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Intimacy in young adulthood as a predictor of divorce in midlife


  • Mark I. Weinberger, Department of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College; Yariv Hofstein, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Mark I. Weinberger, Weill Cornell Medical College, Department of Psychiatry, 21 Bloomingdale Road, White Plains, NY 10605, e-mail:


Using an Eriksonian-based measure (E. H. Erikson, 1963), the Inventory of Psychosocial Development (A. Constantinople, 1969), this longitudinal U.S. study explored the extent to which an individual’s potential for intimacy in young adulthood predicted divorce by midlife. Intimacy was defined as the potential to establish close relationships involving high levels of communication, closeness, and commitment. Marital status 34 years after college graduation was obtained from 167 participants (M age = 55.1 years, 60% male, 30% divorced) originally tested in college in 1966–1968 in the United States. Hierarchical logistic regression revealed a significant Gender × Intimacy interaction in predicting marital status at midlife. Women but not men with low intimacy in college had higher risk of divorce in midlife in the sample.