Publication Date

1995

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Department

Department of Psychology

LCSH

Married people--Psychology||Communication--Sex differences||Marriage--Psychological aspects||Empathy||Satisfaction

Abstract

Research suggests that as individuals age, sex-role behaviors become less pronounced, resulting in increasingly androgynous behavior patterns in both men and women. One change involves an increase in traditional feminine behavior patterns in aging men, most notably an increase in empathy. If men become more empathic as they age, it is plausible that this would have an impact on their marital interactions. This study assessed differences in empathy in married men in two age groups (40 - 55 years of age and 60 - 75 years of age), and evaluated the effect these differences have on both the communication patterns within marital dyads and on global marital satisfaction. It was predicted that older husbands would rate themselves as more empathic than younger husbands, and that this difference would also be evident in wives' ratings of husbands' empathy. It was also predicted that levels of husband empathy would be positively correlated with both positive marital communication patterns and global reports of marital satisfaction by both spouses. Forty middle-aged couples and 40 older couples were surveyed regarding husbands' levels of empathy, positive communication patterns within the marriage, and global levels of marital satisfaction. Consistent with earlier research, the results support the theory that men become more empathic as they age. In addition, results indicate that the level of male empathy is positively correlated with positive verbal interaction within the marital dyad, as well as global marital satisfaction. Husbands and wives showed significant agreement regarding all three variables. These findings have implications for understanding gender related social behavior across the lifespan. The findings also have implications for improved understanding of marital relationships as couples age, and for the assessment and treatment of marital discord.

Comments

Includes bibliographical references (pages [44]-50)

Extent

iv, 71 pages

Language

eng

Publisher

Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type

Text

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