Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology


Marital commitment is increasingly becoming a research focus of many social science researchers. However, to date the research is plagued by the isolation in which definitions and measures were developed/used, the use of divergent theoretical and operational definitions of commitment, and the paucity of psychometrically sophisticated research instruments. In addition, the relationship between religious belief and marital functioning, once well substantiated, has more recently been neglected. The present research addresses these problems. First, the relationship of the social sciences and theology is discussed. Second, the significance of marital commitment is reviewed. Third, a transdisciplinary definition of commitment is developed. Fourth, the 16 empirical measures located on the basis of an exhaustive literature search are summarized, and evaluated in terms of this definition and their psychometric sophistication. Fifth, the concept of commitment to God and its measurement is discussed followed by a review of the literature suggesting a relationship between it and marital commitment. Finally, hypotheses and research questions regarding the relationship between the various measures and demographic data are specified. The sample was composed of 149 married persons that identified with 5 churches in the Lebanon, PA, area which were varied in terms of theological conservatism. The three best measures of marital commitment, the Broderick (1980) commitment Inventory, the Dimensions of commitment Scales (Wyatt, 1984), the commitment Inventory (Stanley, 1986) and their subscales were hypothesized to statistically converge and diverge in accordance with their theoretical similarities and differences. Generally the marital commitment scales were more divergent than expected; however, some support was found for their convergent and divergent validity. The marital commitment measures also were found to be related to a one-item measure of the importance of the participant's religion and the Spiritual Maturity Index (SMI, Ellison & Rashid, 1984), the best available measure of commitment to God. Limited evidence for the hypothesized divergence of the religiosity measure and the SMI was found. several of the commitment subscales correlated with age and length of marriage, but number of children failed to be correlated with commitment as found in earlier studies. Remaining special problems, directions for future research and applications are suggested.

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