This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Relationship Between Couples’ Hopelessness and Relationship Satisfaction in Therapy Moderated by Change in Ineffective Arguing Over Time




Murtagh, Shelby

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Human Development and Family Studies


Relationship satisfaction is a complex construct that has been studied for decades. While there are a variety of known variables that influence relationship satisfaction, such as conflict management, few studies have examined the role that hopelessness plays in the change in relationship satisfaction, particularly in the context of couple’s therapy. Unsurprisingly, there is little to no research on the moderating effect of conflict management, measured through the Ineffective Arguing Index (Kurdek, 1994), on the relationship between change in hopelessness and change in relationship satisfaction over time, which this current study aims to investigate. Participants were 302 participants who attended couple’s therapy from a large university in the Southeastern United States between 2016 and 2020 (mean age = 31.83 (SD = 10.44); 51.7% female; 48.3% male; 83.2% White; 9.6% Black). Change in hopelessness was measured using a 6 question Likert-type scale about perceived hopelessness in the couple relationship; change in couple conflict was measured using the Ineffective Arguing Inventory (IAI) (Kurdek, 1994). Change relationship satisfaction was measured using the Couple Satisfaction Index (CSI-16) (Funk & Rogge, 2007) across two time points. While a moderation was not found between the variables, findings suggest differences in hopelessness and IAI between men and women. Change in hopelessness accounted for 22.8% of the variance for change in couple’s satisfaction in males from pre-therapy to the fourth session of service. In comparison, hopelessness accounted for 37.3% of the variance in women. Future studies should focus on the vulnerability hypothesis of the hopelessness theory, comparing clinical populations with control groups, comparing hopeful and hopeless couples, and investigating the mechanisms that may affect couples’ feelings of hopelessness.