Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. John Thoburn

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Beverly Wilson

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Jacob Bentley


This study explored the association between adult attachment, implicit theories of relationships, and marital satisfaction for adults who are currently in a romantic relationship. Attachment needs influence the lasting relationships individuals have in their lives, from infancy to adulthood. Secure attachment facilitates lasting relationships. Implicit theories around romantic relationships motivate our behaviors in relationships to fit our cognitive schemas. Due to attachment’s pervasive hold on our perceptions of the world and others, the relationships we have with significant others influence our cognitive schemas around romantic relationship dynamics. It was hypothesized that attachment (the independent variable) would affect marital satisfaction (the dependent variable), and that implicit theories of relationships (destiny and growth belief) would indirectly affect that relationship.

Data was gathered from 82 participants. Participants included 11 males and 71 females with the mean age of 33.95 years, who endorsed currently being in a serious romantic relationship. The participants were assessed for attachment anxiety and avoidance using the Experience of Close Relationships – Revised (ECR-R) measure, implicit theories of relationships using the Implicit Theories of Relationships scales (ITRs), and marital satisfaction using the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS). PROCESS Macro’s test of parallel multiple regression analysis was used to test the associations among the three primary variables. Results demonstrated a significant negative relationship between attachment anxiety/avoidance and marital satisfaction (b = -7.65, p < .001; b = -10.05, p < .001, respectively). Results indicated implicit theories of relationships having a nonsignificant indirect effect on the relationship between attachment and marital satisfaction. In post hoc analyses, destiny belief was found to significantly moderate the relationship between attachment avoidance and marital satisfaction ([Symbol]F(1, 78) = 4.56,[Symbol]R2 = .03, p < .05). In general, this research suggests that individuals with insecure attachment report lower levels of marital satisfaction. In addition, it appears that having high destiny beliefs about relationships could strengthen the negative relationship between attachment avoidance and marital satisfaction so that reported levels are lower than if the individual had lower levels of destiny beliefs.

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