For better, for worse: discrepancies between implicit and explicit evaluations in newlywed marriage

by Michael R. Maniaci

Institution: University of Rochester
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Keywords: Implicit; Relationship satisfaction; Newlywed; Marriage
Record ID: 2058590
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1802/29241


During the early years of marriage, newlyweds may suppress or deny nascent doubts about their marriage in order to maintain a sense of security and justify their commitment. These circumstances may promote divergence between automatic evaluative reactions (implicit attitudes) and self-reported relationship satisfaction. This form of ambivalence may both signify emerging disillusionment and directly influence relationship functioning. The current research explored the nature of discrepancies between implicit and explicit evaluations in the context of newlywed marriage using intensive longitudinal methods and dyadic data from a sample of 175 newlywed couples. Hypotheses focused on consequences of discrepancies between implicit and explicit evaluations and the degree to which discrepancies are associated with factors that affect spouses’ motivation or ability to openly accept (rather than defensively deny or suppress) automatic evaluative reactions. Results indicated that implicit and explicit evaluations tended to be more congruent for those relatively high in attachment anxiety and for those relatively low in attachment avoidance, dispositional mindfulness, and self-esteem. Results also highlighted several ways in which discrepant evaluations may influence relationship functioning. Discrepancies between implicit and explicit evaluations were associated with greater variability in relationship satisfaction, greater reactivity to a spouse’s daily negative behavior, and relatively steeper declines in relationship satisfaction over time. Overall, results suggest that congruence between implicit and explicit evaluations may reflect motivational processes and may have implications for long-term relationship functioning.