Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Bernice Lott


A longitudinal study, that assessed the effects of changes in education on changes in decision-making and satisfaction in ongoing intimate relationship, was conducted with 78 women re-entry students who, as matriculants in an undergraduate degree granting program in the College of Continuing Education at URI in Providence in 1988, participated in this study at Time 1 and again three and one half years later at Time 2. Three measures each of decision-making, satisfaction, and perceived partner support for their education, and two measures of education were obtained. Women reported on demographic information i.e., age, sex, income, employment status, and children in household, for themselves and their partners, as well as educational barriers, recent life experiences, and type (cohabiting, married), duration, and stability of their relationships.

Within subjects repeated measures were analyzed using SPSSX MANOV A. Pearson and partial correlations and ANOV As were also conducted. As predicted, with the effect of change in income controlled, women who increased their education level, reported both increased decision-making and increased relationship satisfaction, and changes in decision-making were positively correlated with changes in satisfaction. As predicted, changes in relationship satisfaction and changes in perception of partner's support for their education were positively correlated. Whereas change in partner's income was correlated with change in relationship satisfaction, only for women who had not yet completed their undergraduate degree, change in the relative income between the participant and her partner was correlated with changes in relationship satisfaction for all women. Furthermore, as predicted, women with higher incomes at Time 2 than at Time 1 did have more global decision-making power in their relationships provided that their partners did not have increases in income during that time period; contrary findings were obtained with moresay decision-making in this group. There was no support for the hypothesis that women with lower incomes at Time 2 than at Time 1 would have decreased in their decision-making power; however, if the income level of their partners increased from Time 1 to Time 2 while their own income did not, the participant's own decision-making did decrease during that period in support of the hypothesis.



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