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Methodological Considerations of Studying Interdependence in Marriage

We briefly discuss points here that are amplified in
Huston & Robins (1982).

Conceptual & Theoretical     Methodological

Conceptual & Theoretical Considerations

In an encounter between spouses, there is a distinction between two kinds of brief events that occur: one is interpersonal; the other is subjective (or covert).

Ongoing relationships exhibit two levels of interdependence: psychological interdependence and behavioral (or interactional) independence, including both direct and indirect interdependence.

Subjective conditions can affect interpersonal and subjective events, and these events continue to affect each partner's subjective conditions.

Identifiable patterns or regularities in interactional interdependence are conceptualized as relationship properties.

Methodological Considerations

The measurement of relationship properties is best carried out by collecting data at the interpersonal event level, after specifying the unit of analysis, and then aggregating.

We gather behavioral self-reports from each spouse at the end of each day across a nine-day sampling period; later we aggregate the data to create relationship property variables. This avoids several subjective pitfalls on the part of the respondent, resulting in highly valid indices of marital behavior.

The measurement of subjective conditions is also necessary to determine not only what the respondents do, but how they feel about what they do, which may be a more important variable in some cases. As a result, we collected data on spouses' satisfaction with several behavioral areas of marriage.

All measures were given to both spouses.

The PAIR Project at the University of Texas at Austin
Principal Investigator, Ted L. Huston
Page last modified: 14 February 2002