Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Leonard Handler

Committee Members

Fran Trusty, F. Albert Wiberley, Harold Fine


As demonstrated by statistics and described by experts, traditional marriage is not proving to be a satisfactory relationship for many. The proportion of divorces is annually rising and the institution of marriage has been described aptly as a calamity. This author conducted an interpersonal study of couples involved in one alternative to traditional marriage--"Swinging."

Subjects were obtained via written letter to those swingers who advertised in a swinging magazine. Eight couples participated in the study. The procedure took place in their homes and averaged about six hours. The procedure consisted of the administration of the complete Leary Interpersonal Analysis, the abbreviated Roman and Bauman Interaction Test and an in-depth taped interview.

Results of the Leary revealed the following: husbands behaved autocratically and over-generously and described themselves as exploitative and autocratic. The wives presented a much more individualistic personality profile and revealed little consistency among them. Results further indicated overall marital harmony.

Results from the abbreviated Roman and Bauman Interaction Test indicated general normal functioning within the relationship with exception of two couples. For the other six couples they productively utilized their individual resources whereas the two problem couples tied up their energies in neurotic conflict. Though swinging has been described as a male dominant activity, the present study revealed a generally equal distribution of power within the relationships. Intellectually, seven of the eight couples were described as average or above, and one was described as dull normal.

Interview material complemented the above findings and further illustrated the uniqueness in development of each subject. There was, however, one consistent theme for both husbands and wives--a neutral or negative evaluation of their mother.

Swinging, for these couples, has generally served as a means for personal growth, similar to what sensitivity groups have provided for others. The couples have grown emotionally both as individuals and as a couple. One couple used swinging as a destructive outlet, but the other seven used it for need fulfillment and personal growth.

The bias toward swinging being a pathological activity has been demonstrated to be inappropriate in the present study.

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