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J Fam Psychol. 2000 Jun;14(2):267-85.

The longitudinal association between attributions and marital satisfaction: direction of effects and role of efficacy expectations.

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Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Buffalo 14260-4110, USA.


This study investigated the direction of possible causal effects between attributions for negative partner behavior and marital satisfaction and tested whether any effects are mediated by efficacy expectations regarding marital conflict. Couples married for 15-20 months completed measures of attribution and satisfaction at Time 1 and at Time 3 (18 months later). At Time 2 (6 months after Time 1) they completed a measure of efficacy expectations. For both husbands and wives, a cross-lagged effects model showed that the paths from causal attributions to later satisfaction and from satisfaction to later causal attributions were significant. Efficacy expectations mediated the temporal relation between attributions and satisfaction. These findings support the assumption that there is a reciprocal causal influence between attributions and satisfaction but suggest important modifications to models of close relationships and marital therapy.

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