Aug 28, 2023
Published in: Cognitive Therapy and Research, Volume 45, pages 529-541 (2021). doi: 10.1007/s10608-020-10161-w
Posted on rand.org Jun 21, 2023
Theoretical and clinical perspectives argue that couples' maladaptive attributions for marital problems lead to marital distress and that these attributions will detract from couples' relationships regardless of their external circumstances. However, emerging work in cognitive psychology indicates that stress simplifies individuals' information processing, suggesting that the demands faced by couples may strengthen the link between maladaptive attributions and relationship satisfaction.
With a sample of 462 ethnically diverse newlywed spouses living with low incomes (231 couples, with >30% Black and >50% Latinx), we assessed attributions and relationship satisfaction, along with three hypothesized moderators: couples' financial strain, perceived financial capital within couples' social networks, and the proportion of married couples within couples' social networks.
After replicating the robust association between maladaptive attributions and relationship satisfaction, we demonstrate that the association between maladaptive attributions and satisfaction is stronger to the extent that spouses' social networks are characterized by fewer financial resources and lower proportions of married couples.
Contextual factors may alter the effects that partners' cognitions have on relationship satisfaction, suggesting that influences far removed from the dyad itself can affect basic processes arising between partners.