Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Galen Alessi

Second Advisor

Dr. Karen Blaisure

Third Advisor

Dr. Scott Gayner

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Amy Naugle


The purpose of the present study was to experimentally examine the effects of the Speaker-Listener technique when the couple was instructed to either (a) discuss an issue within, or (b) outside the marriage, on couples’ initial and long-term levels of marital distress and satisfaction. This study was designed to examine Gottman, et al. (1998) hypothesis that the Speaker-Listener skills training technique may be effective and lead to improved levels of marital satisfaction when the couple is complaining about a third party, but complaining about each other may become divisive and weaken the marital relationship, and that such an effect would be amplified for couples who were maritally distressed prior to the training. Behavioral and physiological data of marital interactions were coded, and, while definitive conclusions cannot be made due to low frequency behaviors and sequential patterns, exploratory lag sequential analyses and frequency analyses suggested that the Speaker-Listener technique reduces negativity but does not increase positivity in marital interactions. There were significant differences in positive reciprocity across the two experimental groups, but no differences in negativity. Additionally, discrepancies existed between couples’ self-report of behaviors and the behaviors emitted in session, which has implications for clinical practice. Possible interpretations of these data and areas for fiirther investigation axe suggested. R ep

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access