Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 50–62 | Cite as

Associations Between Family and Interpersonal Processes and Emerging Adult Marital Paradigms: Does Adult Attachment Mediate?

  • Todd M. Jensen
  • Brian J. Willoughby
  • Thomas B. Holman
  • Dean M. Busby
  • Kevin Shafer
Article

Abstract

Current research on predictors of marital attitudes highlights the importance of family and interpersonal processes, yet fails to identify which factors are more important and whether there are mediators that help to conceptually simplify the process by which such attitudes are influenced. We examine the influence of family-of-origin quality and past romantic relationships on three specific marital paradigms, as well as the mediating role adult attachment may play in these associations. We used a sample of 1,210 single heterosexual males (23 %) and females (77 %), age 18–30 years, who took the READY assessment. Results indicated that family-of-origin quality, attachment style, and past romantic relationships are all associated with emerging adult marital paradigms, with attachment avoidance having the most significant overall relationship with the outcomes. Results also indicated that adult attachment acts as a significant mediator between family/interpersonal processes and marital paradigm outcomes. Conclusions, limitations, and implications are discussed.

Keywords

Adult attachment Emerging adulthood Family of origin Marital paradigms Past relationship influence 

References

  1. Ainsworth, M., Blehar, M., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  2. Amato, P., Booth, A., Johnson, D., & Rogers, S. (2007). Alone together: How marriage in America is changing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Arbuckle, J. L. (2005). Amos 6.0 user’s guide. Chicago, IL: SPSS.Google Scholar
  4. Arnett, J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychologist, 55, 469–480.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bogle, R., & Wu, H. (2010). Thirty years of change in marriage and union formation attitudes, 1976–2008 (FP-10-03). National Center for Family and marriage Research. http://ncfmr.bgsu.edu/pdf/family_profiles/file83691.pdf
  6. Bowlby, J. (1969/1982). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1 attachment (2nd ed.). New York: Basic. (Original work published 1969).Google Scholar
  7. Bowlby, J. (1988). A secure base: Clinical applications of attachment theory. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Busby, D. M., Holman, T. B., & Taniguchi, N. (2001). RELATE: Relationships evaluation of the individual, family, cultural, and couple contexts. Family Relations, 50, 308–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Byrne, B. (2001). Structural equation modeling with AMOS. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  10. Carnelley, K., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1992). Optimism about love relationships: General vs. specific lessons from one’s personal experiences. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 9, 5–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Carroll, J. S., Willoughby, B. J., Nelson, L. J., Barry, C. M., & Madsen, S. (2007). So close, yet so far away: The impact of varying marital horizons on emerging adulthood. Journal of Adolescence Research, 22, 219–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cherlin, A. (2004). The deinstitutionalization of American marriage. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66(4), 848–861.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clarkberg, M., Stolzenberg, R. M., & Waite, L. J. (1995). Attitudes, values and entrance into cohabitation versus marital unions. Social Forces, 74, 609–634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Crissey, S. R. (2005). Race/ethnic differences in the marital expectations of adolescents: The role of romantic relationships. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67(3), 697–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cunningham, M., & Thornton, A. (2006). The influence of parents’ marital quality on adult children’s attitudes toward marriage and its alternatives: Main and moderating effects. Demography, 43, 659–672.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Dalton, W. T., Frick-Horbury, D., & Kitzmann, K. M. (2006). Young adults’ retrospective reports of parenting by mothers and fathers: Associations with current relationship quality. The Journal of General Psychology, 133(1), 5–18.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Dinero, R. E., Conger, R. D., Shaver, P. R., Widaman, K. F., & Larsen-Rife, D. (2011). Influence of family of origin and adult romantic partners on romantic attachment security. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 1, 16–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fowers, B. J. (1991). His and her marriage: A multivariate study of gender and marital satisfaction. Sex Roles, 24(3–4), 209–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fraley, R. C., & Spieker, S. J. (2003). Are infant attachment patterns continuously or categorically distributed? A taxometric analysis of strange situation behavior. Developmental Psychology, 39, 387–404.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Geiser, C. (2013). Data analysis with Mplus. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hall, S. S. (2006). Marital meaning: Exploring young adults’ belief systems about marriage. Journal of Family Issues, 27, 1437–1458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hall, S. S. (2012). Implicit theories of the marital institution. Marriage and Family Review, 48, 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. (1987). Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 511–524.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Hetherington, E. M., & Kelly, J. (2002). For better or worse: Divorce reconsidered. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  25. Jackson, D. (2003). Revisiting sample size and number of parameter estimates: Some support for the N:q hypothesis. Structural Equation Modeling, 10, 128–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kelley, M. L., Nair, V., Rawlings, T., Cash, T. F., Steer, K., & Fals-Stewart, W. (2005). Retrospective reports of parenting received in their families of origin: Relationships to adult attachment in adult children of alcoholics. Addictive Behaviors, 30(8), 1479–1495.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Kline, R. (2011). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (3rd ed.). New York: Guildford Press.Google Scholar
  28. Lefever, S., Dal, M., & Matthiasdottir, A. (2007). Online data collection in academic research: Advantages and limitations. British Journal of Educational Technology, 38(4), 574–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lehrer, E. L. (2004). Religion as a determinant of economic and demographic behavior in the United States. Population and Development Review, 30(4), 707–726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McCrae, R., & Costa, P. (1989). The structure of interpersonal traits: Wiggin’s circumplex and the five-factor model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 586–595.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. (2007). Attachment in adulthood. Structure, dynamics, and change. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  32. Risch, S. C., Jodl, K. M., & Eccles, J. S. (2004). Role of the father-adolescent relationship in shaping adolescents’ attitudes toward divorce. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66, 46–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Simpson, J. A., Rholes, S. W., & Phillips, D. (1996). Conflict in close relationships: An attachment perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 899–914.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Thornton, A., & Young-DeMarco, L. (2001). Four decades of trends in attitudes toward family issues in the United States: The 1960s through the 1990s. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63, 1009–1037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Trent, K., & South, S. (1992). Sociodemographic status, parental background, childhood family structure, and attitudes toward family formation. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 54(2), 427–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Whitaker, D., Beach, S., Etherton, J., Wakefield, R., & Anderson, P. (1999). Attachment and expectations about future relationships: Moderation by accessibility. Personal Relationships, 6, 41–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Willoughby, B. J. (2010). Trajectories of marital attitudes across adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39, 1305–1317.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Willoughby, B. J., & Carroll, J. S. (2010). Sexual experience and couple formation attitudes among emerging adults. Journal of Adult Development, 17, 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Willoughby, B., Carroll, J., Vitas, J., & Hill, L. (2011). “When are you getting married?”: The intergenerational transmission of attitudes regarding marital timing and marital importance. Journal of Family Issues, 32, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Willoughby, B. J., & Dworkin, J. D. (2009). The relationships between emerging adults’ expressed desire to marry and frequency of participation in risk behaviors. Youth and Society, 40, 426–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Willoughby, B., Hall, S., & Luczak, H. (2013). Marital paradigms: A conceptual framework for marital attitudes, values and beliefs. Journal of Family Issues,. doi:10.1177/0192513X13487677.Google Scholar
  42. Willoughby, B., Olson, C., Carroll, J., Nelson, L., & Miller, R. (2012). Sooner or later? The marital horizons of parents and their emerging adult children. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 29(7), 967–981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Todd M. Jensen
    • 1
  • Brian J. Willoughby
    • 2
  • Thomas B. Holman
    • 2
  • Dean M. Busby
    • 2
  • Kevin Shafer
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.School of Family LifeBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  3. 3.School of Social WorkBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

Personalised recommendations