Group-Based Trajectory Modeling of Marital Quality: A Critical Review

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The predominant view in both the research literature and practice is that marital quality declines over time. Although the majority of research using variable-centered approaches such as latent growth curve modeling supports this view, contemporary research using person-centered group-based trajectory modeling techniques suggest a variety of trajectories of marital quality development, including stability, decline, and, occasionally, rebound following decline. The present review synthesizes this current body of research and summarizes the variety of trajectories found across 14 reports examining both positive and negative marital quality dimensions. The theories informing this body of research and the predictors of the various trajectories are also reviewed. We conclude with a discussion of methodological and practical implications of the findings to date and introduce the honeymoon-as-ceiling effect, a phrase we use to capture the consistent finding that marital quality rarely increases beyond its initial value.



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