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Monique Brown is a 2014 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University Seattle

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2014

Abstract

This study examined the association between endorsement of benevolent sexism and marital satisfaction in heterosexual marriages, which are perceived as being egalitarian. The goal was to explore how covert power dynamics like those involved in benevolent sexism affect marital satisfaction, and how perceived fairness and decision-making outcomes interact with this relationship. Men and women who have cohabitated with their spouses at least five years were asked to complete measures assessing their endorsement of benevolent sexism and their perceived global marital satisfaction. Participants were also asked to fill out measures examining the mediating effect of perceived fairness and decision-making outcomes. Previous research on marital satisfaction in egalitarian couples has been equivocal. Much research has found that wives in egalitarian marriages tend to be less satisfied, while husbands tend to be more satisfied. Research on Ambivalent Sexism indicates that, very often, both men and women hold favorable views toward women who behave in "gender appropriate" ways. This study did not find a relationship between endorsement of benevolent sexism and marital satisfaction in either men or women, but it did find that perceived fairness was a significant mediator. Benevolent sexism was positively correlated with the perception that division of household labor was fair, despite wives performing a greater share of the burden. Perceived fairness was also strongly correlated to marital satisfaction. Mediation analysis indicated that marital satisfaction was affected by benevolent sexism indirectly through perceived fairness. Though decision-making outcomes were not found to be a mediating variable, a significant relationship was found between endorsement of benevolent sexism and decision-making outcomes. The goal of this research was to explore how covert power dynamics like those involved in benevolent sexism affect marital satisfaction, and how perceived fairness and decision-making outcomes interact with this relationship. This exploration provided valuable insight into how such covert power can be explored in marital therapy to strengthen relationships. The electronic version of this dissertation is at OhioLINK ETD Center www.ohiolink.edu

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