Predicting satisfaction and stability: A follow-up study of personal and interpersonal factors in relationships

Date of Completion

January 2000


Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies




This study employed personal and interpersonal relationship factors to predict the satisfaction of partners and the stability of couples in a one-year follow-up. The initial sample consisted of 82 college-student couples, of which 61 couples participated at follow-up. Short-term daters, long-term daters, and engaged couples completed a questionnaire at initial assessment and a telephone interview one year later. ^ The three central objectives included examination of the: (a) pattern of correlations among variables within and across assessments, (b) stability of variables over time, and (c) prediction of male and female satisfaction and relationship status at follow-up from measures at initial assessment. Correlations between standard-length and abbreviated measures provided evidence for the construct validity of the abbreviated measures. ^ In comparison with couples still together at follow-up, couples no longer together reported lower levels of satisfaction and of similarity of interest, and higher levels of arguing, as hypothesized. Female partners initially were more satisfied than their partners, but at follow-up, were less satisfied. Male partners showed an increase in satisfaction at follow-up that surpassed their partners' satisfaction. Engaged couples, who reported the highest level of initial satisfaction, reported a lower level of satisfaction at follow-up. Short-term and long-term daters reported an increase in level of satisfaction between initial and follow-up assessment. ^ The predictive model for follow-up level of female satisfaction included male and female initial satisfaction and their interaction. The predictive model for follow-up male satisfaction included male and female initial satisfaction, male and female locus of control, male and female conflict resolution skill, female accuracy, and the interaction between the male and the female partner for the constructs of satisfaction, locus of control and conflict resolution skill. The same set of predictor variables was unsuccessful in predicting the probability of couples remaining together at follow-up. ^ Overall, the study provided only partial support for prior research. The use of multiwave data collection among dating and married non-student pairs was encouraged in order to discover precise predictive equations that could contribute toward the development of comprehensive theoretical models of relationship dynamics. ^