With a sample of 3,436 engaged and married couples, this study explores the prediction of relationship satisfaction using the personality traits of neuroticism, depression, kindness, impulsivity, flexibility, self-esteem, and extraversion while utilizing controls for non-independent couple data in structural equation modeling. Both actor effects (the impact of an individual's personality on his or her own satisfaction) and partner effects (the impact of the partner's personality on satisfaction) are examined, including comparisons of the relative strength of each for males and females. A comparison is also made of engaged and married couples to determine if relationship status acts as a moderator. A separate model is estimated for each personality trait, and all the models show excellent fit statistics. Findings show significant, negative actor and partner effects for neuroticism, depression, and impulsivity, and significant, positive actor and partner effects for kindness, flexibility, and self-esteem among both engaged and married couples. Extraversion has some significant positive effects but is a weaker predictor. Actor effects are generally stronger than partner effects among the engaged couples in the sample, however among married couples the actor and partner effects are more often of equal magnitude. Many paths differ significantly between engaged and married couples, and in each case the paths are stronger among married couples. These findings support the idea that a variety of personality traits are important predictors of satisfaction, and that both actor and partner effects need to be considered. Findings also give evidence that relationship status acts as a moderator, indicating that personality may be a stronger predictor of satisfaction among married couples than engaged couples. With some traits, an engaged individual's own personality may be a more powerful predictor of his or her satisfaction than the partner's personality, while both spouse's traits may be equally predictive of a married individual's satisfaction.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage, Family, and Human Development



Date Submitted


Document Type





personality, marriage, marital satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, engaged, neuroticism, depression, kindness, impulsivity, flexibility, self-esteem, extraversion