Behavior Genetics

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 209–223 | Cite as

Gender Differences in the Structure of Marital Quality

  • Christopher R. Beam
  • Katherine Marcus
  • Eric Turkheimer
  • Robert E. Emery
Original Research


Marriages consist of shared experiences and interactions between husbands and wives that may lead to different impressions of the quality of the relationship. Few studies, unfortunately, have tested gender differences in the structure of marital quality, and even fewer studies have evaluated whether genetic and environmental influences on marital quality differ across gender. In this study, we evaluated gender differences in the structure of marital quality using independent samples of married male (n = 2406) and married female (n = 2215) participants from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States who provided ratings on twenty-eight marital quality items encompassing six marital quality constructs. We further explored gender differences in genetic and environmental influences on marital quality constructs in a subsample of 491 pairs of twins. Results suggest partial metric invariance across gender but structural variability in marital quality constructs. Notably, correlations between constructs were stronger in women than men. Results also support gender differences in the genetic and environmental influences on different aspects of marital quality. We discuss that men and women may approach and react to marriage differently as the primary reason why we observed differences in the structure of marital quality.


Marital quality Gender differences Psychometric Structural equation modeling Behavioral genetics 



Funding was provided by the National Institute on Aging (US) (Grant Nos. F31AG044047-01A1, T32AG020500), Institut National des Sciences de l'Univers, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (FR), and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (US) (Grant No. 1R01HD056354-0).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Christopher R. Beam, Katherine Marcus, Eric Turkheimer, Robert E. Emery declare that they have no competing interests.

Informed consent

This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the University of Virginia.

Human and animal rights

No experimental animals were used in the study.

Supplementary material

10519_2018_9892_MOESM1_ESM.docx (559 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 558 KB)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  3. 3.University of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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