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Power Distribution and Relationship Quality in Long-Term Heterosexual Couples

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Abstract

Power imbalance in romantic couples is associated with lower relationship quality. Reasons underlying this phenomenon remain, however, unclear. In 192 Czech and Slovak long-term heterosexual couples, we measured relationship quality (Dyadic Adjustment Scale) and assessed its link with perceived relationship power, control, decision making, and personality dominance. Decreased relationship quality was found in power-imbalanced couples, and power distribution affected perceived relationship quality especially in men. In women, lower perceived relationship quality was associated with their partners' control and personality dominance. Results are discussed in the context of interdependence and approach/inhibition theories of power, and some culturally specific explanations are provided.

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... We conceptualized long-term romantic relationships as steady dating or marriage [45]. In accordance with past research (e.g., [46]), we set inclusion criteria for participants at relationship length of at least six months and cohabitation of at least three months and age 18 to 40 (i.e., early and middle adulthood). In the final sample, all participants were dating for at least a year, and cohabited for at least the past six months. ...
... First of all, partners agreed on power balance in their relationship only in slightly more than one half of all couples. This level of agreement is identical to one that our team obtained based on a larger sample and a similar single question answered in the form of a questionnaire item [46]. The level of agreement we found was, nonetheless, higher than that obtained using a similar scale by Harvey et al. ...
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We assessed the relative contribution of economic, personal, and affective power bases to perceived relationship power. Based on evolutionary studies, we predicted that personality dominance and mate value should represent alternative personal power bases. Our sample was comprised of 84 Czech heterosexual couples. We measured the economic power base using self-report scales assessing education, income and work status. Personal power bases were assessed using self-report measures of personality dominance (International Personality Item Pool Dominance and Assertiveness subscale from NEO Personality Inventory-Revised Extraversion scale), and partner-report measures of mate value (Trait-Specific Dependence Inventory, factors 2–6). The first factor of Trait-Specific Dependence Inventory, which measures agreeableness/commitment was used to assess the affective power base. Our results show that perceived relationship power is associated with a perception of partner’s high agreeableness/commitment. Moreover, women’s personality dominance and mate value are also linked with perceived relationship power, which supports our evolutionary prediction of dominance and mate value working as power bases for women. The stronger effect of women’s than men’s power bases may be due to gender differences in investment into relationships and/or due to transition to more equal relationships currently sought by women in the Czech Republic.
... Additionally, studies also show that spousal balance in decision making power and time use improves marital quality, resulting in higher marital satisfaction and durability (Forste & Fox, 2012;Lindová et al., 2020). ...
... Women in Bangladesh may prefer to have peace in the household rather than conflict over the balance of power (Ahmed, 2014). This is contrary to the findings of Lindová et al. (2020) that an imbalance in spousal decision making power lowers marital satisfaction and invokes marital discord. In fact, paradoxically, women's life satisfaction may decline as their rights and opportunities rise (Stevenson & Wolfers, 2009). ...
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Astudy of 909 families (731 urban and 178 rural) relative to sociological and psychological factors in marriage. Wives, but not husbands, were given a "structured and controlled interview of more than one hour each." Aspects studied include: power and authority, sex roles and division of labor, economic functions, children and family planning, companionship, emotional well-being, love, and strength and stresses. (42 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Examined a measure of marital power based on the clinical description of the "dominance through talking" and the "dominance through listening" patterns (N. S. Jacobson and A. Holtzworth-Munroe, 1986) and defined in terms of asymmetry in the relative frequencies of verbal communication content patterns. Ss included 23 happily married couples and 31 distressed couples seeking marital therapy. Marital power was assessed from transcripts made from the couples engaged in discussing the events of their day. The Dyadic Adjustment Scale was used to measure marital satisfaction. Results indicate an inverse relationship between marital satisfaction and power inequality. Power inequality prior to therapy predicted positive treatment outcome at posttest and at 6-mo follow-up for couples receiving a regimen of social-learning-based marital therapy. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Attempts to clarify conceptualizations in the general area of marital power. The concept of power is differentiated from control attempt, control, resources, and authority. A theory is developed which specifies the relationships among these 5 variables. It is assumed that (a) power and control are social interaction constructs rather than attributes of individual persons; (b) power and control are relevant constructs only when a conflict exists between the goals of marriage partners; and (c) authority, resources, and power do not exist independently of perceptions. The theory clarifies a number of conceptual ambiguities and appears to be useful for integrating empirical research in this area. (40 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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1948 and 1989 were turning points in Czech society. In forty years under communism, men and women were equalized by the regime's totalitarianism and egalitarianism. I argue that these forces, as well as concomitant changes in the public and private spheres, dictate that women's situation should not be interpreted in terms of patriarchy. Women's issues and the problem of patriarchy, which under communism seemed irrelevant in Czech society, may now come to the fore because the postcommunist period requires women to undertake an essential rethinking of their identity.
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This paper develops a theory of sex-role stereotyping and power use in terms of how people interact in daily life situations. Power use is proposed to be affected by sex-role stereotypes on three major dimensions: direct-indirect, concrete-personal, and competent-helpless. It is demonstrated that women have less access, in reality and in expectations, to concrete resources and competence, leaving them with indirect, personal, and helpless modes of influence. Power use is examined in terms of sex-role stereotypes, and data are presented which support the hypothesis that people expect males and females to use different bases of power.
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The relationship between power and self-disclosure was studied for 20 dating and 20 married couples. Power and self-disclosure scales (of feelings and of accomplishments) were constructed and administered individually. We hypothesized that: (1) Women disclose more about feelings than men. (2) Men disclose more about accomplishments than women. (3) Power is positively correlated with disclosure of accomplishments. (4) Power is negatively correlated with disclosure of feelings and weaknesses. (5) Dating men are more powerful than dating women, but there are no gender differences in power in marriage. Hypotheses 1,3, and 5 were supported. Hypotheses 2 and 4 were rejected. Our findings revealed that there were no differences in power or disclosure of accomplishments between men and women for the total group. However, a significant interaction was found between gender and marital status for power. Dating men had more power than dating women, but married women had more power than married men. Last, women disclosed more feelings than men across both groups.
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This article introduces a theoretically based and validated measure of relationship power dynamics: the Sexual Relationship Power Scale (SRPS). Focus groups were conducted to generate items for Spanish- and English-language scales. The SRPS was administered to a census of women (N = 388) at a community health clinic. All respondents had a primary male partner; they were mostly Latina (89%), with mean age 27 years. The 23-item SRPS possesses good internal reliability (coefficient alpha = .84 for English version, .88 for Spanish version) and predictive and construct validity. Factor analyses support two subscales: Relationship Control and Decision-Making Dominance. As hypothesized, the SRPS was inversely associated with physical violence and directly associated with education and consistent condom use (p
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In this investigation, the balance of power between men and women in romantic relationships was examined with a sample of 101 heterosexual couples, some of whom were surveyed up to jive times over a four-year period. A majority of the participants (who were primarily Caucasian and middle class) reported some imbalance in power in their relationship (53% of the men and 52% of the women on a global measure of power; 67% of the men and 65% of the women on a measure of decision making). The longitudinal data indicated that perceptions of power were quite stable over time. When power imbalances in relationships occurred, the male partner was more likely than the female to be seen as the power holder, although these differences were statistically significant only for men (full sample). In support of W. Waller's principle of least interest [(1937) The Family: A Dynamic Interpretation, New York: Gordon], being the less emotionally involved partner in the relationship was associated with greater power. We further found that men were more likely than women to perceive themselves as the less emotionally invested partner. Perceptions of power balance were generally unrelated to either relationship satisfaction or to the likelihood that the couple broke up over time. In one exception, men who perceived their relationship to be equal in power (but not decision making) reported the highest level of satisfaction. We conclude that the balance of power still often favors men in these romantic couples (especially in decision making), although couples do not always agree on their perceptions, with male partners tending to see more male dominance than females.
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Similar criteria may operate in mate choice and in mate retention. For example, United States couples tend to be similar, and the more similar they are, the happier and more stable their relationships are. Another widespread criterion is male dominance, which females in several primate species seem to find desirable in a mate. Defined in various ways, dominance seems to characterize men that women find desirable. Also, cross-cultural evidence suggests that attractiveness, particularly in women, enhances mate value. A survey of over 1000 British couples was undertaken to test the homogamy (similarity), male dominance, and female attractiveness hypotheses in that society. In 19 of 42 tests, homogamous couples tended to be significantly (p < 0.01) more satisfied. Couples, especially wives, were more satisfied if the husband dominated decision making, but excessive husband dominance reduced satisfaction. Husbands were more satisfied if the wife was moderately more attractive than they were. Unlike some previous U.S. studies, this one revealed no relationship between marital satisfaction and the husband's earning more than the wife, being better educated, or having wealthier parents. In addition to the homogamy hypothesis, the notion that dominant men gain attractive wives received qualified support. Economic factors may be less fundamental to marital satisfaction than these other variables.
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Gender inequity is a risk factor for intimate partner violence (IPV), although there is little research on this relationship that focuses on youth or males. Using survey data collected from 240 male and 198 female youth aged 15-24 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we explore the association between individual-level support for gender equity and IPV experiences in the past 6 months and describe responses to and motivations for IPV. Factor analysis was used to construct gender equity scales for males and females. Logistic and multinomial logistic regression models were used to examine the relationship between gender equity and IPV. About half of female youth reported some form of recent IPV, including any victimization (32%), any perpetration (40%), and both victimization and perpetration (22%). A total of 18% of male youth reported recently perpetrating IPV. In logistic regression models, support for gender equity had a protective effect against any female IPV victimization and any male IPV perpetration and was not associated with female IPV perpetration. Female victims reported leaving the abusive partner, but later returning to him as the most frequent response to IPV. Male perpetrators said the most common response of their victims was to retaliate with violence. Jealousy was the most frequently reported motivation of females perpetrating IPV. Gender equity is an important predictor of IPV among youth. Examining the gendered context of IPV will be useful in the development of targeted interventions to promote gender equity and healthy relationships and to help reduce IPV among youth.
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Dominance is a key feature on which romantic partners are evaluated, yet there is no clear consensus on its definition. In Study 1 (N=305), the authors developed scales to measure three putatively distinct dimensions of dominance: social, financial, and physical. In Study 2 (N=308), the authors used their scales in a mate-selection paradigm and found that women perceived physical dominance to be related to both attractiveness and social dominance. For both sexes, attractiveness predicted desirability for a one-night stand, whereas attractiveness and agreeableness were predictors of desirability for a serious relationship. In Study 3 (N=124), the authors surveyed romantic partners in monogamous relationships and found that although aspects of a partner's dominance-financial for women and social for men-played a bivariate role in relationship satisfaction, agreeableness was the strongest predictor of current and future relationship satisfaction and the only significant predictor of relationship dissolution.
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Data on a nationally representative sample of 2,143 couples are used to study the relationship to marital violence of the power structure of marriage, power norm consensus, and the level of marital conflict. The couples were classified as equalitarian, male-dominant, female-dominant, or divided power. Equalitarian couples had the lowest rates of conflict and violence and male-dominant and female-dominant couples had the highest rates. Although consensus about the legitimacy of a male-dominant and female-dominant power structure reduced conflict and violence in such families, when conflict did occur in such families, it was associated with a much higher risk of violence than a similar level of conflict in equalitarian families. Since equality in marriage is associated with low rates of intrafamily conflict and violence, laws, administrative decisions, and services that empower women and encourage men to value an equal partner are likely to be important steps to reducing violence and strengthen the family.
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In men, high levels of endogenous testosterone (T) seem to encourage behavior intended to dominate--to enhance one's status over--other people. Sometimes dominant behavior is aggressive, its apparent intent being to inflict harm on another person, but often dominance is expressed nonaggressively. Sometimes dominant behavior takes the form of antisocial behavior, including rebellion against authority and low breaking. Measurement of T at a single point in time, presumably indicative of a man's basal T level, predicts many of these dominant or antisocial behaviors. T not only affects behavior but also responds to it. The act of competing for dominant status affects male T levels in two ways. First, T rises in the face of a challenge, as if it were an anticipatory response to impending competition. Second, after the competition, T rises in winners and declines in losers. Thus, there is a reciprocity between T and dominance behavior, each affecting the other. We contrast a reciprocal model, in which T level is variable, acting as both a cause and effect of behavior, with a basal model, in which T level is assumed to be a persistent trait that influences behavior. An unusual data set on Air Force veterans, in which data were collected four times over a decade, enables us to compare the basal and reciprocal models as explanations for the relationship between T and divorce. We discuss sociological implications of these models.
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This article examines how power influences behavior. Elevated power is associated with increased rewards and freedom and thereby activates approach-related tendencies. Reduced power is associated with increased threat, punishment, and social constraint and thereby activates inhibition-related tendencies. The authors derive predictions from recent theorizing about approach and inhibition and review relevant evidence. Specifically, power is associated with (a) positive affect, (b) attention to rewards, (c) automatic information processing, and (d) disinhibited behavior. In contrast, reduced power is associated with (a) negative affect; (b) attention to threat, punishment, others' interests, and those features of the self that are relevant to others' goals; (c) controlled information processing; and (d) inhibited social behavior. The potential moderators and consequences of these power-related behavioral patterns are discussed.
Article
The present study examined the association among marital satisfaction, marital power, and sexual desire in a sample of 60 community couples. We predicted that marital satisfaction would be positively correlated with sexual desire and that this association would be moderated by marital power, such that marital satisfaction would be more strongly correlated with sexual desire among individuals who perceive themselves as having less power in their relationship. Results indicated that marital satisfaction was significantly associated with sexual desire, but there was no evidence for the moderating effects of various forms of marital power.
Handbook for the sixteen personality factors questionnaire (16 PF) in clinical, educational, industrial, and research psychology, for use with all forms of the test
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Are women in Central and Eastern Europe conservative
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Patriarch at na socialistick y způsob: k genderov emu r adu st atn ıho socialismu. (Patriarchy in a socialistic style: On the gender norm of state socialism)
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Stark, E. (2007). Coercive control: How men entrap women in personal life. Oxford, UK: University Press. Vodochodsk y, I. (2007). Patriarch at na socialistick y způsob: k genderov emu r adu st atn ıho socialismu. (Patriarchy in a socialistic style: On the gender norm of state socialism). Gender, rovn e p r ıle zitosti, v yzkum (Gender, Equal Opportunities, Research), 2(8), 34-42.
Emancipace a vlastnictv ı: P r ısp evek do diskuse o chyb ej ıc ıch p redpokladech pro vznik feminismu v p redlistopadov em Ceskoslovensku (Emancipation and ownership: On the discussion of the lack conditions for the rise of feminism in pre-November Czechoslovakia). Sociologick y Casopis
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Wagnerov a, A. (1995). Emancipace a vlastnictv ı: P r ısp evek do diskuse o chyb ej ıc ıch p redpokladech pro vznik feminismu v p redlistopadov em Ceskoslovensku (Emancipation and ownership: On the discussion of the lack conditions for the rise of feminism in pre-November Czechoslovakia). Sociologick y Casopis (Czech Sociological Review), 31, 77-84.