Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Daniel L. Carlson

Second Advisor

Dr. Dawn M. Baunach

Third Advisor

Dr. Elisabeth O. Burgess


The current study expands upon existing developmental research on marital attitude change by examining how attitudes toward marriage and long-term relationships may vary across emerging adulthood. Utilizing five waves of data from the Center on Young Adult Health and Development’s College Life Study, discrete-time survival analysis and latent basis growth curve analysis are employed to assess the change—and predictors of such change—in three measures of relationship attitudes (desire for marriage, desire for long-term relationships, and importance of marriage and long-term relationships) of over 900 college students. Results indicate positive change in all three measures of attitudes, with most emerging adults desiring and placing importance on marriage and long-term relationships from the very beginning of college. Predictors of attitude change included sex, race, experience of parental death, student status, educational aspirations, and total number of sex partners. Results suggest a need for more longitudinal research in this area.