Arditti, After the breakup: Interpreting divorce and rethinking intimacy. J. Divorce Remarriage 42, 1-37 (2004).