Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work




Marriage, Interpersonal relations



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 115 leaves)


This project examines specific basic areas of marital interaction theory. Individual chapters are developed around the following themes: historical development of the theory of interaction; a theoretical discussion of selected concepts; personality as a determinant of interaction; communication in marriage; marital interaction patterns; methodology pertaining to research findings; and finally some implications for research which became apparent as this project developed. The project lays the conceptual groundwork for a series of empirical studies that will use the interactional approach as a theoretical base. The immediate purpose of this project therefore is to describe the important dimensions of the interactional approach as these pertain to marital interaction. Interaction is defined as a reciprocal relationship in which each person may produce effects upon the other. Here the essence of marriage is interaction; thus marital interaction is critical in its effect on the spouses and the continuity of the marriage. Some of the basic concepts of George Mead are described and it is suggested that they are essential elements of the interactional approach. The major assumptions of this approach are that a) human behavior cannot be derived or inferred from nonhuman forms, b) the social act is the primary analytic unit for an understanding of society and the personality, c) the human infant is potentially social, and d) the human being is actor as well as reactor. Personality is discussed as a determinant of the quality and quantity of marital interaction. The issue of personal competence is explored, particularly in respect to verbal ability. Communication, the process of influence, is defined for marital interaction and the consequent formation of patterns. Identification and classification of marital interaction patterns are limited to a description of selected examples from family research and the observations of clinicians. Patterns tend to be defined in psychological terms although communicative behavior is stressed. The absence of common criteria and terminology is noted. Description of dysfunctional patterns predominates. Two methods frequently used in recent studies of marital interaction are direct observation and analysis of reports from marital partners. It is suggested that a combination of these techniques could increase the quantity of information about marital interaction. Research questions focus on the problem of adult socialization, its implications for the establishment of marital interaction patterns, and the need to determine the relation between the interaction process and the functional or dysfunctional quality of the resultant pattern. An inseparable part of the aforementioned research areas is the function of communication. It is suggested that investigation of verbal communication might yield significant data for the understanding of the interaction process as it affects the personalities of the spouses and the formation of patterns.


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This is a group research project

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