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Parenthood and Marital Satisfaction: A Meta Analytic Review. Authors: J.M. Twenge, W. Campbell, & C. Foster Presented by: Chris Farnum. Parenthood and Satisfaction Purpose. To determine the extent of the effects of parenthood on marital satisfaction.

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Parenthood and Marital Satisfaction: A Meta Analytic Review

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Parenthood and marital satisfaction a meta analytic review l.jpg

Parenthood and Marital Satisfaction: A Meta Analytic Review

Authors: J.M. Twenge, W. Campbell, & C. Foster

Presented by: Chris Farnum


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Parenthood and SatisfactionPurpose

  • To determine the extent of the effects of parenthood on marital satisfaction.

    • Exactly how large is the effect of parenthood?

    • What variables determine the effect of children on satisfaction?

    • Address theoretical models


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Parenthood and SatisfactionImplications

  • Informed decisions

  • Counseling

  • Counteract effects


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Parenthood and SatisfactionIssues to Consider

  • Measuring satisfaction is subjective. Tests used were Locke-Wallace, Global Distress, and Dyadic Adjustment Scale

  • Stressors present in marriage prior to having children

  • Differences in male/female definitions of marital satisfaction


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Parenthood and SatisfactionModerator Variables

  • Gender of the parents

  • Age of children

  • Socioeconomic status of parents

  • Birth Cohort

  • Measure of marital satisfaction used


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Parenthood and SatisfactionTheoretical Models

  • Addressing different explanations of children’s influence on marital satisfaction

  • Identified four key theories from research

  • Different outcomes men and women


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Theoretical ModelsRole Conflict Model

  • This theory states that adding children can lead to a reorganization of roles and this causes stress.

  • Women

  • Problems

  • Predictions for moderator variables


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Theoretical ModelsRestriction of Freedom

  • Children greatly diminish the freedom of individuals in a marriage

  • Women

  • Moderator variables and predictions


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Theoretical ModelsSexual Dissatisfaction Model

  • Children often interfere with parents’ sex lives.

  • Differences in male and female interpretations

  • Moderator variables


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Theoretical ModelsFinancial Cost Model

  • Children are expensive.

  • Moderator variables and predictions


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Parenthood and SatisfactionLiterature Review

  • 1974-2000

    • PsychLit and Sociofile journal articles

    • Reference sections of journal articles

    • Dissertation abstracts

    • Total of 97 articles with 148 data points

    • 47,692 total respondents

    • Keywords: children and marital satisfaction


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Parenthood and SatisfactionLiterature Review

  • Examined two types of studies:

    • Comparison of satisfaction between married couples with and without children

    • Examination of correlation between satisfaction and number of children

  • Criteria for Inclusion:

    • Must have sample with parents and non-parents

    • Must report statistics that can be used to calculate an effect size (d)


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Parenthood and SatisfactionCalculation Standards

  • Corrected for bias in “d” with two techniques

  • Positive effect sizes

  • Negative effect sizes


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Parenthood and SatisfactionAnalyses

  • Weighted effect sizes

  • Computed effect sizes and heterogeneity statistic

  • Analyzed overall and for specific moderators

  • ANOVA


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Results of Meta AnalysisComparing Parents to Non-Parents

  • Parents had significantly lower marital satisfaction than non-parents (d = -.19)

  • Stronger negative effect on women

    (-.19 vs. -.13)

  • Age moderator

    • Infant = -.38

    • Older child = -.20

  • Gender by age moderator- bigger difference for women

    • Women = with infant (-.50) vs. w/older (-.14)

    • Men = with infant (-.25) vs. w/older (-.30)

  • SES moderator

    • High (-.45) vs. Low (+.05)

  • Historical and birth cohort effects

    (d = -.42)


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Results of the Meta AnalysisComparing Parents to Non-Parents

  • Theoretical Models

    • Role Conflict **

    • Restriction of Freedom**

    • Sexual Dissatisfaction

    • Financial Cost


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Results of the Meta AnalysisCorrelation Between Satisfaction and Number of Children

  • Results indicate the more children in the family, the lower the parents’ marital satisfaction (d = -.13)

  • Gender, age, and birth cohort- no significance

  • SES

    • Stronger effect sizes for high (d = -.26) and low SES (d = -.28)

    • Weaker effect size for middle SES (d = -.08)

  • Correlation between the effect size and the year of data collection (d = -.31, p<.01)

  • Theoretical Models- no support


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Variablek d


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Results of the Meta AnalysisSummary of Moderator Variables

  • The transition to parenthood

  • Gender

  • Socioeconomic status

  • Birth Cohort

  • Measurement


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Parenthood and SatisfactionStrengths and Limitations

  • Strengths

    • Large body of research

  • Limitations

    • Not enough data to compare parents with one child vs. parents with two vs. parents with three

    • Primarily correlational studies


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Parenthood and SatisfactionConclusions

  • This information can help couples set expectations or make structural changes.

  • Drop in satisfaction can be offset by other gains

  • Caution


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Parenthood and SatisfactionPersonal Observations

  • Implications for counseling?

  • Child preparation classes


  • Login