Who Are the Marital Experts?

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Abstract

We asked whether professional training or personal experience with marriage predicted accuracy in judging (a) marital satisfaction and (b) marital stability. Nine groups of participants viewed 3-minute videotaped conversations of 10 married couples and rated each on level of marital satisfaction and whether they were likely to divorce in the future. Group differences were found in accuracy of marital satisfaction judgments. Those for whom marriage held high personal meaning (satisfied and dissatisfied long-term marriages, newlyweds, recent divorcé[e]s), as rated by a panel of judges, were more accurate than those with professional training (pastoral counselors, clinical psychology graduate students, marital therapists, marital researchers). Neither professional training nor personal experience was associated with the ability to predict divorce.

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