Exchange theory predicts that people who adopt favorable attitudes toward divorce invest fewer resources in their marriages, thus eroding marital quality. Cognitive dissonance theory predicts that people who experience declines in marital quality adopt more favorable attitudes toward divorce as they anticipate leaving the relationship. This study tests both hypotheses. National, longitudinal data and structural equation models are used to estimate reciprocal paths between changes in attitudes toward divorce and changes in marital quality. The data provide stronger support for the exchange theory hypothesis than the cognitive dissonance hypothesis. Adopting more favorable attitudes toward divorce appears to undermine marital quality in the long run.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)