Age differences in goal priorities in marriage

Tianyuan LI, Vivian Hiu Ling TSANG, Jacky Yiu Cheung LEUNG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


The socioemotional selectivity theory argues that the priority of different life goals changes across life span. Because of differences in future time perspective, young adults tend to emphasize more on future-oriented goals while older adults tend to emphasize more on emotional meaningful goals. The dynamic goal theory of marital satisfaction applies the concept of goal priority in the context of marriage and specifies three types of marital goals, namely personal growth goals, instrumental goals, and companionship goals. The current study aims to develop a valid scale to measure different types of marital goals using Rasch modeling, and to examine age differences in the three types of marital goals. Initial items measuring each type of marital goals were created based on an interview of 133 adults of varying age. Then, a total of 298 participants (149 females; Meanage = 47.10 years, SDage = 16.00 years; age range = 18 – 90 years) were recruited from local communities of Hong Kong to rate the initial items of the Marital Needs Scale as well as items from other criterion variables. The responses were analyzed using Rasch modeling. Items were examined in terms of item fit, unidimensionality, and differential item functioning. Unsatisfactory items were removed from the scale. Regression analyses demonstrate that personal growth, instrumental, and affectionate need was related to achievement motivation, materialism, and components of love respectively, suggesting that the three subscales were indeed measuring different aspects of marital goals. More importantly, age was related positively to instrumental need and negatively to affectionate need. The results provide empirical evidence regarding different aspects of marital goals and the change goal priority across life span. However, the age differences in goal priority are not completely consistent with the arguments of the dynamic goal theory of marital satisfaction. Potential implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
EventInternational Behavioral Health Conference: "Multiplicity in action for better health" - Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong
Duration: 16 Jan 201617 Jan 2016


ConferenceInternational Behavioral Health Conference: "Multiplicity in action for better health"
Abbreviated titleBeHealth 2016
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
Internet address


Li, T., Tsang, V. H. L., & Leung, J. Y. C. (2016, January). Age differences in goal priorities in marriage. Poster presented at The International Behavioral Health Conference (BeHealth 2016): Multiplicity in action for better health, Prince Of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong, China.


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