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Research Article

The Role of Guilt in the Perception of Divorce Settlements Depends on the Divorce Procedure

Authors:

Anne Wietzker ,

Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Ghent University, BE
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Tom Loeys,

Department of Data Analysis, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Ghent University, BE
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Ann Buysse

Department of Experimental Clinical- and Health Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Ghent University, BE
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Abstract

Little is known about the factors that influence satisfactory divorce settlements. We assumed that feelings of guilt toward the former partner might – directly or indirectly – be one of these factors. Feelings of guilt, which often occur in divorce, elicit cooperative negotiation behaviour. We hypothesised that guilt, mediated by cooperative negotiation behaviour, would be related to participants’ subjective appraisals of their divorce settlements. Furthermore, we predicted that this relation would be moderated by the divorce procedure (i.e., litigated divorce or consensual divorce) followed by the participants. We used survey data of 166 participants who were in the process of divorcing. Guilt was assessed at outset, as was negotiation behaviour at one year, and appraisals of divorce settlements at two years. Participants in the litigated divorce group appraised their settlements less positively than participants in the consensual group. In this group guilt was directly and indirectly (through yielding negotiation behaviour) negatively related to appraisals of personal aspects of settlements. In contrast, guilt was indirectly (through yielding negotiation behaviour) positively related to appraisals of factual aspects of settlements in the consensual divorce group.
How to Cite: Wietzker, A., Loeys, T. & Buysse, A., (2013). The Role of Guilt in the Perception of Divorce Settlements Depends on the Divorce Procedure. Psychologica Belgica. 53(4), pp.37–56. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/pb-53-4-37
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Published on 27 Dec 2013.
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