Sex Roles, Vol. 42, Nos. 9/10, 2000
Changing Marriage Role Expectations: 1961–1996
Darla R. Botkin,
M. O’Neal Weeks, and Jeanette E. Morris
University of Kentucky
The present study is an update of a longitudinal study of marriage role
expectations begun in 1961. Data collected in 1990 and 1996 have been added
to the data set, allowing for comparisons of female college students’ marriage
role expectations from 1961, 1972, 1978, 1984, 1990, and 1996. Comparisons
include the females’ traditional vs. egalitarian expectations for their marriage
overall as well as on the seven subscales of authority, homemaking, child care,
personal characteristics, social participation, education, and employment and
support. There were signiﬁcant changes toward more egalitarian expectations
overall and on all subscales except authority from 1961 to 1972. Since 1972,
the only signiﬁcant changes were on the subscales of authority, homemaking,
and child care, with no signiﬁcant changes on any subscales or on overall
expectations since 1978.
Familial and extrafamilial gender roles have been a focus of social and
research interest since World War II. Much of this interest, especially
among social and behavioral researchers, has been to identify and under-
stand changes in these roles as the sociopolitical milieu changes across time.
Since changes in women’s roles seem to reﬂect the changing sociopolitical
climate and are often the catalysts for changes in men’s roles, much of the
research has focused on the changing roles of women in American society
and the factors affecting and affected by women’s changing roles.
Furthermore, since women in this society have been seen as the primary
bearers of family-related patterns, practices, rituals, and roles, considerable
attention has been given to how all these changes are impacting the family.
For example, Waite, Goldscheider, and Witsberger (1986) reported that
young women’s attitudes, expectations, and plans have been shifting away
from traditional family roles partly because of the increased amount of
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of Family Studies, University
of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40506-0054. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
0360-0025/00/0500-0933$18.00/0 2000 Plenum Publishing Corporation