In What Ways Do Gender-Related Attributes and Beliefs Affect Marriage?


  • Ted L. Huston,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Texas
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      TED L. HUSTON is the Amy Johnson McLaughlin Centennial Professor of Psychology and Human Ecology at the University of Texas at Austin and President of the International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships. After receiving his Ph.D. in psychology from the State University of New York at Albany in 1972, he was on faculty at Pennsylvania State University until moving to Texas in 1984. A co-author of the seminal Close Relationships volume, he has made contributions to conceptualizing relationships and developing procedures for gathering data about them.

  • Gilbert Geis

    1. University of California, Irvine
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      GILBERT GEIS is Professor Emeritus, School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine. A former president of the American Society of Criminology, he has received the following research awards: Edwin Sutherland (American Society of Criminology), Richard McGee (American Institute of Justice); Paul Tappan (Western Society of Criminology): and Stephen Schafer (National Organization of Victim Assistance). He recently completed a study of a landmark 17th-century witchcraft trial, which will be published by Yale University Press.

Division of Child Development and Family Relationships, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712.


This article examines spouses' sex role ideology and personality dispositions in connection with marital behavior patterns. It shows that sex role ideology and sex typing in personality are distinct properties, that husbands and wives typically bring to marriage a mixture of gender-related attributes and beliefs that, in turn, create marital behavior patterns that contain a variety of traditional and nontraditional elements. Spouses' sex role attitudes and the extent to which they possess stereotypic personality attributes, such as “masculinity” (instrumentality) and “femininity” (expressiveness), are examined in connection with marital roles, the extent to which spouses communicate positive and negative affect to each other, and the amount of time they spend with friends and family. The results suggest a new direction for studying the intersection of gender and relationships, one that moves beyond simplistic typologies that categorize marriages along a single dimension of traditionalism to one that examines the character and quality of the marriage as it is influenced by (or covaries with) particular gender-related attributes and beliefs.