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Marital Status and the Meaning of Subjective Well-Being: A Structural Analysis

Helen Weingarten and Fred B. Bryant
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 49, No. 4 (Nov., 1987), pp. 883-892
DOI: 10.2307/351981
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/351981
Page Count: 10
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Marital Status and the Meaning of Subjective Well-Being: A Structural Analysis
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Abstract

The impact of marital status on how people organize and interpret subjective experience was investigated by comparing national survey responses of first-married, divorced, and remarried adults. A three-stage confirmatory factor analysis procedure was used to examine how individuals in different marital status groups structure judgments about personal well-being, to compare these organizational structures across groups, and to clarify the nature of any variations found. With the use of a six-factor model empirically validated to describe the general population (Bryant and Veroff, 1984) as a comparative baseline, the notion that the meaning of similar responses to questions of well-being varies according to one's marital status was supported. The way that first-married, divorced, and remarried respondents structure their subjective evaluations differed significantly not only from one another on four of the six dimensions but also, except for first-married respondents, from the general population pattern as well. Specifically, whereas divorce was associated with an increased emphasis on future morale in defining present happiness, remarriage was associated with increased emphasis on the quality of ongoing role relationships in defining present gratification.

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