The role of marital attributions in the relationship between life stressors and marital quality
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This study examines the role that marital attributions may play in the relationship between the occurrence of stressful life events and marital quality. Specifically, it is suggested that within a crisis theory framework, the meaning couples attribute to stressful events may either mediate or moderate the impact of stressors on the marital relationship. First, several models of stress adaptation in families and marriages are discussed. Next, current research on marital attributions is reviewed, and problems with this field of research are explored. Finally, the possible role of marital attributions in stress adaptation is examined. A total of 60 married couples completed measures on current life stressors, marital quality, and marital attributions. The mediational model failed to find support due to the lack of a strong relationship between life stressors and marital attributions. Partial support for the moderational model was found. These results can be interpreted as indicating that the marital quality of couples who make relationship-enhancing attributions about their spouses' negative behaviors is less negatively affected by stress than those who make distress-maintaining attributions. Findings concurrent with the literature on resilience suggest that the experience of life stressors may afford an opportunity for a couple's marriage to strengthen if adaptive marital attributions are used. Differences in the moderational role of marital attributions between men and women and stress adaptation literature suggest future avenues of research.
Graham, James Madeira (2003). The role of marital attributions in the relationship between life stressors and marital quality. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from