Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work




Oral communication, Families, Marriage, Interpersonal relations



Physical Description

1 online resource (3, v, 95 leaves)


This thesis is the fourth in a series of empirical investigations concerned with symbolic interaction in marriage. Its basic assumption is that personal predispositions of marital partners as well as the social context of their marriage influences marital intimacy particularly the partner’s readiness to communicate verbally with each other about important attitudes and feelings. Fifty married graduate students attending Portland State University School of Social Work and their spouses comprised the sample. The subjects responded to three instruments: (1) a personality scale (Authoritarian Family Ideology – AFI) developed by Jane Loevinger, (2) a measure of verbal accessibility (VA), and (3) a measure of social network based on the works of Elizabeth Bott. Four hypotheses were tested: (1) the greater an individual’s authoritarian family ideology (AFI), the less will be his verbal accessibility (VA). (2) the greater a married couple’s AFI, the less will be the marital VA. (3) the greater the connectedness of the couple’s social network, the less will be the marital VA. (4) the greater the connectedness of a couple’s social network, the greater will be the spouses’ combined AFI. The Pearson Product Moment Correlation was used in the data analysis. The data supported the first and second hypotheses, with moderately low correlations being found. Results obtained were statistically significant at least at the .05 level and the hypotheses of inverse relationships between AFI and VA for both individuals and couples were accepted. The data did not support the hypotheses concerned with the relationship between a couple’s social network, marital VA, and marital AFI. Generally, the study revealed that marriages in which spouses displayed less willingness for reciprocal verbal exchanges appeared to be more authoritarian in structure. Whereas those marriages in which spouses had a greater proclivity for mutual self-disclosure appeared less rigid and conventional. The study did not provide evidence of a relationship between the social context of marriage and ideological preferences. This raised a question regarding the validity of the instrument used to measure social network. A more precise instrument would have provided more definitive results.


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Portland State University. School of Social Work

Persistent Identifier