Attribution theory in intimate relationships: A Methodological review Academic Article uri icon


  • Recent developments in the field of marital therapy have emphasized cognitive processes influencing spouses interactions and perceptions of their marital relationship. One cognitive model receiving increasing attention in the research literature is attribution theory, which emphasizes the manner in which individuals assign responsibility for marital events to themselves, their partner, and situational factors outside the marriage. The present paper reviews conceptual and methodological advances in our understanding of attributional processes in intimate relationships. Studies are organized according to their focus on general versus specific components of attribution making, and their use of distressed versus nondistressed samples. In general, results are felt to offer strong evidence of the importance of attributional processes in determining spousal interactions and relationship satisfaction. Methodological issues in attributional research are explored, and directions for future investigations in this area are proposed. 1986 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

published proceedings

  • American Journal of Family Therapy

author list (cited authors)

  • Thompson, J. S., & Snyder, D. K.

citation count

  • 29

complete list of authors

  • Thompson, Judith S||Snyder, Douglas K

publication date

  • January 1986