Unique Influences on American Indian Relationship Quality: An American-Indian and Caucasian Comparison


american Indians, Caucasians, relationship quality


We compare American Indians and Caucasians on the influence of family-of-origin quality on the adult-children’s later romantic relationship quality. Using data from the RELATE, 341 American Indians and 341 Caucasian participants were analyzed using group comparison methods. Structural equation modeling demonstrated that, overall, the perceived impact of family-of-origin mediated the significant influence of family-of-origin on later adult romantic relationship stability and satisfaction. However, for American Indians, the quality of the father-child relationship did not directly or indirectly influence the child’s later adult relationship quality. Still, a large portion of the father-child and mother-child relationship and quality of the parent’s marriage explains a large portion of the variance of the child’s overall perception of the impact of his or her family. Additionally, group comparison methods demonstrated that American Indians generally reported lower values on family-of-origin quality measures and relationship stability. However, they had comparable relationship satisfaction and father-child relationship quality ratings. Findings suggest that historical trauma and collectivistic cultural patterns may at least partially explain these observations. Several suggestions are made to guide interventions for American Indian families.

Original Publication Citation

Gray, A., Shafer, K., Limb, G., & Busby, D. (2013). Unique influences on American Indian relationship quality: An American Indian and Caucasian comparison. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 44(5), 589-607.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Comparative Family Studies




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Social Work

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor