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Title:Cognition, emotion, and interaction in distressed and nondistressed marriages
Author(s):Bradbury, Thomas Nelson
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fincham, Frank D.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Social
Psychology, Clinical
Abstract:A long tradition of research on marriage has established that maritally distressed and nondistressed couples differ in the behaviors they exhibit while interacting. In contrast, relatively little is known about the variables that give rise to behavior in interaction, the expectations that spouses have before their interaction and their reactions following interaction, and the aspects of interaction that predict change in marital quality. These three issues, which derive from a recently proposed contextual model that expands upon the behavioral approach to marital interaction, are examined in the present study. Forty-seven couples were instructed to discuss a major difficulty in their marriage and those discussions were later coded for the specific emotions expressed by spouses and for the behavioral skills they exhibited in attempting to solve the problem. Immediately before and after the interaction spouses reported their thoughts and feelings about the interaction. Spouses also completed instruments that assessed their marital satisfaction, their attributions for marital difficulties, and the degree to which they believed they were able to resolve their marital problems; these three instruments were administered again 12 months later. The following results were obtained. First, attributions in which the partner was viewed less favorably were related to lower quality problem-solving behavior and a variety of positive and negative affects in the interaction, especially for wives. Lower levels of perceived efficacy in being able to resolve marital problems were related to lower quality problem-solving behavior and to higher levels of anger and lower levels of anxiety, for wives only. Second, maladaptive thoughts and feelings before and after interaction were related to lower levels of marital satisfaction, less skillful problem-solving behavior, and expressions of anger and contempt in the interaction. Third, declines in satisfaction over a 12-month period were predicted by a variety of thoughts and feelings before and after interaction, and by husbands' whining and anxiety and wives' sadness during the interaction. These results are interpreted as providing support for formulations such as the contextual model that elaborate upon behavioral formulations of marriage, and several specific implications of these findings for understanding marital dysfunction are outlined.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Bradbury, Thomas Nelson
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9114180
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9114180

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