Relational expectancy fulfillment as an explanatory variable for distinguishing couple types

Douglas Kelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Previous research demonstrates that Traditional and Separate-Traditional (Mixed) couples report highest levels of marital satisfaction, followed by Independents and Separates (Fitzpatrick, 1988). This research project used an expectancy fulfillment framework to understand these differences in marital satisfaction across couple type. Focusing on relational expectations (Kelley & Burgoon, 1991) as critical variables to relational functioning, behavior-expectation discrepancy scores across 7 relational dimensions (intimacy, dominance, equality-trust, receptivity, distance, noncomposure-arousal, and informality) were examined by couple type. As predicted, Traditional couples generally reported more expectancy fulfillment and relational satisfaction than did other couple types, and Separates less. Only informality failed to distinguish between any 2 couple types. Interestingly, Traditionals experienced primarily positive expectancy violations, whereas Separates experienced more negative violations than did other couple types. Couples also differed as to what they considered a positive or negative violation. Both couple type and relational discrepancy scores were found to be important predictors of relational satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)420-442
Number of pages23
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Relational expectancy fulfillment as an explanatory variable for distinguishing couple types'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this