Positive marital illusions: Self-enhancement or relationship enhancement?

Blaine J. Fowers, Eileen M. Lyons, Kelly H. Montel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Positive marital illusions have been found in several research paradigms: in marital conventionalization scales that have overly positive descriptions; in marital attribution research; and in overestimates of marital stability. There is also a large literature documenting self-enhancing positive illusions, such as unrealistically high self-evaluations, overestimates of personal control, and unrealistic optimism. This study examined positive illusions about marriage in terms of whether they are primarily related to the self-enhancing illusion of optimism or more closely related to the quality of the relationship. Results from individual- and dyadic-level analyses suggest that positive illusions about marriage are more strongly associated with the quality of the marriage than with optimism, pessimism, or social desirability. The results are discussed in terms of a marital satisfaction maintenance pattern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-208
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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