A Dyadic Test of the Association Between Trait Self-Control and Romantic Relationship Satisfaction

Frontiers in Psychology 11 (2020)
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Previous research has demonstrated that trait self-control is related to a range of positive romantic relationship processes, suggesting that trait self-control should be positively and robustly linked to relationship satisfaction in both partners in a romantic relationship. However, the existing empirical evidence is limited and mixed, especially regarding partner effects. With three datasets of heterosexual couples, the present pre-registered studies examined: the dyadic associations between trait self-control and relationship satisfaction both cross-sectionally and longitudinally, and whether these effects hold when controlling for both partners’ relationship commitment. The results indicated a cross-sectional positive actor effect, some support for a positive cross-sectional partner effect, and only little support for a longitudinal actor effect. After controlling for relationship commitment, all effects of trait self-control on satisfaction diminished except for a longitudinal actor effect among women in Study 2. Potential explanations for the current results, and implications for theory and practice, are discussed.



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