Predictors of marital power in stepfather families: A test of normative-resource theory

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Committee Member

Margaret Crosbie-Burnett, Committee Chair


A secondary analysis was performed on data collected using the Stepfamily Adjustment Scale (SAS) (Crosbie-Burnett, 1989) to measure decision-making power in 85 working and middle-class, Midwestern mother-stepfather couples. A model of normative-resource theory was tested by using spouses' responses to questions assessing (a) family structure, (b) resources of the spouses, and (c) decision making in the following domains: discipline of the children, and "getting one's way" which includes decisions about money. Regression analyses identified the norms and resources associated with marital power in each domain. Biological mother's decision-making power in child rearing was predicted by higher stepfather income, by stepfathers having children from a prior relationship, and by wives being older or about the same age as their husbands. Wives' education and quality of child's relationship with the biological father were not related to any of the dependent variables. Limited support for normative-resource theory was obtained in the prediction of biological mothers' decision making power in child-rearing and general decisions, and in the prediction of stepfathers' power in general decision making. Post-hoc analysis revealed a positive relationship between wives' marital happiness and their own child rearing power, as well as stepfathers' power in general decision-making. For husbands, marital happiness was related to their own general decision-making power. Theoretical, research, and clinical implications were discussed.


Psychology, Social; Education, Educational Psychology; Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

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