Kevin Lewis

April 09, 2011

Two Become One? Spouses and Agreement in Political Opinions

Tracy Osborn & Jeanette Morehouse Mendez
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Spouses who talk about politics with each other have long been considered aberrant cases of political discussion because of the frequency of their interaction and the high levels of agreement between them. Using the 1996 Indianapolis-St. Louis Election Study, we challenge these assumptions. We find that compared with other types of discussion dyads, married dyads are no more likely to agree about a host of policy issues, even though they do talk about them more frequently. In addition, we find even when spouses do agree about their presidential vote choice more often, they do not perceive this agreement to exist. These findings indicate that within the microfoundations of married political behavior, spouses may experience less political variety because of the frequency of their interaction, but this does not necessarily mean they experience lower levels of disagreement.


Home affordability, female marriage rates and vote choice in the 2000 US presidential election: Evidence from US counties

George Hawley
Party Politics, forthcoming

This article tests the hypothesis that differences in the housing market can partially explain why some American counties are strongly Republican and others strongly Democratic, and that this phenomenon can be largely attributed to the relationship between home values and marriage rates within counties. Specifically, I test the hypothesis that, in the 2000 election, George W. Bush did comparatively better in counties with relatively affordable single-family homes, even when controlling for other economic, demographic and regional variables. Using county-level data, I test this hypothesis using spatial-lag regression models, and provide further evidence using individual-level survey data. My results indicate a statistically significant relationship between Bush's percentage of the vote at the county level and the median value of owner-occupied homes, and that at least part of this is explained by the relationship between home values and marriage rates among young women.


Cohabitation: Parents Following in Their Children's Footsteps?

Lauren Rinelli McClain
Sociological Inquiry, May 2011, Pages 260-271

As cohabitation has risen dramatically in the past few decades among adults of all ages, it is possible that middle-and older-aged parents are "learning" cohabitation from their young adult children. The present study uses this theory as a guiding framework to determine if parents are more likely to cohabit themselves following the start of a young adult child's cohabitation. Using three waves of the National Survey of Families and Households (N = 275), results show that union formation patterns are influenced by young adult children among parents who are single at their child's 18th birthday. Parents are less likely to marry than remain single and are much more likely to cohabit than marry if they have a young adult child who cohabits. These results show support for the hypotheses.


Does the unemployment rate affect the divorce rate? An analysis of state data 1960-2005

Paul Amato & Brett Beattie
Social Science Research, May 2011, Pages 705-715

We analyzed data from 50 states and the District of Columbia from 1960 to 2005 to study how the unemployment rate and the divorce rate are related. Unemployment is positively related to divorce in a bivariate analysis, but the association is not significant when state and year fixed effects are included in the statistical model. When the sample is divided into time periods, unemployment is negatively and significantly associated with divorce after 1980. These findings provide the strongest support for a "cost of divorce" perspective and suggest that a high rate of unemployment decreases the rate of divorce, net of unobserved time-invariant state characteristics and period (year) trends.


Conventions of Courtship: Gender and Race Differences in the Significance of Dating Rituals

Pamela Braboy Jackson et al.
Journal of Family Issues, May 2011, Pages 629-652

Dating rituals include dating-courtship methods that are regularly enacted. This study explores gender and race differences in the relative importance placed on certain symbolic activities previously identified by the dating literature as constituting such rituals. Using information collected from a racially diverse sample of college students (N = 680), it is found that some traditional gender differences persist, but that these are also cross-cut by racial contrasts. Men, overall, place more emphasis on gifting, as well as sexual activity. Gender differences, however, are significantly greater among African Americans as compared with Whites in the sample studied. African American respondents are also significantly more likely than White respondents to associate meeting the family with a more serious dating relationship. The findings highlight the need for greater efforts to uncover and account for racial differences in dating, relationships, and courtship.


Inequity in Forgiveness: Implications for Personal and Relational Well-Being

Giorgia Paleari, Camillo Regalia & Frank Fincham
Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, March 2011, Pages 297-324

In close relationships partners tend to be, simultaneously or alternatively, perpetrators and victims of transgressions. Yet forgiveness has been examined primarily from the perspective of the victim and no research has investigated experienced inequity between receiving and giving forgiveness. Informed by equity and esteem enhancement theories, the present study investigated whether an imbalance between granting and receiving forgiveness in marriage affects subsequent psychological and relational well-being. Among married couples (n = 129), spouses agreed that husbands tended to be underbenefited and wives overbenefited in regard to marital forgiveness. For wives inequity in marital forgiveness predicted a decrease in personal and relational subjective well-being over a 6-month period. Interestingly, the prediction was significant even when controlling for underbenefited versus overbenefited status. Inequity predicted cross-partner well-being only indirectly through one's own well-being.


Tempting Fate or Inviting Happiness? Unrealistic Idealization Prevents the Decline of Marital Satisfaction

Sandra Murray et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

This article examines whether unrealistically viewing a romantic partner as resembling one's ideal partner accelerates or slows declines in marital satisfaction among newlyweds. A longitudinal study linked unrealistic idealization at the time of marriage to changes in satisfaction over the first 3 years of marriage. Overall, satisfaction declined markedly, a finding that is consistent with past research. However, seeing a less-than-ideal partner as a reflection of one's ideals predicted a certain level of protection against the corrosive effects of time: People who initially idealized their partner the most experienced no decline in satisfaction. The benefits of idealization remained in analyses that controlled separately for the positivity of partner perceptions and the possibility that better adjusted people might be in better relationships.


The role of unstable self-esteem in the appraisal of romantic relationships

Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Jessica Jade Fulton & Chandler McLemore
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

The relationship appraisals of individuals with stable and unstable forms of self-esteem were examined in two studies using undergraduate participants. Study 1 (N = 166) used indicators of relationship closeness and satisfaction whereas Study 2 (N = 125) examined relationship commitment. Across both studies, men with unstable high self-esteem reported more positive views of their relationships than other individuals. We believe that the fragile nature of their feelings of self-worth may have motivated these men to appraise their relationships positively in an effort to maintain and enhance their own tenuous feelings of self-worth. These findings suggest that men with unstable high self-esteem may use their romantic relationships to regulate how they feel about themselves.


Exploring the Relationship between Types of Family Work and Marital Well-Being

Daphne Pedersen et al.
Sociological Spectrum, May/June 2011, Pages 288-315

We use an expanded definition of family work and test its association with marital well-being. Using a gender perspective, we examine the role of the respondent's and partner's performance of family work for both husbands and wives. Data are taken from a sample of couples with dependent children under age 18 (N = 96), and separate regression equations are estimated by gender. Though housework is cited as one of the most contentious issues reported by couples, it is not significant in our analysis of marital well-being. In our analysis, other forms of family work are considered, and childcare, emotion work, and formal volunteering are significantly associated with marital well-being. The role of partner's provision of emotion work is particularly salient. Discussion of the gendered nature of our findings follows.


Self- and Partner-objectification in Romantic Relationships: Associations with Media Consumption and Relationship Satisfaction

Eileen Zurbriggen, Laura Ramsey & Beth Jaworski
Sex Roles, April 2011, Pages 449-462

Few studies have examined objectification in the context of romantic relationships, even though strong theoretical arguments have often made this connection. This study addresses this gap in the literature by examining whether exposure to mass media is related to self-objectification and objectification of one's partner, which in turn is hypothesized to be related to relationship and sexual satisfaction. A sample of undergraduate students (91 women and 68 men) enrolled in a university on the west coast of the United States completed self-report measures of the following variables: self-objectification, objectification of one's romantic partner, relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, and exposure to objectifying media. Men reported higher levels of partner objectification than did women; there was no gender difference in self-objectification. Self- and partner-objectification were positively correlated; this correlation was especially strong for men. In regression analyses, partner-objectification was predictive of lower levels of relationship satisfaction. Furthermore, a path model revealed that consuming objectifying media is related to lowered relationship satisfaction through the variable of partner-objectification. Finally, self- and partner-objectification were related to lower levels of sexual satisfaction among men. This study provides evidence for the negative effects of objectification in the context of romantic relationships among young adults.


Marital Satisfaction Across Three Cultures: Does the Number of Children Have an Impact After Accounting for Other Marital Demographics?

Craig Wendorf et al.
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, April 2011, Pages 340-354

U.S. studies indicate that children tend to stabilize marriage but, paradoxically, to reduce marital satisfaction. To explore whether this finding exists in a similar fashion in other cultures, the authors studied the impact of number of children on spousal love in the United States, United Kingdom, and Turkey, while accounting for other marital demographics (such as duration of marriage and the ages of wives and husbands). The number of children predicted diminished marital satisfaction in couples from all three cultures, although this effect arguably was not present in Turkish wives. In addition, marital satisfaction in couples from all three cultures was generally negatively predicted by the duration of marriage. Marital satisfaction was generally unrelated to wife's age. The effect of husband's age was important to marital satisfaction in couples from all cultures, although the nature of this effect diverged in relating positively to marital satisfaction for British and American couples but negatively for Turkish couples and especially Turkish wives. The authors identify several potentially important implications of these results.


Marital Satisfaction and Communication Behaviors During Sexual and Nonsexual Conflict Discussions in Newlywed Couples: A Pilot Study

Uzma Rehman et al.
Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, March 2011, Pages 94-103

The way couples communicate during conflict discussions has been found to be a reliable predictor of marital satisfaction. However, in previous research, there has been little experimental control over the selection of topics. The present study examined, in a sample of 15 newlywed couples, whether affective displays during the discussion of a sexual and a nonsexual conflict topic differentially predict current marital satisfaction. Communication behaviors were coded using an adaptation of the Specific Affect Coding System, resulting in composite "negative behavior" and "positive behavior" categories. Data were analyzed using multilevel modeling. Negative behaviors displayed during the nonsexual conflict discussions were not significantly related to concurrent self-reported relationship satisfaction. In contrast, for wives, negative behaviors displayed during the discussion of a sexual problem were significantly related to lower levels of relationship satisfaction. For the sexual and nonsexual conflict discussions, positive behaviors were positively associated with relationship satisfaction, although this effect did not reach statistical significance. Overall, the authors' findings emphasize the importance of incorporating sexual variables in the study of marriage. Furthermore, their study represents an important step in recognizing that marital research benefits from an examination of specific topics of conflict as a factor to consider in studies of marital functioning.


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