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Title:Standards, assumptions, and perceptions regarding division of labor: Implications for marital satisfaction and socio-political change
Author(s):Horneffer, Karen Jean
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fincham, Frank D.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Behavioral
Psychology, Social
Women's Studies
Sociology, Individual and Family Studies
Abstract:Recent social and political trends have resulted in cultural ambiguity regarding marital roles, specifically pertaining to how labor should be divided with regard to household chores and child rearing. The importance of cognitive processes regarding labor division has been suggested by several lines of research, although few efforts have been made to integrate this work with the broader literatures on marital cognition and social comparison theory. The current project bridges these areas of study by considering the relationships among cognitions regarding the division of labor in actual, typical, and ideal marriages. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from eighty-three dual-earner couples in order to pursue four goals: (1) compare perceptions of egalitarianism in actual, typical, and ideal marriages; (2) test proposed relationships among cognitive contents and marital satisfaction; (3) understand cognitive comparison processes; and (4) examine narrative descriptions of ideal and actual marriages. Findings from the study indicate that ideal marriages were perceived as most egalitarian, and spouses tended to view their actual marriages as being similar to the ideal and better than the typical marriage. As hypothesized, more favorable social comparisons were associated with higher levels of marital satisfaction, and cognitions regarding the typical and ideal marriage played distinct roles relative to social comparison processes. The results of the study highlight the importance of specifying a referent when considering marital cognitions, as well as recognizing gender differences in the salience of different cognitive contents. Two cognitive phenomena are theorized to result from current ambiguity regarding division of labor arrangements: a rejection of external marital ideals in favor of relying on one's own experience, and the utilization of downward social comparisons to the typical marriage. The implications of these findings with regard to marital satisfaction and socio-political change are discussed.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Horneffer, Karen Jean
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9702538
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9702538

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