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Changes in Attributions of Marital Problems

James A. McRae, Jr. and Janet A. Kohen
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 51, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 74-80
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2786986
Page Count: 7
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Changes in Attributions of Marital Problems
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Abstract

Attribution theory suggests that attributions of personal responsibility are less likely to be made when forces external to individuals are believed to be important. Data from national samples collected in 1957 and 1976 indicate a reluctance to attribute marital problems to oneself and a decreased tendency to attribute them to one's spouse; the decrease was especially pronounced among divorced repondents in describing previous marriages, although this differential change led to only a partial convergence of the married and the divorced. In both years, mentions of spouse are less frequent among those groups most exposed to secular forces: men, the young, and the better educated. This finding suggests that the decreased frequency of attributing responsibility to the spouse is due to the secularization of marital values. Further evidence for this perspective is obtained from the relationship of spousal blame with the frequency of church attendance.

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