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Levi Long
Levi Long

Stability And Change In Relationships !!BETTER!!

Although couples' management of differences and problems is widely assumed to be central to the course and outcome of their relationships, some theoretical perspectives hold that marital conflicts increase over the newlywed years, whereas others maintain that couples' problems remain stable. We tested these opposing views by examining changes in marital problems and marital satisfaction over the first 4 years of marriage in a sample of 169 newlywed couples. Although marital satisfaction declined on average, overall levels of marital problems remained stable. Analyses of 19 specific problems generally revealed considerable stability as well, although husbands and wives rated showing affection as increasingly problematic over time. These findings challenge longstanding assumptions regarding the role of accumulating conflict in marital functioning over time and suggest that specific and overall problems in marriage largely remain stable over the newlywed years. Implications for theory and clinical practice are discussed.

Stability and Change in Relationships

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Relationship schemas are core elements of personality that guide interpersonal functioning. The aim of this study is to examine stability and change in relationship schemas across two developmental epochs-adolescence and young adulthood-in the stories that people tell about their interactions with others. Using the Core Conflictual Relationship Theme Method, relationship themes were coded from semistructured interviews conducted in adolescence and again at age 25. The sample consisted of 40 participants in a longitudinal study of adolescent and young adult psychological development. There was considerable stability in the frequency with which particular themes were expressed in the narratives of adolescents and young adults. Significant changes from adolescence to young adulthood included a decrease in the perception of others as rejecting and of the self as opposing others. Young adults saw themselves and others more positively, and used a broader repertoire of themes in their relationship narratives than they had as adolescents. The basic continuity and particular changes in relationship schemas found in this study are consistent with knowledge about the adolescent-to-young-adult transition derived from other empirical and clinical findings. Relationship schemas may be rich units of study for learning about the development of interpersonal functioning.

Crosscutting concepts have application across all domains of science. As such, they are a way of linking the different domains of science. They include patterns; cause and effect; scale, proportion, and quantity; systems and system models; energy and matter; structure and function; and stability and change. The Framework emphasizes that these concepts need to be made explicit for students because they provide an organizational schema for interrelating knowledge from various science fields into a coherent and scientifically based view of the world.

In considering phenomena, it is critical to recognize what is relevant at different size, time, and energy scales, and to recognize proportional relationships between different quantities as scales change.

Personality psychology is about how individuals differ from each other in their characteristic ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Some of the most interesting questions about personality attributes involve issues of stability and change. Are shy children destined to become shy adults? Are the typical personality attributes of adults different from the typical attributes of adolescents? Do people become more self-controlled and better able to manage their negative emotions as they become adults? What mechanisms explain personality stability and what mechanisms account for personality change?

Something frustrating happens when you attempt to learn about personality stability[1]: As with many topics in psychology, there are a number of different ways to conceptualize and quantify personality stability (e.g., Caspi & Bem, 1990; Roberts, Wood, & Caspi, 2008). This means there are multiple ways to consider questions about personality stability. Thus, the simple (and obviously frustrating) way to respond to most blanket questions about personality stability is to simply answer that it depends on what one means by personality stability. To provide a more satisfying answer to questions about stability, I will first describe the different ways psychologists conceptualize and evaluate personality stability. I will make an important distinction between heterotypic and homotypic stability. I will then describe absolute and differential stability, two ways of considering homotypic stability. I will also draw your attention to the important concept of individual differences in personality development.

Absolute stability refers to the consistency of the level of the same personality attribute across time. If an individual received a score of 45 on a hypothetical measure of stress reaction at age 20 and at age 40, researchers would conclude there was evidence of absolute stability. Questions about absolute stability can be considered at the group level or the individual level. At the group level, it is common for personality researchers to compare average scores on personality measures for groups of different ages. For example, it is possible to investigate whether the average 40-year-old adult has a lower (or higher) level of stress reaction than the average 20-year-old. The answer to this question would tell researchers something about typical patterns of personality development.

Absolute Stability. There are two common ways to investigate average levels of personality attributes at different ages. The simplest approach is to conduct a cross-sectional study and compare different age groups on a given attribute assessed at the same time. For instance, researchers might collect data from a sample of individuals ranging in age from 18 to 99 years and compare stress reaction scores for groups of different ages. A more complicated design involves following the same group of individuals and assessing their personalities at multiple time points (often two). This is a longitudinal study,and it is a much better way to study personality stability than a cross-sectional study. If all of the individuals in the sample are roughly the same age at the start of the study, they would all be considered members of the same birth cohort. One of the chief drawbacks of a cross-sectional study is that individuals who are of different ages are also members of different birth cohorts. Thus, researchers have no way of knowing whether any personality differences observed in a cross-sectional study are attributable to the influence of age per se or birth cohort. A longitudinal study is better able to isolate age effects (i.e., differences in personality related to maturation and development) from cohort effects (i.e., differences in personality related to being born at a particular point in history) than a cross-sectional study. Cohort is a constant (i.e., an unchanging value) in a longitudinal study when all participants start the study at roughly the same age.

A number of large-scale, cross-sectional studies have evaluated age differences in personality (Anusic, Lucas, & Donnellan, 2012; Lucas & Donnellan, 2009; McCrae & Costa, 2003; Soto, John, Gosling, & Potter, 2011; Srivastava, John, Gosling, & Potter, 2003) as have a number of longitudinal studies (Lucas & Donnellan, 2011; Specht, Egloff, & Schmukle, 2011; Terracciano, McCrae, Brant, & Costa, 2005; Wortman, Lucas, & Donnellan, in press). Fortunately, many of the general trends from these different designs converge on the same basic set of findings. Most notably, Roberts, Walton, and Viechtbauer (2006) combined the results of 92 longitudinal studies to provide an overview of absolute changes in personality across the lifespan. They used the Big Five taxonomy (e.g., John, Naumann, & Soto, 2008) to categorize the different personality attributes examined in the individual studies to make sense of the vast literature.

In general, average levels of extraversion (especially the attributes linked to self-confidence and independence), agreeableness, and conscientiousness appear to increase with age whereas neuroticism appears to decrease with age (Roberts et al., 2006). Openness also declines with age, especially after mid-life (Roberts et al., 2006). These changes are often viewed as positive trends given that higher levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness and lower levels of neuroticism are associated with seemingly desirable outcomes such as increased relationship stability and quality, greater success at work, better health, a reduced risk of criminality and mental health problems, and even decreased mortality (e.g., Kotov, Gamez, Schmidt, & Watson, 2010; Miller & Lynam 2001; Ozer & Benet-Martínez, 2006; Roberts, Kuncel, Shiner, Caspi, & Goldberg, 2007). This pattern of positive average changes in personality attributes is known as the maturity principle of adult personality development (Caspi, Roberts, & Shiner, 2005). The basic idea is that attributes associated with positive adaptation and attributes associated with the successful fulfillment of adult roles tend to increase during adulthood in terms of their average levels.

Beyond providing insights into the general outline of adult personality development, Roberts et al. (2006) found that young adulthood (the period between the ages of 18 and the late 20s) was the most active time in the lifespan for observing average changes, although average differences in personality attributes were observed across the lifespan. Such a result might be surprising in light of the intuition that adolescence is a time of personality change and maturation. However, young adulthood is typically a time in the lifespan that includes a number of life changes in terms of finishing school, starting a career, committing to romantic partnerships, and parenthood (Donnellan, Conger, & Burzette, 2007; Rindfuss, 1991). Finding that young adulthood is an active time for personality development provides circumstantial evidence that adult roles might generate pressures for certain patterns of personality development. Indeed, this is one potential explanation for the maturity principle of personality development. 041b061a72


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