The Big Five and enduring marriages

M. Brent Donnellan, Rand D. Conger, Chalandra M. Bryant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

203 Scopus citations


The present investigation tested the relations between the Big Five dimensions of personality and the marital relationships of over 400 couples using both observational and questionnaire data. Four major findings emerged from these analyses. First, self-reports of neuroticism were positively correlated with negative interactions and negatively correlated with global evaluations of the marriage. Second, self-reports of agreeableness were negatively correlated with negative interactions and generally positively correlated with global evaluations of the marriage. Third, self-reports of openness were negatively correlated with observer reports of negative interactions. Fourth, self-reports of openness by wives were positively correlated with global reports of sexual satisfaction. These findings suggest that agreeableness and openness deserve increased attention as significant correlates of close relationships. Discussion emphasizes the importance of intrapersonal factors for understanding marital relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-504
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (Grants MH00567, MH19734, MH43270, MH48165, and MH51361), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant DS05347), the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health (Grant MCJ-109572), the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Adolescent Development Among Youth in High-Risk Settings, and the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station (Project No. 3320). Kali H. Trzesniewski and Dannelle Larsen-Rife provided helpful comments on an earlier draft. Xiaojia Ge and Richard W. Robins provided valuable background insight. Janet N. Melby graciously provided interobserver reliabilities.


  • Big five
  • Close relationships
  • Marital interaction
  • Marriage
  • Personality


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