Releases Marital Compatibility and Satisfaction Study Results

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Researcher Claims Compatibility Poorly Assessed, Demands Online Dating Industry Raise Standards; Research Identifies Problem Areas, Gender Differences in Compatibility in Sex, Money. today released the results of its “Marital Compatibility and Satisfaction” study. The study director, J. Donald Lawson, Ph.D., described the study as a validity assessment of a new compatibility test for couples, “The Compatible Lifestyle Questionnaire-R” (CLQ). The study also assessed the compatibility problems that couples report experiencing.

“The results of the study showed the CLQ to be highly valid. It is probably the most valid compatibility test available today,” asserted Doctor Lawson. He added that the CLQ consists of seven scales, including personality, communication and conflict resolution, sexual and romantic style, financial style, coping style, interests, and family values. It yields compatibility scores on each of the seven scales, as well as an overall composite compatibility score.

One hundred married couples participated in the study. used a proprietary method to compute couple’s CLQ scores, which was based upon similarity of responses to the CLQ, according to Doctor Lawson. Scores on the CLQ were correlated to long term relationship satisfaction. Relationship satisfaction was assessed by the couples’ scores on the “Dyadic Adjustment Scale,” (Copyright 1989, 2001, Multihealth Systems) which has been used in more than 1000 research studies to assess long term relationship adjustment and satisfaction.

“Compatibility was operationally defined as the couples’ scores on the “Dyadic Adjustment Scale.” A significant positive relationship between couples’ scores on the CLQ, and their scores on the “Dyadic Adjustment Scale,” would be indicative of the ability of the CLQ to accurately predict compatibility in the future for unmarried couples,” stated Doctor Lawson.

“The overall correlations were extremely significant for both women and men. When the overall correlations were mathematically squared, and the total variation in scores on the “Dyadic Adjustment Scale” that could be accounted for by how people responded to the CLQ was obtained, it was clear that our compatibility test accounts for at least one-third of the total variance. What this means, in a practical sense, is that up to one-third of compatibility is predicted by scores on the CLQ, while two-thirds is accounted for by other factors, such as demographics and appearance,” asserted Doctor Lawson. “Being able to account for one-third of the variance is huge. It is a much greater proportion than other compatibility tests can account for,” he added.

Couples were also asked to rate the extent that their compatibility scores on the CLQ accurately assessed the degree of compatibility in their marriage. Doctor Lawson stated that the results of statistical tests indicated that married couples agreed that the CLQ accurately assessed the degree of compatibility in their marriages. “This was an additional step we took to validate that the CLQ assessed the psychological construct of compatibility. It is something I haven’t seen other compatibility test developers do, probably because it is extremely difficult to construct a test that is accurate enough that married couples would perceive the scores they obtained to accurately reflect the degree of compatibility in each of the eight areas we assessed,” he stated.

Results of the study also indicated that compatibility scores on each of the seven CLQ scales significantly predicted relationship satisfaction for both women and men. A stronger overall relationship was found between the composite compatibility score and relationship satisfaction for both women and men than was obtained on any of the individual scales. This was interpreted to be indicative of the individual compatibility scale scores contributing additively to the overall correlation coefficient, according to Doctor Lawson.

Compatibility Poorly Assessed

Doctor Lawson questioned the degree that other online compatibility tests accurately assess the construct of compatibility. “When compatibility is operationally defined by correlating a compatibility test with an accurate test of relationship satisfaction, the correlations may be highly significant statistically, especially if the study uses a large sample. However, the test may be a relatively poor predictor of compatibility if the proportion of variance accounted for on the relationship satisfaction test by the compatibility test is less than twenty percent. I personally have not been able to find any study results that even come close to twenty percent, other than ours, which is more than thirty percent,” he stated.

He added that when the construct of compatibility is not operationally defined by a well accepted criterion outcome, such as relationship satisfaction, the ability of a test to accurately predict compatibility is even more questionable. “There is a lot of hype and marketing on the Internet that really muddies the waters when it comes to the public knowing what they are getting when they search for someone to spend the rest of their life with. This is serious business, and we need to have some agreement in the industry about what the minimum standards should be to call something a “compatibility test,”” he stated.

Minimum Standards

He added that the minimum standards should include: an operational definition of compatibility that includes a well accepted criterion outcome, such as relationship satisfaction; that users should be informed in advance if the proportion of variance accounted for between a compatibility test and its criterion test of relationship satisfaction is less than 20 percent; that compatibility test development should conform to the American Psychological Association’s standards for constructing psychological tests; and, that if any endorsements by other professionals or professional organizations are publicized, that any compensation for endorsements or prior, conflicting relationships should be publicized along with the endorsements.

Compatibility Problems/Gender Differences

The study also revealed some interesting insights into areas in which women and men are most likely to experience compatibility problems, as well as gender differences in the weight different areas of compatibility carry, according to Doctor Lawson.

Prior to viewing their compatibility scores, couples were asked to provide a numerical rating of the degree of overall compatibility in their relationship, as well as the degree of compatibility in each of the seven areas assessed by the separate CLQ scales. They were also asked to rate the degree of disagreement experienced in each of the seven areas.

Couples perceived themselves to be least compatible in the area of communication and conflict resolution, and rated this as the area where they experienced the most disagreement. Compatibility scores on the communication and conflict resolution scale were the best predictors of relationship satisfaction for men, and the second best predictor for women.

“Many books and research articles point out that women and men communicate differently. These results suggest that their different communication and conflict resolution styles contribute a great deal of insecurity to couples’ perceptions of compatibility. When couples present for marriage counseling, the area that most couples will ask for help in first is their ability to communicate and resolve conflicts,” explained Doctor Lawson. “The finding that similarity in communication and conflict resolution styles contributes so strongly to relationship satisfaction is important for compatibility testing, but it’s also important for the field of marital therapy.”

Couples rated coping styles as the area they experienced the second lowest level of compatibility, and reported coping styles to be the area where they experienced the second highest degree of disagreement. Compatibility scores in this area were moderate predictors of relationship satisfaction for both genders, according to Doctor Lawson.

“The literature does suggest that women and men both overlap, and differ in important ways, in how they cope with and manage stress. I am not aware of any other compatibility test that assesses this area. Both the degree of disagreement they report, and the moderate degree that this scale contributes to overall relationship satisfaction indicates it deserves inclusion in compatibility tests,” asserted Doctor Lawson.

Couples rated family values as the area where they experienced the least disagreement and as the area where they believed themselves to be most compatible.

“I suspect that family values are reflective of similarities in backgrounds and demographics that are in themselves good predictors of compatibility,” stated Doctor Lawson. “Values are also abstract in nature and less likely to be a point of contention than more concrete behaviors,” he added.

Couples rated themselves as third and fourth lowest in compatibility on the romantic and sexual style and financial style scales, respectively. They also rated these areas as third and fourth highest in the extent of disagreement they contribute to their relationships.

Men’s compatibility with their spouses on the sexual and romantic style scale were better predictors of relationship satisfaction than were women’s scores on this scale. The reverse was true with the financial style scale, which was a better predictor of women’s happiness with their relationship, compared to men.

“The gender differences on the sexual and romantic style and the financial style scales may simply reflect gender differences in needs for power and influence in each of these two areas, at least for the couples who participated in the study,” speculated Doctor Lawson. “The fact that they report a moderate degree of disagreement and incompatibility in these areas is well born out clinically, as these are common problem areas for couples.”

Doctor Lawson emphasized that the differences in self ratings of compatibility, extent of disagreement couples report in different areas, and the gender differences in each compatibility scale’s contribution to relationship satisfaction are findings that may be unique to his study, and suggest areas in which further research is warranted. “Taken in context, the pattern of results adds to the overall validity of the compatibility test we were assessing,” he stated. offers free compatibility testing to couples and free membership in an online introductions service. Study results, compatibility testing, and an online introductions service are available at:

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J. Donald Lawson, Ph.D.
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