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Studies with Prepare-Enrich Inventories

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Overview of Cohabitation Research (2007)

By: David H. Olson and Amy Olson-Sigg

There are now over 5.1 million heterosexual couples cohabiting in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006), which is a tenfold increase from 1970 when only 500,000 couples were cohabiting.

According to the renowned demographer Larry Bumpass, the current rate of cohabitation before marriage is nearly 70%. This means that for 70% of young people, their first couple experience is cohabitation rather than marriage. About half of cohabitating couples marry or break up after 2 years of cohabitation (Kennedy and Bumpass, 2007).

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Effectiveness of PREPARE Program (2003)

By: Luke Knutson and David H. Olson

This study evaluated the effectiveness of the PREPARE Program compared to a control group. The study demonstrates the significant impact the program has in preparing couples for a successful marriage.

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Effectiveness of EMPOWERING Couples Program (2003)

By: Ted Burleson, Ph.D.

This study demonstrated the positive impact of the Empowering Couples Program on married couples who took the program. Significant improvements occurred on most of the ENRICH scales. They also highly recommended the program for others.

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Overview of PREPARE/ENRICH Program (1997)

By: David H. Olson & Amy K. Olson

The couple inventories and program have high levels of reliability, validity and clinical utility. A typology of couples identifies four premarital types (vitalized, harmonious, traditional and conflicted) and a fifth marital type (devitalized). A Couple and Family Map is used to describe the couple relationship and family of origin. Four personality scales (assertiveness, self-confidence, avoidance and partner dominance) are included in Version 2000. This paper describes the couple assessment scales (PREPARE, PREPARE-MC, ENRICH and MATE), materials provided to the couple and to the counselor, six goals of the program and integrated couple exercises.

Reference: Journal of Family Ministry, 1997, Vol.11, No. 4, 28-53.

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Studies Predicting Divorce and Marital Satisfaction

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National Survey of Marital Strengths (2000)

By: David H. Olson

This study evaluated strengths of marriage versus the exclusive focus on problems using a sample of 21,501 married couples using ENRICH which focuses on 20 areas and 195 questions.

The results are also included in the book Empowering Couples: Building on Your Strengths. The book is designed to help couples develop the strengths identified in happy and successful marriages.

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Predicting Marital Success for Premarital Couple Types Based on PREPARE (1996)

By: Blaine J. Fowers, Kelly H. Montel & David H. Olson

Recent studies have shown that group differences in marital stability and satisfaction can be predicted based on premarital relationship quality. There is also a growing literature indicating that there are distinct types of relationships, both premaritally and developmentally over time. This study examined the relationship between the four premarital types (Vitalized, Harmonious, Traditional, and Conflicted) identified by Fowers and Olson (1992) and relationship outcome over a 3-year period with 393 couples. A substantial relationship was found, with conflicted couples being the most likely to separate or divorce. Vitalized couples had the highest levels of satisfaction, followed by Harmonious, Traditional, and Conflicted couples. Traditional couples were less likely to have divorced than Harmonious couples, even though Harmonious couples had higher premarital relationship satisfaction scores.

Reference: Journal of Marital & Family Therapy, 1996 Vol. 22, No. 1, 103-111.

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Predicting Marital Satisfaction Using PREPARE: A Replication Study (1989)

By: Andrea S. Larsen & David H. Olson

This study clearly replicated the previous findings which demonstrated the predictive validity of PREPARE. Like the previous study, this longitudinal study was a 3-year follow-up of 179 couples who took PREPARE during their engagement. As in the initial longitudinal study, PREPARE predicted, with about 80% accuracy, couples who got divorced from those that were happily married. Also, the same linear trend in PREPARE scores was found (highest to lowest scores): happily married, unhappily married, cancelled/delayed marriage, and separated/divorced. This study further indicates the importance of the premarital period as the foundation for marriage and the ability of PREPARE to identify high-risk premarital couples who could benefit from premarital counseling. Premarital counseling could potentially help these high risk couples develop a more satisfying marriage.

Reference: Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 1989, Vol. 15, No. 3, 311-322

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ENRICH Marital Inventory: Discriminant Validity and Cross-Validity Assessment (1989)

By: Blaine J. Fowers & David H. Olson

To assess the validity and clinical utility of the marital inventory ENRICH, a discriminant validity study was conducted using a national sample of 5039 married couples. The sample was randomly split in order to form a cross-validation group. ENRICH is a multidimensional scale and two types of analysis were conducted to assess the value of these various scales. Results from discriminant analysis indicated that using either the individual scores or couples’ scores, happily married couples could be discriminated from unhappily married couples with 85-95% accuracy. These results were cross-validated with a second sample. Using regression analysis, it was clearly demonstrated that background factors account for little of the variance in discriminating happy from unhappily married couples compared to their relationship dynamics, i.e., scale scores. All ENRICH scales except equalitarian roles proved significant, indicating the validity of a multidimensional inventory.

Reference: Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 1989, Vol. 15, No. 1, 65-79

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Predicting Marital Success With PREPARE: A Predictive Validity Study (1986)

By: Blaine J. Fowers & David H. Olson

In order to determine the predictive validity of the premarital inventory PREPARE, this study assessed the utility of PREPARE in predicting marital success. A 3-year follow-up study was conducted with 164 couples who took PREPARE during their engagement. As hypothesized, it was found that satisfied couples scored significantly higher on the inventory than dissatisfied couples, divorced couples, and couples who cancelled their marriage. It was also hypothesized and found that dissatisfied married couples did not differ significantly from couples who cancelled their marriage or those who divorced. Using discriminant analysis, it was found that the PREPARE scores from 3 months before marriage could predict with 80-90% accuracy which couples were separated and divorced from those that were happily married. These findings not only demonstrate the predictive validity of PREPARE, but its potential utility in identifying high-risk couples who could benefit from more intensive premarital counseling.

Reference: Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 1986, Vol. 12, No. 4, 403-413

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Studies Identifying Types of Premarital and Married Couples

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Spouse Abuse & Marital Dynamics based on ENRICH (2003)

By: Shuji Asai & David H. Olson

This study examined spouse abuse dynamics using the data from a national sample of 20,951 couples that took the ENRICH couple inventory.

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Five Types of African-American Marriages (2001)

By: William D. Allen & David H. Olson

This study developed a marital typology based on a non-random, national sample of 415 African-American marriages who took the ENRICH marital assessment inventory. The resulting typology was compared with a similar sample of about 7,000 marriages (who also took ENRICH), including distressed couples and those seeking marital enrichment. Five types of African-American marriages were identified through cluster analysis of positive couple agreement (PCA) scores in ten relationship domains. Relationships between marital satisfaction, marital stability and the five marital types were then analyzed. The five types (from highest marital satisfaction to lowest) were labeled as vitalized, harmonious, traditional, conflicted, and devitalized. The study replicated the number and characteristics of marital types found in predominantly European-American marital samples, including the percentage of African-American marriages in each type.

Reference: Journal of Marital & Family Therapy, 2001, Vol. 27, No. 3, 301-314.

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National Survey of Marital Strengths (2000)

By: David H. Olson

This study evaluated strengths of marriage versus the exclusive focus on problems using a sample of 21,501 married couples using ENRICH which focuses on 20 areas and 195 questions.

The results are also included in the book Empowering Couples: Building on Your Strengths. The book is designed to help couples develop the strengths identified in happy and successful marriages.

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Five Types of Marriage: An Empirical Typology Based On ENRICH (1993)

By: David H. Olson & Blaine J. Fowers

This study identified five distinct types of married couples from a sample of 6,267 couples, using the marital inventory ENRICH. Profiles were derived using a three-stage cluster analytic procedure, including an exploratory cluster analysis, a replication of the exploratory results, and a cross-validation. The five-cluster solution was robust. Vitalized couples (12%) reported high relationship quality on all dimensions. Harmonious couples (11%) had relatively high relationship quality. Traditional couples (16%) had scores that were slightly above average with markedly higher scores on parenting and religious scales. Conflicted couples (25%) were characterized by moderately low scores on all but the roles scale. The Devitalized couples (36%) had the lowest scores on every ENRICH dimension.

Reference: The Family Journal, 1993, Vol. 1, No. 3, 196-207

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Seven Types of Marriage: An Empirical Typology Based On ENRICH (1992)

By: Yoav Lavee & David H. Olson

Using ENRICH, a computerized marriage assessment tool (Olson, Fournier, & Druckman, 1986), data from 8,383 couples was collected across nine dimensions of their marriage. The data was analyzed in two phases-cluster structure seeking and classification phases-by three different clustering methods (inverse factor analysis, hierarchical agglomerative, and k-means cluster analysis). Seven types of marriage were identified: Devitalized couples (40%), Financially focused couples (11%), Conflicted couples (14%), Traditional couples (10%), Balanced couples (8%), Harmonious couples (8%), and Vitalized couples (9%). The multidimensional profiles are described in relation to global measure of marital satisfaction, demographic characteristics, and clinical and research implications.

Reference: Journal of Family Psychology, 1992. Vol. 6, No. 1, 10-21

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Four Types of Premarital Couples: An Empirical Typology Based On PREPARE (1992)

By: Blaine J. Fowers & David H. Olson

This study identified 4 types of engaged couples from a sample of 5,030 couples, using the premarital inventory PREPARE. Profiles were derived using a 3-stage clustering analytic procedure, including an exploratory cluster analysis, a replication of the exploratory results, and a cross-validation analysis. All indicated that the 4-cluster solution was the best. The Vitalized couples (28%) reported high scores on all dimensions. Harmonious couples (27%) had moderately positive relationship quality. Traditional couples (23%) had moderately low intrarelationship scores but scored higher on scales assessing planning for marriage. Conflicted couples (22%) were characterized by pervasively low scores.

Reference: Journal of Family Psychology, 1992. Vol. 6, No. 1, 10-21.

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Studies on Value of Group Programs for Couples

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Effectiveness of PREPARE Program (2003)

By: Luke Knutson and David H. Olson

This study evaluated the effectiveness of the PREPARE Program compared to a control group. The study demonstrates the significant impact the program has in preparing couples for a successful marriage.

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Enriching Newlyweds: An Evaluation of Three Enrichment Programs (1995)

By: Dale R. Hawley & David H. Olson

Three marital enrichment programs were evaluated to determine their effectiveness with a newlywed population. Seventy-one couples were divided among three groups, and 28 couples were assigned to a control group. Results were mixed when treatment groups were combined and compared to the control group. While t-tests using change scores demonstrated differences on some important variables, analyses using ANCOVA demonstrated no change. Comparisons among the three programs suggested that none was clearly superior. Treatment couples reported very high levels of satisfaction with their participation in the programs, and almost all couples (98%) indicated they would recommend the programs to other newlywed couples.

Reference: American Journal of Family Therapy, 1995, Vol. 23, No. 2, 129-147

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