In this study, we tested the association between identity formation and intimacy formation in a diverse sample of pregnant cohabitating couples (N=127 individuals). Using S. K. Whitbourne's identity process theory, we examined how identity style (balanced, accommodative, assimilative) is associated with various aspects of relationship quality. As hypothesized, a balanced identity style (ability to maintain self-stability while retaining flexibility) is associated with positive relationship quality (higher relational maintenance), whereas an accommodative identity style (reliance on external sources of authority for inner guidance) is associated with negative relationship quality (lower commitment, lower satisfaction, lower love, higher conflict, higher ambivalence). Consistent with E. H. Erikson's theory of psychosocial development, individuals high on accommodative identity style report difficulty negotiating many aspects of their romantic relationship, a pattern that may serve to exacerbate the stress typically associated with the transition to parenthood for cohabiting couples.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science