Personal Relationships

Unpublished Manuscripts (downloadable PDFs). Please do not cite without permission.
Individuals (N = 99) in ongoing romantic relationships completed a questionnaire in which they first envisioned a hypothetical future in which their relationships had dissolved and then made a series of judgments concerning (a) how they would expect to feel toward their ex-partners in the aftermath of the break up and (b) how interested they expected to be in trying to re-establish a romantic relationship with these partners. The questionnaire also contained items assessing a range of personality and relationship variables as well as items that asked them to predict how the dissolution process would unfold should they and their current partners break up. Regression analyses revealed that trust predicted participants’ expectations concerning their post-dissolution feelings for their partners whereas commitment and working models of self predicted participants’ expectations concerning their willingness to reconcile with their former partners. In addition, controlling for the personality- and relationship-level predictors, participants’ forecasts concerning the extent to which their post-dissolution adjustment would be painful and difficult predicted their expectations concerning their post-dissolution feelings for their former partners and participants’ expectations about their own ability to prevent the relationship’s demise predicted their expectations concerning their interest in reconciling with their exes.
We explored ambivalence in attitudes toward romantic revenge through content analysis of 85 semi-structured interviews about incidents in which individuals either got even with a romantic partner or wanted to do so but did not. We found considerable evidence of ambivalence, regardless of the type of revenge episode participants were instructed to recall (good, bad, no revenge) as reflected in tendencies for participants to discuss both positive and negative thoughts and positive and negative feelings about getting even and to report a negative temporal shift in their evaluations of their vengeful actions. Possible implications for predicting romantic revenge are discussed
Past research has documented systematic discrepancies in the stories victims and transgressors tell about negative interpersonal events (e.g., Baumeister, Stillwell & Wotman, 1990). This study tested the generality of interpretations that attribute such divergent viewpoints to self-presentation based motives. In Wave 1, participants (N = 96) wrote 2 autobiographical narratives about forgiven transgressions, one from the role of transgressor and one from the role of victim. Participants in Wave 2 (N = 68) wrote accounts of unforgiven transgressions. We predicted that a victim’s decision to forgive (or not) would have important implications for the kind of motives that guide both victims’ and transgressor’s efforts at account-making because the outcome of the decision process determines the degree to which an individual--depending on his or her role in the episode--is motivated to justify (i.e., defend) the victim’s eventual choice. Results generally support the notion that the content of accounts varies by type of transgression. The motivational underpinnings of our results, however, are less clear.
Participants (N = 52) completed an evaluation task in which they rated the extent to which 14 relationship attributes were characteristic of the average dating relationship and their own dating relationships. Instructions for the evaluation task alleged that each of the 14 attributes was predictive of the healthy development of romantic relationships. Evidence of perceived superiority was observed in participants’ ratings for 13 of the 14 attributes. Consistent with previous research, in each case participants rated the putative marker of success more characteristic of their own than of the average dating relationship. Additional analyses showed that participants’ ratings of the extent to which the markers of success were typical of their own dating relationships reliably differentiated between participants who were moderate versus high in relationship satisfaction, whereas ratings for the average dating relationship did not.
With this paper, we hope to draw attention to an entire class of potentially important social relationships that has largely escaped relationship researchers’ notice to date, namely imaginary relationships between admirers and their celebrity idols. We present arguments to suggest that relationship scholars’ disregard of these social relations may be an important oversight and discuss several benefits that might follow from systematic efforts at theoretical and empirical investigation of people’s relationships with celebrities and other members of their artificial social worlds (i.e., God and other supernatural beings). We also present selected findings from a series of two exploratory studies of celebrity-admirer relationships as a means of (a) supporting the various claims we advance in this paper concerning the nature of these relationships and (b) persuading the reader of the value in studying imaginary relationships of this sort. We conclude with a brief sketch of some of the directions future research in this area might take.