Attributions in marriage: state or trait? A growth curve analysis

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2000 Feb;78(2):295-309. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.78.2.295.


Research on attributions in marriage rests on 2 assumptions. First, the attributions spouses make for their partners' behaviors have been treated as a style or a trait, reflecting enduring aspects of the perceiver. Second, attributions have been described as a causal factor in the development of the marriage over time. To evaluate the evidence for these assumptions, the authors analyzed 8 waves of longitudinal data from a sample of newlywed couples. Results offered no support for the idea of an enduring attributional style; attributions changed linearly, and changes in attributions were strongly associated with changes in marital satisfaction within each spouse. Nevertheless, controlling for these associations, initial levels of attributions predicted changes in marital satisfaction more than initial satisfaction predicted changes in attributions. Effects of neuroticism and effects on marital dissolution were also examined.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Divorce / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors