Monday, March 11, 2013

Does Relationship/Marriage Education Work with Participants who have Low Incomes and/or with Minority Participants?

Note to usual readers of my blog. On 3-11-13, I posted an unusually long blog entry regarding an ongoing discussion among researchers and policy experts about the usefulness and impacts of relationship education services provided to couples who are economically disadvantaged or to couples of color. A colleague who is also a couple/marital researcher, Matthew Johnson, wrote a piece published last year (2012) in the American Psychologist wherein he suggested that the results of two large federal studies demonstrated that relationship education efforts were ineffective. He suggested that this may have been due, in part, to many of the couples in the studies having characteristics different from couples who have been studied more heavily in this field. Johnson made a reasonable call for more research to inform the field in working with couples who are disadvantaged. However, a number of researchers (including me) took issue with other suggestions and points made by Johnson. While we agreed with the wisdom in the call for more research, we took issue with aspects of Johnson's arguments. For example, we suggested that there was growing evidence that such relationship education interventions may be as--or even more--effective with the very couples Johnson suggested were not benefiting because of inadequate research. 

The long post that I wrote on all of this is now included in a document that can be downloaded. The document includes the links to Johnson's original paper, the comment by a number of other researchers (including me) on his paper, and a reply by Johnson to our comment. The document also includes a link to a very helpful chapter on the subject by Alan Hawkins. My post on all of this is long and technical, and I have now moved it from the main stream of blog entries here to the document that you can download here.