Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

Physical Description

1 online resource (89 leaves)


Marriage, Interpersonal relations




The purpose of this project was to develop a tool to clarify one concept of verbal interaction in marriage. This concept, Verbal Accessibility, was developed by Norman Polansky and defined as the degree of readiness of the individual to communicate verbally and to participate in communication about his determinant attitudes. Verbal Accessibility is dependent on two variables: l) the enduring characteristics of the individual, and 2) the release of inhibiting factors in a given situation. In order to facilitate the use of this concept in treatment, a scale was needed to measure Verbal Accessibility of both the person and of the attitudes in and about marriage. The present study began the development of such a scale. Results supported previous findings concerning the various aspects of marital interaction. The scale consisted of twenty questions intended to measure the Verbal Accessibility of certain determinant attitudes relevant for marital interaction. Four response categories were provided. The scale was administered to forty couples who were involved in marriage counseling: twenty at Family Counseling Service and twenty at the Court of Domestic Relations. Respondents were asked to indicate to what extent they would talk about feelings and concerns important in marriage with each of four target persons--Spouse, Relative, Confidant and Counselor. Following this self rating, each respondent rated his spouse's accessibility with himself as target person. The counselors were asked to rate the respondents using the same scale. These ratings were intended to serve as validity checks, but chi-square comparisons with self ratings proved inconclusive. The scale was constructed to measure the variable Verbal Accessibility in such a way that persons as well as items could be ranked along a continuum from least accessible to most accessible. As constructed, the twenty item scale tapped an unknown number of attitudes. Guttman Scalogram Analysis was used to determine whether we had succeeded in measuring single attitudes with at least some of the items. This procedure had the additional advantage of permitting examination of the conceptual meaning of the attitudes measured. Scalogram analysis was attempted with the responses to the four target persons for the men and women separately at both agencies. With the Spouse and Counselor as target persons, no scalable areas were found in the responses of all of the four groups because of the high percentage of positive ("accessible") responses which made scalogram analysis impossible. Scalar patterns were found in the responses with the Relative and Confidant as target persons for all four groups. Interpretations of the item content of the eight scalar patterns revealed what appeared to be a single underlying theme which is best expressed by Erving Goffman's concept of "impression management." This related to factors compelling and inhibiting communication in a given situation. This concept seemed prominent in the self avowed willingness to communicate all studied attitudes to the spouse as respondents attempted to conform to the ideal of a companionship marriage. The compelling force to be a “good client" and discuss all concerns with the Counselor seemed to be operating. Toward the Relative and Confidant, impression management reflected more discrimination inaccessibility. This suggested that the respondents would communicate selectively to these target persons in order to convey a given impression. Thus, data tended to conform to existing theories concerning marital patterns of communication. This led to the conclusion that with further refinements, an instrument useful to clinical practice could be produced. No measure of reliability was possible within the limits of the study. Methodological refinements are needed in the areas of item selection, separation of research from service and the control of response bias. Investigation of the effect of the personality variable could be pursued.


Portland State College. School of Social Work

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