dyadic data analysis, forgiveness, interpersonal perceptions


In this methodological study we use the concept of couple forgiveness to explore how to utilize couple data to assess and analyze the systemic idea of a shared reality and other constructs. That is, when couples have a shared reality about a given topic (forgiveness) does that shared view enhance marital outcomes? Shared reality theory, would predict that if forgiveness is scored using a discrepancy calculation, net of previous marital quality and other standard controls, there will be significant and positive increases in relationship quality as discrepancy decreases. Data to evaluate these ideas were collected over three-years from interviews of a community sample of 324 couples. The initial ideas about a shared reality were confirmed in only a few instances. However, individual and combined ratings were significantly associated with couple outcomes but the amount of shared reality was generally not. These findings imply that couple data continues to be crucial for predicting relationship outcomes but combining scores may be more helpful than evaluating discrepancy, at least with a relational construct like forgiveness. Additionally, we found that women’s assessment of personal or partner forgiveness was more statistically powerful in predicting positive marital outcomes than men’s assessments.

Original Publication Citation

Busby, D. M., Day, R. D., & Olsen, J. (2019). Understanding couple shared reality: The case of combined couple versus discrepancy assessments in understanding couple forgiveness. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28, 42–51.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Child and Family Studies




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor