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Heterosexual couples’ attitude towards money and its effect on their evaluation of life and
marital happiness.
CHAPTER ONE
1.0

INTRODUCTION

Marital satisfaction is a complex process that has over time been thought to be influenced by
many factors including education, socio-economic status, love, commitment, marital
communication, length of marriage, the presence of children, sexual relations and the division of
labour (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1992).
The number of factors that could potentially contribute to marital satisfaction are too numerous
and complex to be adequately dealt with in one study. A continually changing economic, social
and cultural environment has contributed to changes in the demands of marriage. A study of
gender, duration of marriage, presence of children, the perception of fairness in the division of
household labour, sexual satisfaction, and their relationship to marital satisfaction may elucidate
the importance of these particular factors as contributors to marital satisfaction.
Measures of wealth such as income and assets are commonly considered to be objective
assessments of environmental circumstances, making direct contributions to happiness or life
satisfaction. Indeed, the correlation between an individual‟s income and life satisfaction ranges
as high as .50 in some countries (Diener & Oishi, 2000). The standard microeconomic
explanation for this correlation is that income generates opportunities for individuals to select
courses of action that improve well-being (Schwartz, 2004), leading to the presumption that there
is a direct causal link between wealth and well-being (Diener & Seligman, 2004). The standard
psychological explanation for this correlation posits essentially the same effect, but it focuses on
the limitations on the development of human potential imposed by the stresses of meeting dayto-day needs in the difficult circumstances presented by relative lack of income (Adler & Snibbe,
2003). Either way, income and assets are assumed to provide direct measures of the
environmental potential to generate resources to create a satisfying life.
At the same time, there is substantial evidence that the link between higher income and life
satisfaction is not direct. Within nations, the correlations between income and life satisfaction are
stronger in poorer nations than in wealthier nations (Diener & Oishi, 2000; Veenhoven, 1991), as
are the correlations between financial satisfaction and life satisfaction (Diener & Diener, 1995).
Life satisfaction increases only slightly relative to continuing increases in income in wealthy
societies (Helliwell, 2003), and increases in individual income are reliably associated with later
increases in individual well-being only when the income increases are slow and steady (Diener &
Biswas-Diener, 2002), hinting that expectations about and perceived control of increases may be
involved in the association with well-being. Longitudinal data also suggest that causation may
flow in both directions: Higher life satisfaction contributes to higher income as well (Diener &
1

Seligman, 2004), and a disposition toward optimism and positive affect may contribute to both a
positive overall evaluation of life and a positive evaluation of particular life circumstances. In
addition, the materialism associated with valuing higher income may reduce life satisfaction
(Nickerson, Schwartz, Diener, & Kahneman, 2003), thus offsetting the positive effects of
actually receiving higher income. Taken together, these data hint that the economic environment
important to life satisfaction may consist of psychological perceptions about financial matters
rather than the actual financial matters themselves. That is, psychological variables may mediate
the association between income and other economic variables and life satisfaction.
Financial aspects of intimate relationships tend to be a subject that couple are uncomfortable
discussing (Vogler, 1998). Most individuals grow up in families where no one talks about
money. People may argue about money:
“He doesn‟t make enough or she spends too much.” However, there generally is no real
education about what role money plays in relationships.
Very often children become adults having no idea of how much money their parents have
saved or even what they earn. Talking about money is taboo and people often become adults
carrying irrational attitudes, beliefs, and anxieties about money or not knowing how to handle
money. When they later enter a coupled relationship, these anxieties generally emerge.
The concept of money
The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1978) defines the term money in the following manner:
“Current medium of exchange in form of portable pieces of metal; this and promissory
documents representing it…; government and bank notes; property viewed as convertible into
money…” (p.704). Money, therefore, can be considered as any token or other object that
functions as a medium of exchange that is socially and legally accepted in payment for goods
and services and in settlement of debts. These tokens are generally represented by, but not
limited to, coins, notes, and cheques. In today‟s technological age, the exchange of money can be
carried out by traditional means of the physical transfers of money from one person to another,
or, alternatively, electronically from one account to another through the internet (on-line
banking), telephones or at point-of-sale terminals (EFTPOS). Smart cards, debit and credit cards
substitute for physical money carried in wallets and purses, and increasingly represent the
preferred mode of commercial exchange, except perhaps for purchasing minor items.
Most research on money has focused on its role in the domains of economics, management,
marketing, and industrial and organizational psychology. From a functional perspective, money
not only represents a medium of exchange, a standard of value (standardizing the value of goods
and services for exchange), and a store of value (index of wealth), but also the symbolic medium
that reflects individual achievements and recognition, status and respect, freedom and control,
and power (Mitchell & Mickel, 1999). In an series of studies designed to explore the symbolic
meaning of money, Rose and Orr (2007) identified four key dimensions: (i) status related to the
2

extent that an individual perceives money as an index of prestige; (ii) achievement perceived as a
symbol of accomplishments and sign of success; (iii) worry and anxiety linked to the extent that
a person feels anxious about money; and (iv) security, reflecting an individual‟s propensity to
save money to secure financial safety. These authors suggested that the symbolic meaning of
money varied according to the amount of money people had and their developmental life stage,
and acted as to mediate personal values and specific consumer behaviours. Rose and Orr (2007),
and others (Furnham & Argyle, 1998) concluded that money is seen as a powerful motivator that
shapes behaviour, moral values and actions, self-esteem and social status. How money and
attitudes to money act to influence behaviours and psychological well-being, therefore, is of
central relevance to the arena of gambling, an activity focused exclusively on the exchange of
money based not on economic productivity or value but simply on chance-determined outcomes.
The concept of money contains affective, symbolic and behavioural components (Mitchell &,
Mickel, 1999) and can be seen as paradoxically good, important, valuable and attractive, or
alternatively, evil, shameful, useless and dishonest. Despite this ambivalence, money symbolizes
achievement, status, and respect, freedom and personal identity and, consequently, acts as a
motivator leading people in the quest to seek out opportunities to save, invest and maximize
wealth.
Heterosexual Couples’ Attitude towards money
In principle, attitudes refer to a person‟s feelings, opinions, and general approach towards a
person or object (Funder, 2007). By contrast to personality, attitudes are often influenced by
situational and circumstantial factors and hence, they are believed to be less stable than
personality traits. To describe individual differences in the motivation for obtaining and spending
money, four money attitudes have been differentiated in prior research (Furnham & Argyle,
1998). First, money may be perceived as a security blanket, leading to hoarding and compulsive
saving behaviours. Second, money may represent power, status and control; here, money leads to
social recognition and acceptance because it buys status symbols. Third, money can be
associated with the expression of love or generosity, including the buying and the selling of
emotional closeness and affection. Finally, money may mean autonomy or freedom that allows
people escaping from their daily routines (e.g. weekend getaway) and circumventing life‟s
dullest obligations (Furnham & Argyle, 1998). Some empirical studies reported that money
attitudes are independent of income (e.g. Yamauchi & Templer, 1982).
However, as this phenomenon (money) is said to be a very important factor that determine to a
large extent the evaluation of life of heterosexual couples, it follows therefore that marital
happiness too could be influenced by money as to whether one perceived him/herself to be
higher, lower, or at the middle rungs of the socio-economic ladder; and how much this could
possibly resolve in marital conflicts of heterosexual couples. It is noteworthy that the term
„heterosexual‟ is used to describe the kind of sexual orientation that unites the opposite sex, not
same-sex.
Hence, something of heterosexual nature would not be „homosexual‟ which is rather
a different and of course, an opposite terminology; „homosexual‟ is a more appropriate term for
3

„same-sex‟ sexual orientation like gayism (which often happen between males) and lesbianism
(which often happen between females).
1.2

STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

It is evident that the satisfaction of heterosexual couples in their marriage is an important
aspect of a long lasting marital relationship, as some couples are satisfied; others are not satisfied
in their marriage. This could be dependent on the fact that there are various factors surrounding
marital happiness itself. One of such factors is the financial aspect of the intimate relationship in
such a way that the values and beliefs held by couples about tend to either sustain or destroy the
relationship. These values and attitude are in fact, capable of resulting in either positive
consequences such as love and respect or negative consequences such as arguments, physical and
verbal abuse of anyone spouse.
As common sense may suggest, higher income may be associated with higher marital
satisfaction and lower income may be associated with lower marital satisfaction, it does not
provide adequate explanation of how values and beliefs about money give rise to marital
satisfaction of heterosexual couples. Thus, this research is useful at providing answers to
possible questions relating to this phenomenon. Such research questions are: can belief about
money help to predict the extent to which heterosexual couples are satisfied with their marital
relationship? How much value or worth do heterosexual couples attribute to money? How does
evaluation of life relate to marital happiness?
1.3

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The main aim of the study is to investigate how beliefs about money contribute to evaluation,
and marital satisfaction. These aims are broken down to:
1.4

To examine the effect of belief about money on the evaluation of life
To examine whether belief about money has any influence on marital happiness.
RELEVANCE OF THE STUDY

The study is relevant to the research itself in such a way as to contribute to any existing
literature and the entire body of psychological research. Also, this study would sensitize the
society on the way money has a gross influence in a broad range of behaviours in which case, the
evaluation of life and marital satisfaction is taken with high regard.
1.5

SCOPE OF THE STUDY

This research is carried out in the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti state, Nigeria. It did
not digress from its proposed domains (that is, money influence on the evaluation of life and
marital happiness).

4

CHAPTER TWO
LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1.1

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

2.1.1

DYNAMIC GOAL THEORY OF MARITAL SATISFACTION

According to Li and Fung, marriage is more voluntary in nature and is symbolized by the
couple‟s love for each other and desire to be together. Their marital satisfaction is the main
factor that influences the dynamic goal theory of marital satisfaction, which looks at the marital
quality and the emotional aspect of the marriage (Li & Fung, 2011). The theory argues that
marital goals are the core foundation of the marriage and need to be achieved to reach marital
satisfaction.
The theory argues that there are three types of marital goals to be achieved. Personal growth
goals are based on the improvement and development of oneself with the help of the spouse
within the marriage. When these goals are met, a feeling of accomplishment helps the spouse to
feel capable of future challenges. Marital goals should be accentuated by young adults who have
a future waiting for them (Li & Fung, 2011). Companionship goals show the bonding and
emotional meaningful goals that a spouse needs with the other spouse, while the instrumental
goals focus on the tasks that occur throughout life that include using the spouse‟s physical and
mental resources (Li & Fung, 2011). The nature of marriage is known as the instrumental goals
and is often applied as a division of household effort and responsibilities. Instrumental support
from the spouse can help to improve marital quality; however unequal division of effort and
responsibilities can lead to marital conflict (Li & Fung, 2011).
The dynamic goal theory of marital satisfaction argues that a couple‟s vulnerability and
stressful events within their environment, help them to modify their life to the environmental
changes that interact and combine together influencing the couple‟s marital stability (Li & Fung,
2011). Other research suggests that wives, regardless of their ethnicity, feel that their marriage
relationship is unfair (Forry, Leslie & Letiecq, 2007). Forry, Leslie and Letiecq (2007) studied
76 African American and White couples to determine the couples‟ marital quality, sex role
ideology, and perceived unfairness. The couples who participated had either attended college or
were college graduates, an average marriage of nine years, an average income of $63,350, and an
average of two children living in their household.
2.1.2

TOOL THEORY OF MONEY

Lea and Webley (2006) recognize the desire to acquire money is derived not from its
intrinsic value as an object (money as a piece of paper, metal object or notational figure) but
rather from what it represents: an opportunity to purchase desired commodities and services.
Money is used as an instrument to obtain commodities, and its incentive value lies in the benefits
that are derived from the consumption of those commodities. Specifically, Lea and Webley
5

suggest that money can be considered an incentive if people perceive that performing an action
will lead them to obtain money. Money is reinforcing since it leads individuals to repeat acts
with a high probability of generating additional funds.
In this context, the value of money resides in its capacity to be a unit of exchange for other
tangible items of consumption that meet needs and provide rewards (shelter, security, food, etc.),
and/or confer intangible benefits such as status, power and prestige and personal sense of selfworth.
According to the Tool Theory of Money (Lea & Webley, 2006), money represents an
instrumental „means to an end‟: either materialism or status/egotism.

2.1.3

THE DRUG THEORY OF MONEY

An alternative explanatory model that is postulated to explain the powerful drive to acquire
money is the Drug Theory of Money. According to Lea & Webley (2006), money is a powerful
motivator at the cognitive level partly because it has the capacity, “…to mimic the neural,
behavioural, or psychological action of some other natural incentive” (p.8). These authors refer
to a number of studies in the field of neuro-economics in which brain imaging methodologies
have shown that specific brain regions are activated by money-related stimuli and that immediate
money incentives stimulate immediate cortical reward (Ross, Sharp, Vuchinich, & Spurrett
2008), pathways.
2.2

RELATED STUDIES

Studies on marital happiness and factors influencing it have been explored and there are
existing publications about marital relationships and factors relating to them. One of such
publications is that of Fincham‟s (2007) „marital happiness‟.
2.2.1 MARITAL HAPPINESS
Marital happiness is a judgment made by a spouse that indicates the sense of well-being or
satisfaction he or she experiences in the marital relationship. Ever since changing social and
economic conditions at the end of the nineteenth century prompted concern about the breakdown
of the family, social scientists have sought to understand marital functioning. The central status
accorded happiness in this nascent research area gained the attention of researchers from a
variety of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, family studies and communications.
To this day, what has been variously labelled marital happiness, satisfaction, adjustment,
success, companionship or some synonym reflective of the quality of the marriage remains the
most frequently studied aspect of marriage. This focus is perhaps not surprising because the
protective effect of a happy marriage for the mental and physical health of spouses, as well as the
healthy development of their children, is well documented (Fincham, Stanley and Beach, 2007).
6

According to Fincham (2007), Some potential factors that underlie marital happiness are
cognitive variables and they have also received considerable attention from marital researchers.
Most frequently investigated is the association between attributions, or explanations for events,
and relationship happiness, making it possibly the most robust, replicable phenomenon in the
study of marriage. Happiness is associated with attributing negative relationship events (e.g.,
spouse arrives home late from work) to impermanent, specific causes located outside of the
partner (e.g. insufficient money to cater for needs) and positive events to stable partner
characteristics (e.g., personality traits). Alternative explanations for this attribution–happiness
association have been ruled out (e.g., depression) and these attribution patterns have been shown
to not only predict responses to partner behaviors but also later levels of marital happiness as
well as the trajectory of happiness over time. Marital happiness is also positively related to a
number of other cognitive variables, including secure attachment models, smaller partner and
ideal standards discrepancies, greater downward social comparison, memory biases that reflect
negatively biased recall of the past (resulting in the belief that the marriage has improved); and
self-evaluation maintenance processes that change the nature of couple communication and
moderate responses to differences in decision making power.
2.2.2 HOW MONEY BUYS HAPPINESS
Genetic and Environmental Processes: Linking Finances and Life Satisfaction
Measures of wealth such as income and assets are commonly considered to be objective
measures of environmental circumstances, making direct contributions to life satisfaction.
Wendy Johnson and Robert F. Krueger (2006) explored the accuracy of this assumption. Using a
nationwide sample of 719 twin pairs from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the
United States, the authors first noted the relative independence of most perceptions about
financial status from measures of actual wealth. They then demonstrated that perceived financial
situation and control over life completely mediated the association between measures of actual
wealth and life satisfaction. Finally, they showed that financial resources appeared to protect life
satisfaction from environmental shocks. In addition, control appeared to act as a mechanism
translating life circumstances into life satisfaction.

2.2.3

HYPOTHESES TO BE TESTED

1. Heterosexual males and females will differ significantly in their money beliefs, satisfaction
with life, and marital happiness.
2. Power-prestige and retention-time factors of money beliefs will jointly and individually
influence marital happiness of heterosexual couples.
3. Distrust in money matters will significantly influence life satisfaction of heterosexual couples
7

4. Heterosexual couples who are anxious in their money matters will differ significantly in
satisfaction with life and marital happiness.
5. There will be a significant relationship between money beliefs, marital happiness and
satisfaction with life of heterosexual couples.

2.2.4

OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS

Evaluation of life: is an individual‟s perception of life generally especially in terms of whether
life satisfies him or her.
Heterosexual: is used to describe the kind of sexual orientation that unites the opposite sex, not
same-sex.
Marital happiness: is the kind of happiness derived from any relationship of matrimony of
which either couple may be satisfied so that one can easily conclude that marital satisfaction will
no doubt results in marital happiness.
Money: Current medium of exchange in form of portable pieces of metal; this and promissory
documents representing it; government and bank notes; property viewed as convertible into
money. Money, therefore, can be considered as any token or other object that functions as a
medium of exchange that is socially and legally accepted in payment for goods and services and
in settlement of debts.

CHAPTER THREE
METHODS
This chapter focuses on the method used in the study, which covers the research design, research
participants, research instruments, and the method of data analysis.
3.1

RESEARCH DESIGN

Survey method of research was used in this study because the data collection process involves
the use of questionnaires to obtain valuable information from the desired respondents. Research
participants include 200 married individuals to take part in the research.
3.2

RESEARCH PARTICIPANTS
8

A total of two hundred (200) respondents were purposively selected across various households, mostly in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti-State, Nigeria.
3.3

SAMPLE AND SAMPLING PROCEDURE

Purposive sampling was used in this research since questionnaires were deliberately
administered to a target sample of interest, that is, heterosexual couples.
3.4

RESEARCH INSTRUMENTS
1. Money Attitude Scale (29-item): developed by Yamauchi and Templer (1982).
It is used to measure the rate of an individual‟s attitude towards money, love and importance
attached to money; also a predictor of social economic status.

Validity: Factor loading of all items range between 0.41 to 0.78
Reliability: internal consistency was calculated and coefficient alpha range between 0.69 and
0.77.
Scoring and interpretation
The scoring and interpretation of the Money Attitude Scale is usually obtained by simply adding
each score from each item of a factor to arrive at the factor score:
Power-Prestige Factor: Items 3, 7, 10, 13, 16, 18, 21, 24 and 26
Retention-Time Factor: Items 1, 2, 6, 12, 14, 20 and 23
Distrust Factor:

Items 4, 5, 8, 11, 17, 27 and 28

Anxiety Factor:

Items 9, 15, 19, 22, 25 and 29

Compare your factor scores with the scores for each factor presented below.
2. Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) 5-item version.
This scale was developed by Diener, Emmons, Larsen and Griffin (1985). Description of
Measure: A 5-item scale designed to measure global cognitive judgments of one‟s life
satisfaction (not a measure of either positive or negative effect), which is the basis of how people
ascribe meaning to their lives. Participants indicate how much they agree or disagree with each
of the 5 items using a 7-point scale that ranges from 7 strongly agree to 1 strongly disagree.
Psychometric properties
Validity of Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS)

9


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