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A Biographical Sketch of the PAIR Project

The Processes of Adaptation in Intimate Relationships Project was conceived in 1979 at the Pennsylvania State University. The project was originally designed to follow a sampleof newlyweds through the first two and a half years of marriage, tracing the development of such patterns of marital interaction as the division of labor, leisure, conflict, and the expression of positive and negative affect. An important feature of the original purpose of the project was to gather detailed information on courtship so that the early years of marriage could be studied in the context of each couple's relationship. By the second phase of the Project many of the couples had become parents. Data collection was thus expanded to include respondents' perceptions of the child-related issues in their lives, as well as perceptions of their relationships to work.

The couples who participated in the initial waves of the study were all in their first marriages, and most of them resided in small towns and rural areas in Central Pennsylvania. Names of newly wedded couples were drawn from public marriage license records maintained in four county courthouses. Couples were eligible to participate if (1) both spouses were English-speaking, (2) neither had been married previously, and (3) they had no moving plans for the two years of the initial study.

Each couple was interviewed by two trained interviewers, a man and a woman. The interviews took place in the homes of the respondents, with the first part of each interview conducted with the couple as a pair. Couples were later separated for individual interviews. For each phase, interviewers also called the couples on nine different evenings to gather information on the spouses' daily activities.

After the first three planned waves of data collection, the Project began to analyze and publish the results of the study, resulting in several  papers and findings. In addition, findings appeared in articles in such publications as Redbook, Bride, the New York Times, and Self magazine. The Project was even included in a British television miniseries on marital research.

In 1985, principle investigator Ted Huston moved to the University of Texas at Austin. In 1991, a follow-up was proposed, and search processes for the original participants were set in motion. When recontacted, the respondents were scattered all over the nation, and some had even moved abroad. Almost all of the couples consented to be re-interviewed, resulting in a vast amount of new information on the antecedents of long-term distress and divorce. Currently, we are working on several new papers that we hope will prove to be as worthy of interest as our papers published over the years pertaining to courtship and the early years of marriage.

The PAIR Project at the University of Texas at Austin
Principal Investigator, Ted L. Huston
Page last modified: 29 July 2002