THE INSTRUMENTAL AND EXPRESSIVE DOMAINS OF MARITAL COMMUNICATION

Authors

  • MARY ANNE,

    1. Mary Anne Fitipatrick (Ph.D., Temple University, 1976) is associate professor of communication arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706
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  • FITZP ATRICK,

    1. Mary Anne Fitipatrick (Ph.D., Temple University, 1976) is associate professor of communication arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706
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  • JULIE INDVIK

    1. Julie Indvik (M.A., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1978) is a doctoral candidate in communication arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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Abstract

In order to build a descriptive base for a theory of marital communication, a typology of marital relationships has been developed. Using the Relational Dimensions Instrument, nine couple types may be obtained from combinations of three individual-level relational definitions: traditional, independent, and separate. The current study expanded this descriptive base by examining how the instrumental and expressive behavior of the nine couple types differed. This was accomplished by obtaining measures of both normative and perceptual sex-role orientation from a random sample of 224 couples. The results of the study indicated that normatively most of the couple types subscribed to a conventional allocation of instrumental and expressive behavior according to the sex of the partner. Only the Independents clearly supported communication roles based on the personal preferences of the marital partners. Perceptually, most husbands rated their own behavior as primarily instrumental regardless of their couple type. In contrast, wives' self-perceptions of their instrumental and expressive behaviors depended on the type of relationship they had with their husbands.

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