Summary of "Personality and Temperament Correlates of Marital Satisfaction"

Participants in the study were 166 married couples, with ages ranging from 20-85 years. All participants were administered a new and comprehensive marital satisfaction scale plus Mehrabian's Pleasantness-Arousability-Dominance temperament scales. Findings showed that, in general, individuals with more pleasant and more dominant temperaments tended to be happier in their marriages. Additionally, those who had mates with more pleasant temperaments, were happier in their marriages. In short, pleasantness of temperament (which is a very general measure of psychological adjustment vs. maladjustment) tended to be a key predictor of satisfaction in marriage, showing that better adjusted persons, and those with better adjusted mates, were more satisfied in marriage. Specific findings for the wives also showed that unpleasant and submissive (i.e., depressive) characteristics of the wives were highly detrimental to marital satisfaction. Temperament accounted for (or explained) substantially more variance (30% - 34%) in marital satisfaction than effect sizes that previously have been reported in the personality/marital satisfaction literature.

Historically, there has been some interest in study of similarity of mates in relation to marital satisfaction. Our findings showed that, although inter-mate temperament similarity on Pleasantness and Dominance (but not on Arousability) correlated positively with marital satisfaction, similarity was a weak and misleading predictor of satisfaction. Similarity, for instance, would suggest that two maladjusted mates have a better chance at marriage than an adjusted plus a maladjusted couple. Findings on individual temperament characteristics, noted above, show that this inference is incorrect and, generally, findings based on individual temperament scores, treated as separate variables, provide the most accurate predictions of marital satisfaction. Finally, weak results showed that individuals selected mates with temperaments similar to their own.

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