The experience and expression of anger, guilt, and sadness in marriage: An equity theory explanation

Laura Guerrero, Angela G. La Valley, Lisa Farinelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


This study examines how expressions of anger, guilt, and sadness are related to (in)equity and marital satisfaction. Data from 92 couples demonstrated that being overbenefited was positively associated with guilt, whereas being underbenefited was positively associated with anger. For wives, being underbenefited was also positively associated with sadness. Results also revealed that (i) people who perceived equity reported using more constructive, prosocial emotional expressions, (ii) underbenefited people reported using more destructive, antisocial emotional expression, and (iii) overbenefited people reported using both prosocial and antisocial emotional expressions. Both husbands and wives reported higher levels of marital satisfaction when they perceived themselves to be treated equitably or to be overbenefited as compared to underbenefited. Results also suggested that angry feelings and aggressive expressions of anger mediated the relation between underbenefiting inequity and martial satisfaction, and that the way people express anger mediated the relationship between anger and marital satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-724
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Emotional expressions
  • Emotions
  • Equity
  • Inequity
  • Marital satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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