Marital stability as a function of selected personality characteristics in teenage marriages

Karen Susan Levine, Fordham University


The objectives of this study were to increase our understanding of factors that relate to and influence marital stability. This study, therefore, investigated the relation between pre-marital personality characteristics and marital stability. Previous research suggested that certain differences and similarities in psychological factors are associated with differences in marital stability. However, none of these studies focused on the pre-marital characteristics of the couples, or looked at group profile differences of stable and unstable marriages. Subjects included 72 engaged teenage couples who had taken the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire prior to marriage. Each couple was contacted 3 to 5 years later to determine their marital status (defined in terms of living together-stable vs. no longer together-unstable). It was anticipated that couples would differ (be more homogamous or heterogeneous) on selected personality factors depending on whether they remained married or were separated or divorced. The results of the study supported the view that a relation exists between personality and marital stability. Correlational analyses indicated that the husbands and wives in the stable group were similar to each other in intelligence, suspiciousness, and conservatism/radicalism and that the husbands and wives in the unstable group were dissimilar in warmth and outgoingness and similar in intelligence. In examining profile differences, a multivariate analysis of variance revealed a significant difference between the stable and unstable groups and between sexes. An analysis of variance test was performed to test for sex differences and differences in group means. Sex differences were found in degree of warmth and outgoingness (men significantly greater) and in ego strength (women significantly greater). The group differences were not significant on any single personality factor, leading to the conclusion that the vector of scores predicted the group differences and were more effective than any single factor in identifying stable and unstable marriages. It was recommended that pre-marital personality characteristics may provide important information for the marital counselor. By focusing on the personality characteristics of the couple, the counselor can aid them in establishing satisfying relationships, and thus lessen the high divorce rate among teenage marriages.

Subject Area

Personality|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Levine, Karen Susan, "Marital stability as a function of selected personality characteristics in teenage marriages" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8821957.