The transition to parenthood (TTP) is a major juncture in adult life. It provides a great sense of meaning, with most couples reporting feelings of joy and pleasure. But with all its rewards, the TTP also poses great challenges. Our previous work, supported by the JTF-funded Hope and Optimism Initiative (H&OI) with additional support from the BSF, began documenting the role of dyadic hope as a source of resilience in the TTP. As expected, we found that new parents' hope contributes to their own and their partner's relationship satisfaction and well-being; we also began exploring the possibility that it translates into behavioral acts of giving and that it mitigates (inevitable) frustrated expectations. The proposed project, comprising two studies, builds on this work.
Study 1 will test the longer-term effects of dyadic hope on TTP couples. It involves continued follow-up of a sample (N=102 couples) recruited in the previous H&OI project at 12-, 18-, and 24-mo postpartum (a critical period for relationship distress following TTP). Couples will complete self- and partner-report questionnaires, take part in a videotaped lab visit, and complete a 21-day diary. We will assess personal and relational outcomes, as well as early indicators of the child's emerging character traits.
Study 2 will test whether dyadic hope can be experimentally imbued and whether such imbued hope has down-stream consequences. It involves the development of a dyadic imagery-based hope intervention, and a randomized controlled trial of this intervention with a new sample (N=66 couples). Alongside the intervention, these couples will undergo the same extensive assessment as those in the previous H&OI project. The intervention will utilize imagery methods with which my lab is very familiar, and which have been found to be effective in promoting hope. They will also apply insights from research on self-regulation. Importantly, such imagery interventions have yet to be tested in a dyadic context.