Sex Role Attitudes in Dating and Marriage: A 15-Year Follow-Up of the Boston Couples Study


  • Letitia Anne Peplau,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of California, Los Angeles
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      LETITIA ANNE PEPLAU is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and President-Elect of the International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships. In recent years she has served at UCLA as the acting Director of the Center for the Study of Women and as Director of the Graduate Program in Social Psychology. The co-author of both introductory and social psychology texts, she co-edited the 1977 JSI issue on Sexual Behavior.

  • Charles T. Hill,

    1. Whittier College
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      CHARLES T. HILL received his Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University in 1975. He is now Professor of Psychology at Whittier College. His research interests include close relationships, sex roles, and research methodology.

  • Zick Rubin

    1. Brandeis University
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      ZICK RUBIN, who received his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Michigan, is Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Brandeis University and a practicing lawyer. He has published three books on close relationships (Liking and Loving, Children's Friendships, and Relationships and Development) as well as a 1993 introductory text, Psychology. In recent years he has pursued links between psychology and legal issues, including testimonial privilege, defamation, copyright and trademark law, and jury selection.

Department of Psychology, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90024–1563.


This longitudinal research investigated the personal and relationship correlates of sex role attitudes first during college and then 15 years later. The original sample of 231 college-age dating couples was studied intensively in 1972–1974, and individual participants were recontacted in 1986–1987. Results provide evidence for the reliability and validity of the 10-item Sex-Role Traditionalism Scale. In college, significant links were found between sex role attitudes and dating relationships, including patterns of self-disclosure, power, and cohabition, but not relationship satisfaction. Fifteen years later, sex role attitudes assessed while in college were largely unrelated to general patterns of marriage, childbearing, and employment for either sex, but did predict women's educational attainment and the long-term outcome of the college romances.