Monday, March 26, 2018

Citations for Tests of the Inertia Hypothesis about the Timing of Cohabitation and Marital Outcomes

This post is to provide citations relevant for some of the work Galena Rhoades and I (and colleagues) have conducted on the subject of premarital cohabitation, specifically, the prediction of a timing effect related to when couples moved in together and marital outcomes. 

Before any of these studies were conducted, we predicted that couples who cohabited only after engagement (or marriage) would, on average, do better in marriage than those who began to cohabit prior to having such clear, mutual plans to marry. This is the inertia hypothesis. It specifies that part of the risk associated with living together before marriage is that it makes it harder to break up (it increases constraints)--for some couples, prematurely. Thus, among those who marry, couples who started living together before already having mutual plans to marry will be, on average, at greater risk for poor outcomes in marriage because these couples made it harder to break up before clearly deciding they agreed on a future together. Put another way, the inertia risk is that constraints to remain together develop ahead of a mutual and high commitment to a future together. There should be less risk when dedication is mutual and clear, prior the increase in constraints that comes with moving in together.

The theory behind this is explained in great depth in the citations under “theory” below.

This prediction has found support in every place where we know it possible to test, including findings in 8 studies using 7 different samples. It is a strong hypothesis based on decades of research and theory about aspects of commitment, and it has a lot of evidence of replication. 

For a non-technical summary of this line of reasoning, click here.

For an annotated summary of our research on cohabitation, including abstracts and thinking from study to study, click here.  [This is like a walking tour through our line of research on this issue and related subjects.]
My goal here is to give easy access to relevant citations. Where possible, I give links that provide access to the entire article.

Theoretical Papers

The first paper below is the core citation where we lay out the most detail about the risk of inertia and its implications. The second paper is the first major test of the theory and provides a great deal of background about it.  The third paper is a general overview of the construct of commitment, its role in securing romantic attachment, and then a detailed application of ideas related to dedication, constraint, and signaling in the way two people develop a commitment to a future together.  

Stanley, S. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2006). Sliding vs. Deciding: Inertia and the premarital cohabitation effect. Family Relations, 55, 499-509.
Kline, G. H., Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J., Olmos-Gallo, P. A., St. Peters, M., Whitton, S. W., & Prado, L. (2004). Timing is everything: Pre-engagement cohabitation and increased risk for poor marital outcomes. Journal of Family Psychology, 18, 311-318.  [Kline is now Rhoades.]

Stanley, S. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Whitton, S. W. (2010). Commitment: Functions, formation, and the securing of romantic attachment. Journal of Family Theory and Review, 2, 243-257.

Empirical Findings for the Engagement (marriage plans) Effect

Kline, G. H., Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J., Olmos-Gallo, P. A., St. Peters, M., Whitton, S. W., & Prado, L. (2004). Timing is everything: Pre-engagement cohabitation and increased risk for poor marital outcomes. Journal of Family Psychology, 18, 311-318.

Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2009). The pre-engagement cohabitation effect: A replication and extension of previous findings. Journal of Family Psychology, 23, 107-111.

Stanley, S. M., Rhoades, G. K., Amato, P. R., Markman, H. J., & Johnson, C. A. (2010). The timing of cohabitation and engagement: Impact on first and second marriages. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 906-918.

Goodwin, P. Y., Mosher, W. D., & Chandra, A. (2010). Marriage and cohabitation in the United States: A statistical portrait based on Cycle 6(2002) of the National Survey of Family Growth. Vital Health Stat 23 (28). Washington D.C.: National Center for Health Statistics.

Manning, W. D., & Cohen, J. A. (2012). Premarital cohabitation and marital dissolution: An examination of recent marriages. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74, 377 - 387.
[This study has a complicated variant of the marriage plans finding regarding premarital cohabitation.]

Rhoades, G. K., and Stanley, S. M. (2014). Before “I Do”: What do premarital experiences have to do with marital quality among today’s young adults? Charlottesville, VA: National Marriage Project.

Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J., & Allen, E. S. (2015). Can marriage education mitigate the risks associated with premarital cohabitation? Journal of Family Psychology, 29(3), 500-506. 
Stanley, S. M., & Rhoades, G. K. (2023). What's the plan? Cohabitation, engagement, and divorce. Institute for Family Studies: Charlottesville, VA.

Related Findings (to inertia or cohabitation in general)

The study that kicked off a lot of interest in possibility that cohabitation led some men to marry women they might not have otherwise married, and thoughts about asymmetrical commitment.

- Stanley, S. M., Whitton, S. W., & Markman, H. J. (2004). Maybe I do: Interpersonal commitment and premarital or nonmarital cohabitation. Journal of Family Issues, 25, 496-519.

Constraints predict remaining together net of how dedicated people are to their relationship. 

- Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2010).  Should I stay or should I go? Predicting dating relationship stability from four aspects of commitment. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(5), 543-550.  doi: 10.1037/a0021008

Constraints take a jump up in the transition to moving in together, and start to increase rapidly. 

- Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2012). The impact of the transition to cohabitation on relationship functioning: Cross-sectional and longitudinal findings. Journal of Family Psychology, 26(3), 348 - 358.

Living together before marriage or engagement is associated with asymmetrical commitment between partners, and it does not abate once married. 

- Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J. (2006). Pre-engagement cohabitation and gender asymmetry in marital commitment. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 553-560.

And, a bit more on asymmetrical commitment which includes a few points about cohabitation (not broken down by timing of plans for marriage). 

- Stanley, S. M., Rhoades, G. K., Scott, S. B., Kelmer, G., Markman, H. J., & Fincham, F. D. (2017). Asymmetrically committed relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 34, 1241–1259. 

On asymmetrical commitment studies, see also this post

This next study examines reasons people give for living together. One finding: Just about the worst, top answer someone can have for moving in together seems to be to test the relationship. That's associated with poor outcomes. Probably, people who report this as the main reason already know something concerning about their partner or the relationship, and they are moving in hoping to get a better answer.

- Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2009). Couples' reasons for cohabitation: Associations with individual well-being and relationship quality. Journal of Family Issues, 30, 233 - 258.

On reasons for cohabiting, see also this post

We have more studies that include findings on cohabitation. Contact me if interested. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Journal of Family Psychology Special Issue on Military Familly and Deployment

Here are links to the February 2018 issue of the Journal of Family Psychology. The links I have included are all the ones pertinent to military families. You can access the abstracts here with the links provided. 

Journal of Family Psychology Volume 32, Issue 1, (Feb)

Page 1-2
Sayers, Steven L.; Rhoades, Galena K.

Page 3-11
Sayers, Steven L.; Barg, Frances K.; Mavandadi, Shahrzad; Hess, Tanya H.; Crauciuc, Andreea

Page 12-21
Knobloch, Leanne K.; Knobloch-Fedders, Lynne M.; Yorgason, Jeremy B.

Page 22-30
Carter, Sarah P.; Osborne, Laura J.; Renshaw, Keith D.; Allen, Elizabeth S.; Loew, Benjamin A.; Markman, Howard J.; Stanley, Scott M.

Page 31-41
Balderrama-Durbin, Christina; Erbes, Christopher R.; Polusny, Melissa A.; Vogt, Dawne

Page 42-48
Wilson, Steven R.; Marini, Christina M.; Franks, Melissa M.; Whiteman, Shawn D.; Topp, Dave; Wadsworth, Shelley MacDermid

Page 114-122
Miller, Katherine E.; Koffel, Erin; Kramer, Mark D.; Erbes, Christopher R.; Arbisi, Paul A.; Polusny, Melissa A.

Page 123-133
Chesmore, Ashley A.; Piehler, Timothy F.; Gewirtz, Abigail H.

Page 134-144
Allen, Elizabeth; Knopp, Kayla; Rhoades, Galena; Stanley, Scott; Markman, Howard