HOSTILITY IN MARRIAGE The Behavioral Effects of Trait Hostility on Marital Interaction & Satisfaction
OVERVIEW • Introduction • Brief View of Personality & Marriage • What does Hostility do? • Goals of this Study • Methods/Procedure • Sample • Results • Implications
INTRODUCTION • Why do some marriages fail, while others last until the death of one spouse? • What are the behaviors that contribute to marital distress? • What role does conflict play in marital dissolution? • Does support or positive affect matter?
Personality & Marriage • Negative traits associated with less satisfaction & more distress (Karney & Bradbury, 1995; Kelly & Conley, 1987; Watson, Hubbard, & Wiese,2000) • Positive traits associated with relationship satisfaction(Watson, Hubbard, & Wiese, 2000) • Personality characteristics have been known to predict perceptions of support/positive behaviors(Pasch, Bradbury, & Lewis, 1997)
What Does Hostility Do? • Traits in the hostility domain include: cynicism, anger, mistrust, and aggression(Barefoot et al. 1989) • Hostile persons display low levels of social support and high levels of social conflict(Gallo & Smith, 1999) • Hostility predicts deterioration in personal relations(Newton & Kiecolt-Glaser, 1995)
What Does Hostility Do? • Greater marital instability has been associated with more hostility and less warmth(Matthews & Wickrama, 1996) • Tend to interrupt, acknowledge spouses verbal contributions less in interactions(Kiecolt-Glaser et al. 1998) • One hostile person in a marital couple escalates the overall level of expressed negativity(T.W. Smith et al., 1990)
First-Year Project: Goals • Goals were to examine: • Role of hostility in newlywed relationship • Association between hostility & specific conflict behaviors/affect • Link between hostility & marital satisfaction
First-year Project: Hypotheses • (1) Level of hostility would be positively associated with frequency of negative affect • (2) Level of hostility would be negatively associated with frequency of positive affect • (3) Hostility would be associated with lower levels of marital satisfaction
First-year Project: Sample • Subset of 66 of 105 couples participating in Marital & Family Development Project • Principal Investigator: Erika Lawrence, Ph.D • 4-yr. longitudinal study of newlywed couples in their first marriage
First-year Project: Sample • Age • Husbands averaged 26.4 (S.D.=4.7) yrs of age • Wives averaged 25.0 (S.D. =4.3) yrs of age • Race/Ethnicity • Husbands: 89% Caucasian • Wives: 92% Caucasian • Education • 16 years on average for both
First-Year Project: Procedure • Completed questionnaires prior to an in lab session • Interviewed separately about marriage • 10-min. videotaped discussions of topic of his/her choosing regarding a conflict issue • 9 mo. Follow-up questionnaires
Measures: Hostility & Anger • Cook-Medley Hostility Scale • 50 True/False Questions • Coefficient alpha: husbands (.88), wives (.87) • Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire • Hostility Subscale • 8 questions in Likert format • Coefficient alpha: husbands (.86), wives (.75)
Measures: Hostility & Anger • Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire • Anger Subscale • 7 questions in Likert format • Coefficient alpha: husbands (.64), wives (.62)
Measures: Marital Satisfaction • Kansas Marital Satisfaction Scale (KMS) • 3 items with Likert response format • Coefficient alpha: husbands (.93), wives (.96)
Measures: Marital Satisfaction • Norton’s Quality of Marriage Index (QMI) • 6 items with Likert format • Coefficient alpha: husbands (.95), wives (.94)
Measures: Marital Satisfaction • Marital Adjustment Test (MAT) • 15 items with mixed format • Coefficient alpha: husbands (.60), wives (.63)
Measures: Negative Temperament • Schedule for Adaptive & Non-adaptive Personality (SNAP) • Negative Temperament Subscale • 28 True/False items • Coefficient alpha: husbands (.87), wives (.88) • Means: Husbands (M=52.75, S.D.= 6.69), wives (M=45.28, S.D.=7.45)
Specific Affect Coding System (SPAFF) Facial expression Vocal tone Speech content 5 positive codes 10 negative codes 1 neutral Percent agreement ranged from 82%-100% Measures: Behavioral Coding
RESULTS: Hypothesis 1 • (1) Level of hostility would be positively associated with frequency of negative affect • A significant positive association was found between husbands’ and wives’ hostility and sadness. • However for wives, a negative association between disgust and hostility was found.
RESULTS: Hypothesis 2 • (2) Level of hostility would be negatively associated with frequency of positive affect • A significant negative association was found between affection and hostility for wives. • However no other negative associations with positive behaviors were found.
RESULTS: Hypothesis 3 • (3) Hostility would be associated with lower levels of marital satisfaction • Significant negative associations were found between both husbands’ and wives’ hostility and their self-reported marital satisfaction.
Discussion: Strengths • Multiple measures of target constructs • Controlled for variability across relationships • Comprehensive examination of marital interaction
Discussion: Limitations • Sample • Self-selected • Homogeneity • Non-hostile • Measures • Psychometrics (MAT, Cook) • Conceptualization of SPAFF codes (sadness vs disappointment) • Cross-sectional, correlational
Implications/Future Directions • Behavioral Interaction at later time point • Possible relationship between the effects of trait level hostility in marital dyad and health perceptions/outcomes • Integrate positive and negative • Integrate traits and behaviors