Lay beliefs about the possibility of finding enduring love: A mediator of the effect of parental relationship quality on own romantic relationship quality

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This paper tested mechanisms that explain why and how relationship quality between parents might impact on later romantic relationship quality of adult children. In one pilot study (N = 119) and one main study (N = 684), romantically involved participants reported their perceptions of the quality of their parents’ relationship when they were growing up. Participants also reported their satisfaction with their own romantic relationship. Secure attachment to the romantic partner and positive lay theories about the possibility of finding enduring love were also measured. Both were tested as mediators of the effect of parental relationship quality on own relationship satisfaction. In both the pilot and the main study, a model fit the data well whereby perceived ‘parental relationship quality’ predicted ‘positive lay theories’ about romantic love. This, in turn, predicted ‘secure attachment’ to the romantic partner, which in turn predicted ‘relationship satisfaction’ with the romantic relationship. Findings suggest that lay theories about finding enduring love are an important mediator of effects of parental relationships on later adult relationships. Considering them alongside other previously studied mechanisms such as attachment can therefore make a valuable contribution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe American Journal of Family Therapy
Early online date20 Jun 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jun 2022

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