Advertisement

Prevention Science

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 227–239 | Cite as

Mechanisms of Change in a Cognitive Behavioral Couples Prevention Program: Does Being Naughty or Nice Matter?

  • Scott M. Stanley
  • Galena K. Rhoades
  • P. Antonio Olmos-Gallo
  • Howard J. Markman
Article

Abstract

Although there is a body of evidence suggesting beneficial effects of premarital prevention, little research directly examines the mechanisms of effect. One study that examined changes in communication following training in the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) found that, although couples made the expected communication gains pre to post PREP, female gains in positive communication were paradoxically associated with worse, not better, outcomes (Schilling et al., J. Fam. Psychol. 17(1):41–53, 2003). Using two samples, the current investigation did not yield evidence of such an association. We discuss issues related to replication studies (e.g., failure to reject null hypotheses), challenges in analyzing and interpreting dyadic data, and implications for prevention.

Keywords

Prevention Marriage Communication Couples 

Notes

Acknowledgement

We thank the anonymous reviewers for their excellent questions and comments. This research was supported by two grants from The National Institutes of Health: 1RO1HD48780-1A1 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and 5-RO1-MH35525-12 from The National Institute of Mental Health.

References

  1. Amato, P. R. (2000). The consequences of divorce for adults and children. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62(4), 1269–1287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Atkins, D. C. (2005). Using multilevel models to analyze couple and family treatment data: Basic and advanced issues. Journal of Family Psychology, 19(1), 98–110.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baucom, D. H., Epstein, N. B., Burnett, C. K., & Rankin, L. A. (1993). Conflict in marriage: A cognitive/behavioral formulation. In S. Worchel & J. A. Simpson (Eds.), Conflict between people and groups: Causes, processes, and resolutions. (pp. 7–29). Chicago, IL: Nelson-Hall.Google Scholar
  4. Baucom, D. H., Hahlweg, K., Atkins, D. C., Engl, J., & Thurmaier, F. (2006). Long-term prediction of marital quality following a relationship education program: Being positive in a constructive way. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 448–455.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baumeister, R. F., Bratslavsky, E., Finkenauer, C., & Vohs, K. D. (2001). Bad is stronger than good. Review of General Psychology, 5, 323–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carroll, J. S., & Doherty, W. J. (2003). Evaluating the effectiveness of premarital prevention programs: A meta-analytic review of outcome research. Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies, 52(2), 105–118.Google Scholar
  7. Clements, M. L., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2004). Before they said “I do”: Discriminating among marital outcomes over 13 years based on premarital data. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 66, 613–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohen, J., & Cohen, P. (1983). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  9. Coie, J. D., Watt, N. F., West, S. G., Hawkins, J. D., Asarnow, J. R., Markman, H. J., et al. (1993). The science of prevention: A conceptual framework and some directions for a national research program. American Psychologist, 48(10), 1013–1022.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crane, D. R., Allgood, S. M., Larson, J. H., & Griffin, W. (1990). Assessing marital quality with distressed and nondistressed couples: A comparison and equivalency table for three frequently used measures. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52(1), 87–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Doss, B. D., Thum, Y. M., Sevier, M., Atkins, D. C., & Christensen, A. (2005). Improving relationships: Mechanisms of change in couple therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73(4), 624–633.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Draper, N., & Smith, H. (1981). Applied regression analysis (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
  13. Fincham, F. D., Stanley, S. M., & Beach, S. R. H. (2007). Transformative processes in marriage: An analysis of emerging trends. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 69(2), 275–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gottman, J. M. (1993). The roles of conflict engagement, escalation, and avoidance in marital interaction: A longitudinal view of five types of couples. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 61(1), 6–15.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gottman, J. M. (1994). What predicts divorce? The relationship between marital processes and marital outcomes. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  16. Gottman, J. M., & Krokoff, L. J. (1989). Marital interaction and satisfaction: A longitudinal view. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57(1), 47–52.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hahlweg, K., Markman, H. J., Thurmaier, F., Engl, J., & Eckert, V. (1998). Prevention of marital distress: Results of a German prospective longitudinal study. Journal of Family Psychology, 12(4), 543–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Halford, W. K., Markman, H. J., Kline, G. H., & Stanley, S. M. (2003). Best practice in couple relationship education. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 29(3), 385–406.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Halford, W. K., Sanders, M. R., & Behrens, B. C. (2001). Can skills training prevent relationship problems in at-risk couples? Four-year effects of a behavioral relationship education program. Journal of Family Psychology, 15(4), 750–768.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Heavey, C. L., Layne, C., & Christensen, A. (1993). Gender and conflict structure in marital interaction: A replication and extension. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 61(1), 16–27.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Huston, T. L., Caughlin, J. P., Houts, R. M., Smith, S. E., & George, L. J. (2001). The connubial crucible: Newlywed years as predictors of marital delight, distress, and divorce. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 237–252.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jacobson, N. S., & Truax, P. (1991). Clinical significance: A statistical approach to defining meaningful change in psychotherapy research. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59(1), 12–19.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Julien, D., Markman, H. J., & Lindahl, K. M. (1989). A comparison of a global and a microanalytic coding system: Implications for future trends in studying interactions. Behavioral Assessment, 11, 81–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (1995). The longitudinal course of marital quality and stability: A review of theory, method, and research. Psychological Bulletin, 118, 3–34.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (1997). Neuroticism, marital interaction, and the trajectory of marital satisfaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(5), 1075–1092.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Keiley, M. K., & Martin, N. C. (2005). Survival analysis in family research. Journal of Family Psychology, 19(1), 142.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kenny, D. A. (1998). Couples, gender, and time: Comments on method. In T. N. Bradbury (Ed.), Developmental course of marital dysfunction (pp. 410–422). Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Kenny, D. A., Kashy, D., & Cook, W. (2006). Dyadic data analysis. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  29. Kline, G. H., Julien, D., Baucom, B., Hartman, S. G., Gilbert, K., Gonzales, T., et al. (2004). The interactional dimensions coding system: A global system for couple interactions. In P. K. Kerig & D. H. Baucom (Eds.), Couple observational coding systems (pp. 113–127). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  30. Locke, H. J., & Wallace, K. M. (1959). Short marital-adjustment and prediction tests: Their reliability and validity. Marriage and Family Living, 21, 251–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lord, F. M. (1967). A paradox in the interpretation of group comparisons. Psychological Bulletin, 68, 304–305.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Markman, H. J. (1981). Prediction of marital distress: A 5-year follow-up. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 49(5), 760–762.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Markman, H. J., & Floyd, F. (1980). Possibilities for the prevention of marital discord: A behavioral perspective. American Journal of Family Therapy, 8(2), 29–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Markman, H. J., Floyd, F. J., Stanley, S. M., & Jamieson, K. (1984). A cognitive-behavioral program for the prevention of marital and family distress: Issues in program development and delivery. In K. Halweg & N. S. Jacobson (Eds.), Marital interaction. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  35. Markman, H. J., Floyd, F. J., Stanley, S. M., & Storaasli, R. D. (1988). Prevention of marital distress: A longitudinal investigation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56(2), 210–217.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Markman, H. J., & Hahlweg, K. (1993). The prediction and prevention of marital distress: An international perspective. Clinical Psychology Review, 13(1), 29–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Markman, H. J., Renick, M. J., Floyd, F. J., Stanley, S. M., & Clements, M. (1993). Preventing marital distress through communication and conflict management training: A four and five year follow-up. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 61, 70–77.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Markman, H. J., Stanley, S. M., Blumberg, S. L., Jenkins, N., & Whiteley, C. (2004). Twelve hours to a great marriage. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  39. Mendenhall, W., & Sincich, T. (2003). A second course in statistics: Regression analysis (6th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  40. Montgomery, D., & Peck, E. (1982). Introduction to linear regression analysis. New York, NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
  41. Notarius, C. I., & Markman, H. J. (1993). We can work it out: Making sense of marital conflict. New York, NY: Putnam.Google Scholar
  42. Notarius, C. I., & Vanzetti, N. (1983). Marital agendas protocol. In E. E. Filsinger (Ed.), Marriage and family assessment: A sourcebook for family therapy (pp. 209–227). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  43. Parke, M., & Ooms, T. (2002). More than a dating service? State activities designed to strengthen and promote marriage (No. 2, Clasp policy brief: Couples and marriage series). Washington D.C.: Center for Law and Social Policy.Google Scholar
  44. Prado, L. M., & Markman, H. J. (1998). For better or worse the second time around: Analyzing the communication patterns of remarried couples. In M. Cox & J. Brookes-Gunn (Eds.), The formation, functioning and stability of families. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  45. Reichardt, C., & Gollob, H. (1986). Satisfying the constraints of causal modeling. In W. K. Trochim (Ed.), Advances in quasi-experimental design and analysis. New directions for program evaluation (vol. 31). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  46. Rogge, R. D., & Bradbury, T. N. (1999). Till violence does us part: The differing roles of communication and aggression in predicting adverse marital outcomes. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67(3), 340–351.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sayers, S. L., Kohn, C. S., & Heavey, C. (1998). Prevention of marital dysfunction: Behavioral approaches and beyond. Clinical Psychology Review, 18(6), 713–744.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schilling, E. A., Baucom, D. H., Burnett, C. K., Allen, E. S., & Ragland, L. (2003). Altering the course of marriage: The effect of PREP communication skills acquisition on couples’ risk of becoming maritally distressed. Journal of Family Psychology, 17(1), 41–53.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Stanley, S. M. (2001). Making a case for premarital education. Family Relations, 50, 272–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Stanley, S. M., Amato, P. R., Johnson, C. A., & Markman, H. J. (2006). Premarital education, marital quality, and marital stability: Findings from a large, random, household survey. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 117–126.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stanley, S. M., Blumberg, S. L., & Markman, H. J. (1999). Helping couples fight for their marriages: The PREP approach. In R. Berger & M. T. Hannah (Eds.), Preventive approaches in couples therapy (pp. 279–303). Philadelphia, PA, US: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  52. Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J., Prado, L. M., Olmos-Gallo, P. A., Tonelli, L., St. Peters, M., et al. (2001). Community-based premarital prevention: Clergy and lay leaders on the front lines. Family Relations, 50(1), 67–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J., & Whitton, S. W. (2002). Communication, conflict and commitment: Insights on the foundations of relationship success from a national survey. Family Process, 41(4), 659–675.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sullivan, K. T., & Bradbury, T. N. (1997). Are premarital prevention programs reaching couples at risk for marital dysfunction? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65(1), 24–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wainer, H. (1991). Adjusting for differential base rates: Lord’s paradox again. Psychological Bulletin, 109(1), 147–151.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Willett, J. B., & Singer, J. D. (1993). Investigating onset, cessation, relapse, and recovery: Why you should, and how you can, use discrete-time survival analysis to examine event occurrence. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 61(6), 952–965.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Woody, E. Z., & Costanzo, P. R. (1990). Does marital agony precede marital ecstasy? A comment on Gottman and Krokoff’s “Marital interaction and satisfaction: A longitudinal view.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 58(4), 499–501.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott M. Stanley
    • 1
  • Galena K. Rhoades
    • 1
  • P. Antonio Olmos-Gallo
    • 1
  • Howard J. Markman
    • 1
  1. 1.The Center for Marital and Family Studies, Department of PsychologyUniversity of DenverDenverUSA

Personalised recommendations