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Publication Date


Document Type



School for Social Work


Marital conflict, Marital conflict-Psychological aspects, Marital conflict-Prevention, Marital conflict-Treatment, Conflict management, Emotions, Attachment behavior, Couples conflict, Attachment, Emotional regulation, Change, Common factors


Utilizing a systems framework, I explored whether changes in marital conflict could be understood as being related to specific variables, clustered into factors, associated with attachment and emotional regulation theories. This study adds to the nascent literature on common factors related to psychotherapeutic change in couples; its value also lies in its being conducted outside of a marital laboratory and within a diverse, working class, community-based setting. The Supporting Father Involvement (SFI) study, from which the data were collected, was a 16-week prevention-oriented parenting intervention for high risk couples. The findings in this study validate and expand upon current research supporting the connections between closeness in marriage, capacities to regulate emotions, and degrees of marital conflict. First, conclusions support the approach of grouping variables into factors. Second, a unique finding was that couples in this study can be grouped into three distinct cohorts with respect to conflict, each with different change trajectories, before, immediately following, and 12 months post-intervention. Post intervention all three groups demonstrated low to moderate conflict. Third, Dyadic Closeness, Avoidant Attachment Style From Childhood, and Emotional Reactivity predicted membership in the medium and high conflict groups in this study. The multiple perspective research design in this study yielded significant results that will be valuable to clinicians and researchers in helping to bridge the gap between practice and research.




vi, 129 p. Dissertation (Ph.D.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 99-124)