Date of Award
Master of Arts
James K. McNulty
Lowell Gaertner, Michael Olson
How do people determine satisfaction in their relationships? One way may be to engage in bottom-up processing and rely on sexual satisfaction to arrive at an overall evaluation of the relationship. Another way may be to engage in top-down processing and allow the overall relationship satisfaction to color the perceptions of sexual satisfaction. The current study more rigorously examined the causal relationship between sexual and marital satisfaction through multilevel cross-lagged regression analyses of 8 waves of marital and sexual satisfaction reported by 72 newlywed couples over the first five years of marriage. Consistent with bottom-up processing, initial sexual satisfaction predicted subsequent marital satisfaction. Also, consistent with top-down processing, initial marital satisfaction predicted subsequent sexual satisfaction. The current findings extend theoretical perspectives on the relationship between sexual satisfaction and suggest that both causal paths be considered in future research and clinical practice.
Wenner, Carolyn Anne, "Is Sex Important to Marital Satisfaction or is Marital Satisfaction Important to Sex? Top-down and Bottom-up Processing in the Bedroom.. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2010.