The Marital Rating Scale: The First eHarmony?

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The Marital Rating Scale: The First eHarmony?
How would your relationship rank on the marital rating scale? Try this vintage tool and find out!

This guest article from Psych Central was written by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

It all started with the Marital Rating Scale.  

You've heard of eHarmony and Match.com, of course. These and other high tech matchmaking services have their roots in a low tech project started 80 years ago.

Physician and psychologist George W. Crane, MD, PhD (1901-95) created a questionnaire called the Marital Rating Scale in the 1930s to help couples assess their marriages. (Crane maintained a private practice and wrote the newspaper column “The Worry Clinic.”)

According to an article in APA’s Monitor on Psychology, to create his scale, Crane asked 600 husbands about their wives’ positive and negative attributes. (Husbands were also questioned, so there’s a scale for them, too.) Then he listed the 50 qualities that came up most often. While Crane tried to make the process scientific, he “did admit to using a personal bias in weighting the items that he thought were most important in marriage.”

How did the scale work?

According to the article:

“For instance, if your wife ‘uses slang or profanity,’ she would get a score of five demerits. On the other hand, if she ‘reacts with pleasure and delight to marital congress,’ she would receive 10 merits. The test taker would add up the total number of merits and demerits to receive a raw score, which would categorize the wife on a scale from ‘very poor’ to ‘very superior.’”

Other demerits included: “slow in coming to bed — delays ‘til husband is almost asleep,” “doesn’t like children,” “wears red nail polish” and “goes to bed with curlers in her hair and much face cream.”

The merits included: “can carry on an interesting conversation,” “can play a musical instrument as piano, violin, etc.,” “personally puts children to bed” and “lets husband sleep late on Sundays and holidays.”

In the husband’s chart, the demerits included: “stares at or flirts with other women while out with wife,” “compares wife unfavorably with his mother or other wives,” “leaves dresser drawers open” and “snores.”

Merits included: “gives wife ample allowance or turns pay check over to her,” “helps wife with dishes, caring for children, scrubbing,” “reads newspaper, books or magazines aloud to wife” and “consults wife’s opinion re business and social affairs.”

You can find the whole questionnaires here--versions for both men and women.  Try them and see how your relationship would rate.

While some of this might seem startling or silly to us today, his ideas, according to the article, were well received around the country. (Of course, that was a much different time.)

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

John M. Grohol

Psychologist

Dr. John Grohol is a mental health expert and founder of Psych Central. He has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues, and the intersection of technology and psychology since 1992.

Location: Newburyport, MA
Credentials: PsyD
Website: PsychCentral
Other Articles/News by John M. Grohol:

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