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The role of psychological violence and perceived support for the relationship in young adults' commitment to intimate relationships


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Sušac, Nika. (2018). The role of psychological violence and perceived support for the relationship in young adults' commitment to intimate relationships. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Psychology.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij psihologije) [mentor Ajduković, Marina].

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Introduction Intimate relationships play one of the key roles in an individual’s life. They have proved to be important not only for general wellbeing and satisfaction in one’s life, but their quality is also predictive for a person’s mental and physical health. Therefore it is important to study the potential predictors of relationship quality and stability. One of the determinants that have been extensively studied in this field is relationship commitment. It is a construct that refers to the individual’s dedication to the relationship and his or her willingness to continue the current relationship. There are several different theoretical frameworks, with the most prominent being the Tripartite model and the Investment model, which differ in their conceptualization of commitment. While the Tripartite model studies different types of commitment, the Investment model includes some of their determinants as predictors of a general relationship commitment. Specifically, this model posits that relationship commitment is based on relationship satisfaction, investments in the relationship and quality of potential alternatives. Consequentially, higher commitment predicts future relationship stability. Within such framework different predictors have been examined to investigate their potential contribution in the explanation of these constructs, including various individual level variables, relationship characteristics and environmental or social context factors. On the relationship level communication and conflicts have been in the focus of many studies that proved their importance for couple functioning. The presence of violent communication patterns and relationship violence in general have shown to be important for relationship outcomes, specifically partner satisfaction, commitment and relationship stability. Although there are different views regarding the definition and measurement of relationship violence, as well as its prevalence and gender differences, it seems that they stem from different conceptualizations which focus on different types of partner violence. This study will focus on situational partner violence which is the most widespread and is often mutual. Some studies suggest that the presence of psychological violence might be even more detrimental to partner relationships than other forms of violence, so this topic will be further investigated. Perceived support for the relationship is one of the contextual variables that have shown to be important for the prediction of relationship commitment in previous studies. When significant people in one’s life accept the partner they have chosen, that acceptance can lead to higher satisfaction in the relationship, increased commitment and ultimately greater relationship stability. On the other hand, if such support is lacking, partners can cease to perceive their relationship as a positive experience. Earlier results indicate that different sources of support for the relationship might not be equally important and that their importance and contribution to relationship perception might change with partner’s age. That might be especially important in emerging adulthood, which is the life period that will be in the focus of this study. The aim of the study was to examine the roles of partner psychological violence and perceived support for the relationship in predicting relationship commitment. Additionally, the goal was to investigate specific roles of various sources of support for the relationship. Methodology The study was conducted with a sample of 335 couples, where at least one of the partners was between 18 and 30 years old. Their relationships lasted from 3 moths to 11 years, with the average duration being 3 years. Students of psychology and social work were the field researchers and they recruited their friends and acquaintances to participate in the study. Each partner completed their questionnaire separately and their answers were kept anonymous and confidential. Investment Model Scale was translated into Croatian and used to measure relationship satisfaction, investments, quality of alternatives and commitment. New instruments were constructed for examining the assessment of relationship stability, perceived social support for the relationship and partner violence, based on existing questionnaires in these research fields. These instruments were chosen and validated based on the pilot study that was conducted prior to the main research. The hypotheses were tested using path analysis, with all predicted relations between variables embedded within the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model. Results Results confirmed the predictions of the Investment model, with satisfaction, investments and quality of alternatives predicting relationship commitment for both partners. Commitment further predicted perceived relationship stability, while satisfaction and quality of alternatives also had a significant contribution. Longer relationship duration predicted higher commitment. Experiencing psychological partner violence predicted lower relationship satisfaction and commitment in men, while there was a small but significant effect in predicting higher commitment for women, mediated by their higher investments. These violent behaviours happened rarely but were present in most of the relationships in the sample and they also predicted lower perceived relationship stability for both partners. Perceived support for the relationship predicted both greater commitment and perceived stability, but the nature of these effects differed for men and women and depending on the source of support. Support obtained from one’s own friends proved to be particularly important in predicting relationship satisfaction, commitment and stability, and significant mediation effects were present for both partners. Their own family as a source of support proved to have a larger role in predicting men’s relationship outcomes, although it predicted higher investments for both genders. Partner’s social network members were significant as sources of support only in predicting women’s relationship perceptions. Conclusion Mutual dependence of partner variables and some significant partner effects confirmed the need to conduct partner studies using dyadic data sets and analyses. Based on the results, future studies should include psychological partner violence in models predicting relationship dissolution. This shows that the existing models should be expanded to better understand relationship commitment and stability. Future research should also focus on studying relationships in the context of their social environment, which had an important predictive role in this study. Methodological contributions included the development of new instruments and validation of the existing questionnaires in Croatian context, but also the analyses on the dyadic level, which has not been a common practice in Croatia so far. Results obtained in this study can be used for enhancing theoretical knowledge and be applied in couple counselling and therapy.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: intimate relationships, Investment model, commitment, stability, psychological partner violence, perceived support for the relationship, Actor-Partner Interdependence Model
Subjects: Psychology > Socijalna psihologija
Departments: Department of Psychology
Supervisor: Ajduković, Marina
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij psihologije
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2018 07:29
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2018 07:29

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