First Advisor

Donald G. Welch

Term of Graduation

Spring 1971

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work




Marriage, Marriage -- Oregon -- Multnomah County



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 73 pages)


The decision to marry and choice of mate are two issues contemplated by most individuals during their lifetime. It is our belief that the manner in which an individual makes these decisions is a reflection of that individual’s level of emotional maturity.

In our society, the right to enter into a marriage agreement is largely determined by chronological age. Our research problem began with the hypothesis that there is no direct relationship between chronological age and emotional maturity at the time of marriage.

For our study, marriages were divided into two general categories: 1) teenage marriages in which at least one partner was 20 years of age or younger, and 2) adult marriages in which one partner was 21 years of age or older. The three independent variables studied were: age, sex of respondent, and sex of spouse. The dependent variable was emotional maturity.

Emotional maturity was operationally defined by a questionnaire consisting of 67 statements about why people decide to marry, and why they chose their particular spouse. A panel of 12 experts in the field of marriage counseling were asked to rate each statement on a seven point scale of maturity-immaturity. The range and mode for each statement was computed and used to construct a new questionnaire consisting of 30 statements. Emotional maturity was defined by the absolute difference between the individual respondent’s rating and the expert’s modal response.

A sample population was selected using recently married individuals who had applied for marriage licenses in Multnomah County, Oregon. The second questionnaire was mailed to the respondents. A 2 x 2 x 2 factorial design was used to identify which variable or combination of variables accounted for any discrepancy. A multiple regression analysis and a F test were run to test the hypothesis of the study.

The data received supported the null hypothesis. However, there were several conceptual and methodological limitations to the study which raise questions as to the reliability of the measuring instrument and use of the concept of emotional maturity.


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