Department and Program: Psychology, Ph.D.
Funding & Awards:
Relationship quality in friendships and romantic relationships.
People often wonder whether their romantic relationships are going well and why some relationships are more satisfying than others. What individual characteristics or situational factors contribute to satisfying relationships? The primary goal of my master’s research was to answer this question. Consistent with theories in relationship research, I found that people are more satisfied with their dating relationship and friendships when they have a secure attachment style (i.e., are not worried about being abandoned, and are comfortable with getting close to and depending on others) and when they perceive their relationship is fair (i.e., they both put in and receive equal amounts of costs and benefits). Another study I conducted with my advisor (Dr. Marian Morry) showed that people who define themselves in terms of close relationships (e.g., a husband/wife, a parent/child, a boyfriend/girlfriend) engage in behaviors which enhance their relationships (e.g., disclosing, trusting their friend). By engaging in these behaviors, they perceive that their friends meet their needs and experience greater relationship quality.
My dissertation research focuses on how ordinary people define relationship quality concepts: relationship satisfaction, love, commitment, intimacy, passion, and trust. For instance, when people say they are satisfied with their dating relationship, how is it different from saying that they love their dating partner? By examining various relationship quality concepts simultaneously, I will be able to identify the core aspects of relationship quality which are present across different concepts as well as distinct features for each concept. That is, in this research, I will attempt to identify a structure of these concepts and clarify how relationship quality concepts should be conceptualized in the relationship research.