The long-term role of newlywed conscientiousness and religiousness in marriage

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Jarvis, Mark Owen

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This dissertation is the third in a series of studies that examine the link between individuals’ personal dispositions and their experiences in marriage. While prior work has focused on the association between dispositions and marital satisfaction, this study focuses on dispositions that are linked to marital stability. Using longitudinal data from a rural sample from Pennsylvania, I examine the association between two qualities—conscientiousness and religiosity—and both the occurrence of and timing of divorce. Additionally, I test whether the associations between these dispositional qualities and divorce are mediated or moderated by newlywed levels of personal commitment or by changes in personal commitment over the first two years of marriage. That is, are dispositional qualities associated with divorce through personal commitment (a mediation mechanism) or in the absence of personal commitment (a moderation mechanism)? The results suggest that the direct effects of religiosity are associated more strongly with the occurrence of divorce, while the direct effects of conscientiousness are associated more strongly with the timing of divorce. Additionally, the occurrence of divorce is predicted by both spouses’ qualities, while the timing of divorce is largely predicted by the husbands’ qualities. The investigations of the mediating/moderating role of personal commitment received little support in these data.