Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

James K. McNulty

Committee Members

Lowell A. Gaertner, Michael A. Olson


A robust literature documents numerous negative implications of neuroticism for romantic relationships. The current study was the first to demonstrate necessary information regarding how couples can protect against these implications. Given the role of negative affect in the association between neuroticism and relationship difficulties, and given the role of sex in reducing negative affect, the current 8-wave longitudinal study of 72 newlywed couples tested the prediction that sexual frequency would moderate the association between neuroticism and marital satisfaction. Lagged multilevel modeling analyses supported this prediction. Specifically, although neuroticism was negatively associated with changes in marital satisfaction among spouses engaging in less frequent sex over the prior 6 months, neuroticism was unrelated to changes in satisfaction among spouses reporting more frequent sex over the prior 6 months. These findings join others in highlighting the importance of considering the broader context of the relationship to developing a complete understanding of relationship development.

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