Couples and Well-Being Project, 1993-1995, Detroit Metropolitan Area (ICPSR 22081)

Published: Dec 10, 2013

Principal Investigator(s):
Linda K. Acitelli, University of Houston; Joseph Veroff, University of Michigan; Elizabeth Douvan, University of Michigan

Version V1

The primary aims of this research program were to explore the effects that thinking and talking about relationships under various conditions have on the relationship and to examine the underlying factors that determine whether the effects are positive or negative. Satisfying personal relationships contribute to an individual's psychological and physical health. By thinking about what their relationship is like and talking to each other about it, partners can often strengthen their relationship and contribute to their well-being.

The sample is composed of 90 unmarried couples and 148 married couples. Wave 1 is 238 couples (476 individuals) interviewed in 1993. Wave 2 consists of 70 percent of the original sample 2 years later (1995). The average length of time in the relationship is approximately 10 years for all couples (3.3 years for unmarried couples and 13.9 years for married couples).

Studies have been conducted to more fully understand the concept of relationship awareness and to identify the conditions that moderate the influence of relationship awareness on the partners in the relationship. Investigations have also focused on relationship talk as a way to maintain and enhance the relationship, and how social support in close relationships is associated with depression, anxiety, and relationship satisfaction. Gender differences are found not only in the means of relationship awareness variables, but also in the associations of such variables with relationship outcomes. Another goal of this program was to examine the contextual factors, correlates and consequences of relational talk by observing partners as they interact with each other.

By examining partners' tendencies to think and talk about relationships, this research program aimed to uncover the everyday workings of healthy relationships rather than focus on partners in conflict. In so doing, these studies may uncover ways to help couples prevent unnecessary distress not by avoiding the conflicts that are sometimes inevitable, but by articulating the ways that people can negotiate their relationships with one another.

Respondents were asked self-descriptive questions, such as how they find themselves as mature, friendly, and hardworking. Other questions focus on respondents' feelings about their relationship with their spouse/partner and with others.

Acitelli, Linda K., Veroff, Joseph, and Douvan, Elizabeth. Couples and Well-Being Project, 1993-1995, Detroit Metropolitan Area. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-12-10.

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United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Mental Health (MH046567)

Census tract

1993-03 -- 1994-01


The open-ended data are not included in this dataset because they were coded by the research team, and the analyses of some of these data were not yet complete. Further, there are responses to stories that the principal investigator wrote and analyses have yet to be published.

The area probability sample consists of 238 couples screened from 2,319 households in the tri-county Detroit metropolitan area. There are 90 unmarried couples, 75 couples married 10 years or less, and 73 couples married between 10 and 25 years. Overall, there was a 70 percent response rate, meaning that 70 percent of those couples (both partners) who were eligible agreed to participate in this study. To avoid the complications of studying remarriage, only couples who had never been married or were in their first marriages were eligible to participate in this study. An unmarried couple would be eligible if both partners had never been married, and if they had been in the relationship for 6 months or more. Married couples were eligible if both partners were in their first marriage and had been married 25 years or less. For more details about the sampling, please refer to the following sources: (1) Acitelli, L.K. (1997). "Sampling couples to understand them: Mixing the theoretical with the practical." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14 (2)243-261. (2) NIMH FINAL REPORT, which is included as part of this data collection.

The sample is a probability sample of 238 (90 unmarried, 148 married) couples from the Detroit metropolitan area.



event/transaction data

experimental data

observational data

survey data

face-to-face interview

mixed mode

paper and pencil interview (PAPI)

telephone interview

The response rate is 70 percent. See also Acitelli, L.K. (1997). "Sampling couples to understand them: Mixing the theoretical with the practical." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14 (2)243-261.



2013-12-10 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created variable labels and/or value labels.
  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

The probability of being included in the sample differed by marital status, so all analyses using the total sample should include marital status as a control variable. See also Acitelli, L.K. (1997). "Sampling couples to understand them: Mixing the theoretical with the practical." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14 (2)243-261.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

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