Personal vulnerabilities and assortative mate selection among newlywed spouses

Joseph M. Trombello, Dominik Schoebi, Thomas N. Bradbury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Assortative-mating theories propose that individuals select romantic relationship partners who are similar to them on positive and negative qualities. Furthermore, stress-generation and intergenerational transmission of divorce models argue that one's depression history or family-of-origin relationship problems predict qualities of a marital partner that predispose them to relationship distress. We analyzed data from 172 newlywed couples to examine predictors and mediators of a marital partner's risk index. First, an index of one's own and one's partner risk was created through factor analysis and was comprised of measures that indicate insecurity about oneself. This index was significantly correlated with baseline marital satisfaction and, among men, steps toward divorce at follow-up. Then, structural equation modeling tested direct and indirect pathways predicting partner's risk index, analyzing prior depression history and family-of-origin relational impairment as predictors and one's own risk index as the mediator. Results demonstrated that own risk index reliably predicted partner's risk, while own risk index also mediated the relationship between own family-of-origin relational dysfunction/depression history and partner's risk index. These results support assortative mating theories and suggest that the association between adverse family-of-origin relationships or depression history and the risk profile in one's marital partner is explained by one's own risk profile.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-553
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Assortative mating
  • Couples
  • Depression
  • Marriage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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