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Interpersonal perceptions : a comparison between distressed alcoholic couples and distressed, nonalcoholic couples Newman, Jennifer Anne


Interpersonal perception was investigated with respect to distressed, alcoholic couples as compared to distressed, nonalcoholic couples. Twenty couples in each group were screened for their distress levels (Dyadic Adjustment Scale), drinking behaviour (Goodwin Criteria Checklist), and for possible psychiatric symptomatology (Symptom Checklist 90 Revised). Their perceptions of themselves and their partners in the relationship were compared through the use of the Structure Analysis of Social Behavior (SASB). Although there were no differences between the two groups on several Initiating and Responding Focus variables, important significant differences were evident between the alcoholic and distressed men and the distressed women and women married to alcoholics. The nonsignificant results confirmed the troubled nature of the marriages studied and provided a context for the significant differences found between the two groups. Specifically, alcoholic men viewed themselves to be more hostile towards their spouses than did the distressed men. Plus, the alcoholic men believed their spouses to be more helpful and protective of them than did the distressed men. Similarily, the distressed men viewed their spouses to be more hostile toward them than did the alcoholic men. Women married to alcoholics viewed their spouses to be more hostile towards them than did the distressed women. The interpersonal perceptions revealed by the alcoholic couple group seem to imply the existence of complementary marital patterns. That is, alcoholic husbands viewed their wives to be helpful and protective of them while they viewed themselves to be hostile toward their wives. Their wives, on the other hand, viewed themselves to be guarded while they viewed their spouses to be hostile towards them. However, further research is required to expand upon this interpersonal description of alcoholic couple interactions.

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