The Influence of Anxiety and Mindfulness on Relationship Quality: An Investigation of Comparative and Dyadic Effects
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Human Development and Family Studies
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The primary concern of all social scientists is to better quantify domains of human functioning in order to elucidate pathways for the effective pursuit of human flourishing. Relationship functioning has been consistently shown to directly impact individual functioning, therefore, the study of intimate relationships has long captivated researchers intent on maximizing human flourishing. The current study serves to assist in the pursuit of greater human flourishing by advancing understandings of how anxiety and trait mindfulness influence relationship quality over time. Using an actor-partner interdependence model in an ethnically and economically diverse sample of 217 heterosexual couples (N = 434), we examined the relative predictability of anxiety and mindfulness and the influences of both actors and partners on reports of relationship quality six months later. Results indicate that the actor’s level of trait mindfulness at baseline was significantly related to both men’s and women’s relationship quality six months later and women’s levels of trait mindfulness predicted partners’ relationship quality six months later. Additionally, women’s levels of general anxiety were significantly and positively related to their own relationship quality six months later. Overall, it appears that women’s baseline mindfulness is the comparatively strongest predictor of relationship quality reported by both individuals in a couple, influencing both their own and their partner’s relationship quality six months later. These findings suggest that mindfulness exerts a significant influence on relationship quality for both individuals and their partners and is thus an important point of intervention for maximizing relationship functioning. The current study advances both clinical and prevention literatures as it is guided explicitly by theory and it utilizes a large, diverse sample of couples. Suggestions for preventionists, interventionists, and researchers are discussed.