Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Kristina C. Gordon

Committee Members

Todd M. Moore, Greg L. Stuart, Courtney N. Wright


Research and practice in couple therapy has been influenced by positive psychology, and other factors, to create a nuanced viewed of relationship health. Relationship strengths are thought to be informative of overall relationship health, possibly even more so than relationship concerns (Gable, Gonzaga, & Strachman, 2006; Sullivan, Pasch, Johnson, & Bradbury, 2010). The present project explored the association between self-identified relationship strengths and couple satisfaction. Then, the study examined the association between self and partner pronoun use and level of couple satisfaction during an interview about relationship strengths.

Aim 1 replicated Gray and colleagues’ (under review) project which examined the association between types of strengths and level of couple satisfaction reported by extremely satisfied and extremely dissatisfied individuals. I predicted similar results, such that type of strength would vary based on relationship satisfaction. More specifically, those individuals who endorse strengths focused on working together as a team will report lower levels of couple satisfaction and those who endorse strengths centered on emotional intimacy will report higher levels of couple satisfaction. Aim 2 expanded on this general research question from looking at what types of strengths partners choose to how they speak about their respective strengths during a focused discussion. Overall, how does language use, specifically pronoun use, during a strengths-based discussion relate to couple satisfaction? I utilized separate actor-partner independence models to (APIMs; Kenny & Kashy, 2010) to determine the path analyses between the associations of unique actor and partner effects of I, me, we, and you pronoun use and level of couple satisfaction.

Results for Aim 1 failed to replicate findings from the Marriage Checkup study such that couples most frequently endorsed the same top three strengths across level of satisfaction. Secondly, path analyses partially supported our hypotheses and revealed significant negative associations for both actor and partner effects for women’s I-talk and significant positive associations for both actor and partner effects for men’s you-talk. The remaining paths were not significantly related.

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