MARITAL STRESS: A REPLICATION WITH MARITAL DYADS
This study explored the question of what unit of analysis is most appropriate for research aimed at gaining insights into factors influencing marital quality. The problem was addressed in a partial replication of Pearlin's "Status Inequality and Stress in Marriage" (1975). In contrast to Pearlin's study in which the sampling unit was the individual, the sampling unit for the replication was the marital dyad. Consequently, comparison of findings based on three levels of analysis--the individual, the individual as a member of the dyad, and the dyad--was possible. Five hundred six married couples completed the self-administered questionnaire. Respondents were recruited though a judgment sample of community organizations (service clubs, church groups, and professional associations) in a southeastern Pennsylvania county in 1977-78. Analysis suggests that spouses' experiences in and perceptions of their marriages differ rather markedly. If the focus is on marital relations and refined measures of properties of the dyad, a distorted view of the relationship might be obtained if responses are elicited from only one spouse. Data also suggest that the individual's perceptions and experiences in the marriage are influenced by the spouses's perceptions and experiences. Methodological problems encountered were difficulties in obtaining responses from both husband and wife, a sample of married couples too small to permit complex analysis at the dyad level, and the need for measures which retain information about the husband's and the wife's views. Typologies were developed as an example of such measures. Although research based on information collected from both husband and wife pose methodological problems, the replication points clearly to the conclusion that quantitative research on marriage should focus on the married individual in the context of the marriage or on the marital dyad. If the interest is in the married individual, more insights will be gained if the individual is viewed as a partner in a marital relationship; if the marital relationship is the center of attention, the appropriate level of analysis is the dyad. These findings have importance for exploring such issues of current concerns as "his" and "her" marriage, working wives and marriage, and midlife transitions.