Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Marital shared problem-solving has been considered composed of communication and problem-solving skills components. However, the definitions of these components have been confounded by both theories and previous assessment devices. This research project separated the component skills, developed a self-report measure, The Shared Problem-Solving Inventory, and investigated the interrelationship of these skills.;Using a construct approach to test construction, the problem-solving and supportive communication skills were defined, and items were written from those definitions. A novel test format attempted to simulate marital discussions. Two series of multiple-choice items were developed as separate discussions on the typical marital issues of "money" and "contact". The stimulus was written as a "spouse" statement and the respondent chose a reply from six alternative response statements, each scored for both skills. The first study, designed for empirical selection, eliminated items demonstrating poor item characteristics.;The validation study of the Shared Problem-Solving Inventory was based on data from 42 married couples. The inventory scales and ratings of couple interactions were evaluated for convergent and discriminant validity using the multitrait-multimethod matrix. Supportive communication scales showed stronger validity than the problem-solving scales which seemed contaminated with supportive communication and were issue dependent. Construct validity was evaluated by examining the expected differential performance of distressed and nondistressed couples. Results paralleled those found for convergent and discriminant validity. As typical in interaction research, couples reciprocated negative supportive communication.;A revised model of problem-solving was proposed with the key element being the ability to stay focused on the spouse's concern. It was speculated that difficulties in previous marital shared problem-solving research resulted partially from the adoption of an individual problem-solving model.;Given the mixed results for problem-solving, the Shared Problem-Solving Inventory is most appropriate for the assessment of supportive communication. Implications for marital therapy and future research were discussed.



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