Spouse observation methodology : reports of the impact of spousal behavior



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Behavioral marital researchers and therapists have used spouses themselves as observers of their partners' behavior for more than a decade. Lately, however, several researchers have questioned the basic assumptions underlying spouse observation techniques. The present study attempts to improve spouse observation methodology and reinterpret the data that it provides. Cognitive and communication models of marital interaction are employed to reconceptualize spouse observation reports, and hypotheses derived from these models are investigated. The results of this research indicate that spouse observations are best understood as proximal self-reports of the impact of spousal behavior, and not as objective reports of the actual events that transpire in a marriage. Exploratory analyses of spouses' idiosyncratic interpretations of their partners' behavior also indicate imporatant cognitive processes that are involved in marital functioning. The implications of these findings for marital therapy and research are also discussed.



Marital psychotherapy