Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Sociology and Anthropology


The research used the Berger and Luckmann (1966) treatment of alternations--radical life changes--to examine divorce. The relationship between present adjustment of divorced persons and retrospective assessments of their former marriage was examined. It was hypothesized that divorced persons make negative assessments of their former marriage, and these assessments are related to adjustment. It further proposed that associational relationships provide support for these assessments. The model indicated that retrospective assessments are related to abandonment of the former spouse and involvement with a new intimate, which is related to adjustment;The respondents included 87 divorced persons, whose divorces were granted between January 1, 1979, and August 17, 1981, in Custer County, Oklahoma, who replied to a mailed questionnaire. Since the response rate was low (29%), it was concluded that the respondents do not represent the population;The dependent variable, adjustment of divorced persons, was operationalized as the Bradburn Affect Balance Scale. The Marriage Assessment Scale was created to measure the extent of positive and negative assessments made regarding the former marriage;The findings indicate that divorced persons make negative assessments of their former marriage (e.g., they make negative rather than positive responses on the Marriage Assessment Scale), and that some of these are related to adjustment. Since the model was not supported by the data, an alternative model, which proposed that associational relationships are related to retrospective assessments of the former marriage and these are related to adjustment, was tested. Some support was found for this model, especially regarding the former spouse relationship. Divorced persons with low contact with the former spouse at present are more likely to have negative assessments of the past, and have better adjustment. Having a new intimate at present is highly correlated with adjustment, although negative assessments of the former marriage do not serve as intervening variables as proposed by the model. Apparently the new intimate relationship is oriented toward the here and now, and less likely to be involved with any assessment of the past. It was concluded that divorce represents a radical life change, but it lacks the supportive associational relationships which provide negative assessments of the past and consequences for adjustment;Reference;Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann. 1966. The Social Construction of Reality. Garden City: Anchor.



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Phillip David Holley



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152 pages