Cornelia Vos

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Delbert Hayden, Elsie Dotson, Daniel Roenker

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


It was predicted that the level of complementarity of birth-order position is positively associated with marital adjustment. This hypothesis was developed from Adlerian (1959) theory about the effects of birth-order position on personality formation and from the Toman (1961) duplication theorem. The Spanier Dyadic Adjustment Scale (1976) was given to 327 married women. An analysis of variance revealed no significant differences between the various combinations of birth order (no data were available for the only-with-only combination due to insufficient number of subjects in this group). Correspondingly, level of complementarity of birth order was also found to be unassociated with marital adjustment. It was suggested that reenactment of sibling relationships, if it occurs, may introduce negative as well as positive patterns of interaction. It was proposed that research on the association between different patterns of interaction and birth-order combination may yield more results.

It was also predicted that combinations of oldest-born husbands and later-born wives would manifest greater marital adjustment that combinations of later-born and oldest-born wives. However, marital adjustment was found to be greater, although not significantly, for those couples where the wife was oldest-born and the husband was later-born. It was suggested that this finding may indicate the replacement of the traditional by a more symmetrical marital structure and that it may indicate a superior preparation for managing a household on the part of oldest-born women, which preparation may have resulted in greater marital adjustment.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology