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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



There is a large body of research documenting the link between individuals’ perceptions of partners’ traits and relationship satisfaction (Simpson, Fillo, & Myers, 2012). Prior work indicates that both accurate understanding and idealized perception of partners’ traits are associated with greater relationship satisfaction (e.g., Luo & Snider, 2009). However, research in this area has predominantly focused on the impact of partner perception on relationship satisfaction. There is very limited evidence on whether relationship satisfaction in turn affects partner perception. The present study followed newlywed heterosexual couples during their first 2-3 years of marriage and examined the relations between individuals’ perceptions of spouses’ attachment style and marital satisfaction over time using two waves of data. Using cross-lagged structural equation models, the study finds that individuals’ greater satisfaction significantly predicted their greater accuracy in tracking their partner’s anxiety, lower accuracy in tracking their partner’s avoidance, increased positive illusions of their partner’s avoidance, and their partner’s decreased positive illusions of individuals’ avoidance one year later. Furthermore, individuals’ greater positive illusions of their partner’s anxiety and avoidance led to their partner’s increased satisfaction and individuals’ decreased satisfaction down the line, respectively. Potential explanations for contradictory results between anxiety and avoidance are discussed at length. The study extends the literature by investigating the directionality of the link between partner perception and relationship outcomes using cross-lagged models in a longitudinal design.


First Advisor

Paula R Pietromonaco