Marriage and Cohabitation

By Arland Thornton; William G. Axinn et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
The Influence of Attitudes, Values,
and Beliefs*

Introduction

Attitudes, values, and beliefs are central factors in theoretical models of family formation behavior and key elements in understanding changing patterns of family formation. Our central goal in this chapter is to examine the influence of a broad range of attitudes on young people's experiences with premarital cohabitation and marriage. We examine attitudes toward dimensions of family formation, such as cohabitation, premarital sex, marriage, and childbearing, as well as attitudes toward nonfamily activities that may compete with family formation, such as education, careers, and consumer spending. We examine the impact of young people's attitudes on their cohabiting and marital behavior, controlling for the effects of the family factors documented in chapters 5 and 6.

A related goal is to examine the role of parental attitudes in shaping children's attitudes and behavior. Although both the previous chapters and the research literature in general examine a wide range of parental family characteristics, up until now we have concentrated mainly on structural characteristics of parental families. The importance of social-psychological aspects of the family of origin, such as preferences or aspirations, has long been acknowledged in the status-attainment literature (e.g., Sewell

*Georgina Binstock collaborated in the analysis and writing of this chapter.

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