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Perceived Responsibility for Marital Events: Egocentric or Partner-Centric Bias?

Frank D. Fincham and Thomas N. Bradbury
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 51, No. 1 (Feb., 1989), pp. 27-35
DOI: 10.2307/352365
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352365
Page Count: 9
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Perceived Responsibility for Marital Events: Egocentric or Partner-Centric Bias?
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Abstract

Two studies were conducted to investigate (a) the association between marital satisfaction and an egocentric bias in spouses' perceived contributions to activities in marriage; (b) the robustness of this bias; and (c) the process that might underlie such a bias. In the first study 40 spouses estimated their own and their partners' contribution to relationship events. Spouses claimed to make greater contributions to negative relationship events than their partners were willing to attribute to them. This finding was replicated in a second study involving 50 spouses, and the opposite bias was also documented: for positive events greater contributions were assigned to the partner. In addition, Study 2 examined two hypotheses that may account for the egocentric bias, namely, the failure to take the perspective of the partner and the ease with which memories are recalled. No support was obtained for the perspective-taking hypothesis, and the data were equivocal regarding the ease-of-recall hypothesis. In both studies perceived contributions and marital satisfaction were strongly related. The findings are discussed in terms of the effect of a spouse's global sentiment toward the partner on his or her judgments of responsibility.

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