Empirical Research

Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 39, Issue 11, pp 1305-1317

First online:

Marital Attitude Trajectories Across Adolescence

  • Brian J. WilloughbyAffiliated withSchool of Family Life, Brigham Young University Email author 

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The current study seeks to address the implicit assumption in the developmental literature that marital attitudes are static by investigating how various marital attitudes might change across adolescence. Longitudinal change for three marital attitudes in relation to family structure, educational aspirations, race and gender are examined. Utilizing a sample of 1,010 high school students (53% male; 76% white) recruited from a Midwestern metropolitan area, latent growth models were used to model marital attitude trajectories across adolescence. The sample was followed for 4 years from ages 14 until 18. Results revealed that adolescents placed a higher priority on marriage as they prepared to transition into young adulthood but that gender, race and educational aspirations all altered the degree in which marital attitudes changed across the time period of the study. Results highlight the importance of considering multiple constructs of marital attitudes and the need for more longitudinal work in this area of study.


Marital attitudes Marriage Adolescence Expectations Trajectories