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Are You A Good Wife?

Posted Oct 02 2008 6:16pm

The online version of the American Psychological Association's Monitor presents an interesting look back at a rating scale developed in the 1930s by George W. Crane of Northwestern University. The Marital Rating Scale-Wife's Chart has a straightforward enough purpose: rating wives in terms of their positive and negative characteristics. The test could be completed by either the husband or wife and measured wives in terms of merits or demerits.

Items for which wives could receive demerits included: slow in coming to bed, doesn't like children, wears red nail polish, uses profanity, going to bed with curlers in hair or too much face cream.  Merits for wives included: has meals on time, can play a musical instrument, dresses for breakfast, and neat housekeeper. Adding up the merits and demerits on the test yielded a score that ranged from "very poor" to "very superior".

Crane, who also had his own counseling practice as well as a nationally syndicated newspaper column, developed the test by interviewing 600 husbands to determine the most important positive and negative traits in wives.  No wives were interviewed and it doesn't seem to have occurred to Crane to develop an equivalent test for husbands (the man had his priorities). 

In addition to his syndicated articles on marriage (which were very well received at the time), George Crane also launched the Scientific Marriage Foundation in 1957. As one of the first computer dating services, he was definitely at the forefront for his time although changing attitudes seem to have left him behind otherwise.

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