Politics and Marital Quality: Or How I Wasted My Morning

I had been wondering if political orientation or discrepancies in political orientation might be related to relationship quality. I think this is an interesting question in light of a close presidential election. Fortunately, I had access to some data on these variables from around 330 heterosexual married couples. I conducted some preliminary analyses this morning and the short story is a bunch of null findings.

Measures: Political orientation was measured on the “traditional seven-point scale” where 1=extremely liberal to 7 = extremely conservative (see Knight, 1999). Marital quality was measured using five items from the quality of marriage index (Norton, 1983).  The internal consistencies were typical of this measure (alphas ≥ .90 for wives and husbands)

Descriptive Results: Husbands were slightly more conservative than wives (Husband Mean = 4.63, Wife Mean = 4.33, Pooled SD = 1.36; d = .22). Husbands and wives did not differ in terms of marital quality (Husband Mean = 4.26, Wife Mean = 4.25, Pooled SD = .83, d = .01). There was evidence of spousal similarity for political orientation (ICC = .54) and marital quality (ICC = .62). None of the zero-order correlations involving political orientation and marital quality were impressive or statistically significant (largest r = -.05).

Actor Partner Interdependence Model (APIM) Results: I squared the difference between political orientation scores from husbands and wives and used that score in a very basic dyadic model.  I specified the APIM for interchangeable dyads with the exception of allowing for a mean-level difference in political orientation between wives and husbands.  None of the relevant effects were statistically different from zero:  Actor effect: .008 (SE = .023); Partner Effect: -.015 (SE = .023); Discrepancy Effect: -.013 (SE = .016). Thus, political orientation did not seem to matter for the individual’s report of marital quality or for her/his partner’s report of marital quality.  The discrepancy did not seem to matter either.

A weakness is the single-item measure of political orientation and the fact that these couples had been together for a period of time (Average age of husbands was around 37 years versus 35 years for wives).  Nonetheless, these initial results were not compelling to me.  Darn! It would have made an interesting story.  If anyone else has better data on this issue or more convincing results, let me know.

Two Types of Researchers?

Last winter I gave a quick brown bag where I speculated about the possibility of two distinct types of researchers. I drew from a number of sources to construct my prototypes. To be clear, I do not suspect that all researchers will fall neatly into one of these two types. I suspect these are so-called “fuzzy” types. I also know that at least one of my colleagues hates this idea. Thus, I apologize in advance.

Regardless, I think there is something to my working taxonomy and I would love to get data on these issues. Absent data, this will have to remain purely hypothetical. There is of course a degree of hyperbole mixed in here as well. Enjoy (or not)!

Approach I Approach II
Ioannidis (2008) Label: Aggressive Discoverer Reflective Replicator
Abelson (1995) Label: Brash/Liberal Stuffy/Conservative
Tetlock (2005) or Berlin (1953) Label: Hedgehogs Foxes
Focus: Discovery Finding Sturdy Effects
Preference: Novelty Definitiveness
Research Materials: Private possessions Public goods
Ideal Reporting Standard: Interesting findings only Everything
Analytic Approach: Find results to support view Concerned about sensitivity
Favorite Sections of Papers: Introduction & Discussion Method & Results
Favorite Kind of Article: Splashy reports that get media coverage Meta-Analyses
View on Confidence Intervals: Unnecessary clutter The smaller the better
Stand on the NHST Controversy: What controversy? Jacob Cohen was a god
View on TED Talks: Yes. Please pick me. Meh!
Greatest Fear: Getting scooped Having findings fail to replicate
Orientation in the Field: Advocacy Skepticism
Error Risk: Type I Type II