How Do Attitudes Affect Relationship Stability? Content versus Concordance

Jeanette W. Chung, Princeton University
Mario L. Small, Princeton University
Sara McLanahan, Princeton University

Extant research on attitudes and relationship dynamics documents that attitudes toward marriage, gender roles, and the importance of sameness affect the likelihood of marriage and of divorce. The prevailing argument is that attitudes reflect internalized cultural values that guide behavior. Yet, attitudes can also affect behavior through structural concordance, which promotes cohesion in ways that encourage union formation and prevent dissolution. This paper uses paired couple data on diverse attitudes from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to test the hypothesis that cohesion from attitudinal concordance promotes marriage and prevents dissolution independently of attitudinal content. With the exception of marriage attitudes, we find no effect of attitudinal content on marriage or dissolution. However, we find that concordance is positively associated with marriage and negatively associated with relationship dissolution, suggesting that attitudinal homogeneity may be an important form of social capital that promotes union formation and relationship stability.

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Presented in Session 114: Values, Attitudes, and the Family