Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Family Consumer Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Scot M. Allgood


Scot M. Allgood


Kim Openshaw


Kathy Piercy


Jay Schvaneveldt


This study was designed to investigate undergraduate university students' appraisals of their parents' marital happiness, and how those views affect respondents' current attitudes toward marriage. The sample included 1,437 undergraduate students between the years 1970 and 1999. The dependent variable was perceived marital happiness in the family of origin. The independent variables were perceived communication quality, perceived level of egalitarianism, level of education, and perceived religious activity of the respondents ' parents as reported by the respondents. Respondents' desire to have a communication situation in their own marriage similar to that of the parents' marriage, and desire to have a power situation in their own marriage similar to that of the parents' marriage was also assessed. The results indicate that respondents saw perceived communication quality as the strongest correlate of perceived marital happiness, and high perceived levels of parental marital happiness were associated with students ' desires to have both a power situation and a communication situation in their own marriage similar to that of their parents' marriage. Perceived communication quality yielded a strong correlation with perceived marital happiness Other correlates of perceived marital happiness included perceived level of egalitarianism and perceived religiosity. Parents' level of education correlated negatively with perceived marital happiness. Correlations among predictor variables fail to support the theoretical base used in this study, indicating that couples within the past 30 years do value the socially prescribed processes of communication quality and egalitarianism when evaluating marital happiness.