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Title:Marital status and well-being
Author(s):Scott, Christy K.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Diener, Edward F.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Clinical
Psychology, Personality
Abstract:In an attempt to disentangle the causal relationship between marital status and psychological well-being, two general hypotheses were tested. The first hypothesis follows from a model of well-being in which changes in major life events are presumed to cause changes in well-being. Accordingly, transitions into marriage and remarriage will produce increases in well-being, whereas divorce will produce decreases in well-being. The second hypothesis, one known as the selection theory, was also tested. According to the selection theory, marital status is a consequence of selectivity, in that preexisting variables such as well-being predispose people to certain marital statuses. Accordingly, people who report high levels of well-being will be more likely to marry and stay married than people who report low levels of well-being. Understanding the relationship between marital status and well-being involves more than the issue of causality; it is equally important to identify variables that mediate such a relationship. Therefore, variables including gender, personality, and the presence of a companion were considered.
Data from a national probability sample were used in the present study to observe the interplay among the aforementioned variables over a 10 year period. It is clear from this study that transitions into marriage, including both first marriages and remarriages, fail to produce long-term increases in well-being. Moreover, divorce did not decrease well-being. In contrast, preexisting variables including well-being, extraversion, and Type A predisposed people to certain marital statuses. Individuals who reported higher levels of well-being were more likely to marry and stay married than individuals who reported low levels of well-being. Extraverts were more likely to to marry than introverts, and individuals who reported high levels of Type A were more likely to divorce. Based on this pattern of results, it is an error to automatically assume that differences in the levels of well-being reported by individuals in different marital status groups are causally attributable to marital status. Personality drives our selection of events and may ultimately impact our experience of these events.
Issue Date:1992
Rights Information:Copyright 1992 Scott, Christy K.
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9236589
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9236589

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