Many scholars have noted the pervasiveness of individualism in American culture, particularly in the marriage culture. Unfortunately, assuming individualism in the marriage culture poses very specific threats to marriage as an institution. Some claim that these individualistic assumptions have also infiltrated the marital sciences, undermining the efforts of researchers who hope to defend marriage. This dissertation explores that claim by analyzing seven of the most popular marital outcome instruments used by marital researchers today for individualistic assumptions. Using a conceptual analysis called "contrasting relations," the meanings of both the content and the process of the instruments are laid out according to their underlying ontological assumptions. Two types of ontology guide the analysis: weak relationality, that from which individualism arises, and strong relationality. As the results demonstrate, the instruments are in fact almost entirely underlain with individualistic assumptions. It is argued that outcome instruments used by marital researchers can only measure individualistic relationships (weak relationality), and are incapable of measuring strong relationships, implying that marital researchers are ill-equipped to measure relationships. Implications and future directions are explored.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Ostenson, Joseph Andrew, "Measuring Marriage or Measuring Individuals: An Ontological Analysis of Marital Therapy Outcome Measures" (2009). All Theses and Dissertations. 2419.
Marriage, marital therapy outcome, individualism, ontology, contrasting relations