Changes in Marital Beliefs Among Emerging Adults


marital paradigms, marital beliefs, attitudes, emerging adults, binge drinking


Although research on marital beliefs among emerging adults has increased in recent years, most studies assume that marital beliefs are static features of emerging adulthood. Using a sample of 134 emerging adults in the United States tracked over a 1-year period, we explored if these emerging adults exhibited changes in their marital beliefs over time and what predicted such changes. We found that emerging adults in the sample showed significant growth over the 1-year period in the importance they placed on marriage while at the same time expecting to place less importance on their eventual marital role. Staying single and breaking up with a romantic partner were both related to decreases in marital salience, while cohabiting between data collections was associated with decreases in marital centrality. Finally, stronger marital salience at Time 1 was predictive of decreased binge drinking at Time 2, net of Time 1 assessments of such behavior. Such findings validate previous theoretical assumptions regarding marital beliefs.

Original Publication Citation

Brian J. Willoughby, Melissa Medaris, Spencer L. James, and Kyle Bartholomew. 2015. “Changes in Marital Beliefs among Emerging Adults: Examining Marital Paradigms over Time.” Emerging Adulthood 3:219-228.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Emerging Adulthood




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor