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The participants consisted of 101undergraduate students from Loyola University, from varied majors, but mostly psychology students. All participants were in the age range of a typical undergraduate college student, which is about 18 to 22. The participants received no monetary reward for their participation, but psychology students did receive class credit if their psychology professor offered it. The participants were recruited through the psychology department human participant pool board and word of mouth.
The study consisted of a six-page survey in which the participant could use a pen or pencil to mark his/her answers. The survey combined several different surveys: The Future Time Orientation in Romantic Relationships Scale (Oner, 2000), measures of relationship commitment (Schmitt, 2002), and an attachment style measure (Simpson 1990). The survey also included a section at the beginning asking for age, race, gender, who the person was raised by, what relationship had the biggest impact on them and if it was a positive or negative impact. Also there were questions asking the persons relationship status from past relationships and their present relationship. The measure of relationship commitment (Schmitt, 2002) asked questions about whether or not the person has thought about ending the relationship, who they talk to about their relationship, and how supportive they feel that their partner is in the relationship. The attachment scale (Simpson 1990) gave statements that fit into an attachment category of either secure, avoidant, or anxious/ambivalent. The participant is told in the instructions to circle a number 1-5 (strongly disagree-strongly agree, respectively) indicating how strongly they felt about each statement and whichever category they scored the highest in was considered their attachment style. Last was the Future Time Orientation in Romantic Relationships Scale (Oner, 2000) where the participant was given the same scale in which to rate how strongly they felt about statements dealing with tendencies they had in relationships that led to future decisions about that relationship.
The participants met the person giving the study in a classroom at a specified time. Before filling out the survey the participant had to sign an informed consent form stating that the study was about romantic relationships and that they would have to respond to questions pertaining to childhood experiences, their relationship history, their current relationship and their opinion of relationships in general. Then the survey was distributed and the participant was given 30 minutes to complete it. After completing the survey the participants were informed of the hypothesis of the researchers and what they hoped to find with the results of the survey.
First of all we test our hypothesis, which was if a personís relationship model is based on whom they were raised by and it was a positive experience, then it could produce a secure attachment style, higher optimism about marriage, and the person would be more satisfied in their relationships. The first test of the hypothesis was a one-way ANOVA between attachment styles and positivity of the participantsí romantic relationship model in only the people that were raised by their model. The results of the ANOVA were marginally significant, F(2, 60) = 2.966, p < .06, with the most significance found between secure, with a mean of 3.79 (SD=1.24) and avoidant, with a mean of 2.88 (SD=1.58), the secure attachment style was higher than avoidant and anxious/ambivalent with a p < .055. The anxious/ambivalent attachment style had a mean of 3.20 (SD=0.84), but there were only five participants that fell into that category. When we lifted the restriction of only people that were raised by their model and included everyone the results were significant, F(2, 98) = 3.689, p < .05. However, even when including all the participants, post-hoc tests still were not powerful enough to tell where the significant difference could be found. Then we ran Pearsonís correlations between the positivity of the participantsí romantic relationship model, their satisfaction in their current or most recent romantic relationship and their outlook on future relationships but none of the results came out significant. The correlation the positivity of the model and relationship satisfaction came out to r=-.003. The correlation between positivity of the model and outlook on future relationship was r=. 062. The correlation between relationship satisfaction and outlook on future relationships was r=. 215. We failed to support our hypothesis.
Next, we chose to compare the two most popular types of relationship models, the parents and the fictional relationship. Using a t-test we compared positivity of the participantsí romantic relationship model, their satisfaction in their current or most recent romantic relationship and their outlook on future relationships for each model. We found a significant difference between the two models in their relationship satisfaction, t(74) = 2.621, p < .05, finding that people with fictional relationship models were less satisfied in their current or most recent romantic relationship, with a mean satisfaction of 3.2056 (SD=0.823), than those whoís parents were their models, who had a mean satisfaction of 3.7639 (SD=0.816).
Subsequently, we decided to compare those participants with a consistent living situation, meaning the people that raised them from birth to 18 years old remained constant, to those with an inconsistent living situation. Using a t-test we compared the consistency of living situation with positivity of the participantsí romantic relationship model, their satisfaction in their current or most recent romantic relationship and their outlook on future relationships. The results of the t-test showed that people who have not had a consistent living situation (mean positivity=2.70) have a significantly less positive romantic relationship model than those who have had a consistent living situation (mean positivity=3.69), t (98) = -3.157, p < .01.
Despite being unable to find any significance in our data dealing with our hypothesis, the results we did find gives some interesting information about romantic relationships. We found a very exciting comparison between people with fictional relationship models and their satisfaction with their relationship. Finding that those with a fictional relationship model are less satisfied may show that these people have too high of a standard for their relationship and the real life relationship is not able to live up to these fictional standards. It would be interesting to do more research on this subject. The other significant result, dealing with the consistency of their living situation gave evidence that when a family living situation changes due to changes in the parental relationship the participants view of their relationship model becomes less positive. Further research would be needed to understand why the living situation changed and why that caused the participants view of their relationship model to change also before we could fully understand this result. So even though we could not find any significant results, our research raises many other questions and points to a need for more research on the topic. Although none of the work of the other studies I researched were looking for they same things as we were in our hypotheses, Jeffry Simpson and Bengi Oner would probably be the most interested in the results because we used the some of the measures they did in their research, but used them to find the things in our hypothesis.
In our everyday world I think people would find our results helpful for their lives. Those people that know they base their relationship on a fictional relationship model may understand that if they are unsatisfied in their relationships it might be because they have unrealistic expectations for their relationship. Therefore they could consider rethinking their relationship model and try to separate out whether or not the problems in their relationship have to do with how the relationship really is or if they just have a high, unrealistic standard for what it should be to them. Also if someone is debating whether or not he or she should get into a relationship with someone, they could keep in mind that the other person could be less likely to be satisfied with the relationship if they have a fictional relationship model. The other significant result having to do with the consistency of living situation could be helpful for parents who are separating. The results can help the parents understand why their children may be angry with them or why the children may decide later to not base their relationship model on their parentsí relationship.
Oner, B. (2000). Relationship satisfaction and dating experience: Factors affecting future time orientation in relationships with the opposite sex. Journal of Psychology, 134, 527-536.
Rubin, Z. (1970). Measurement of romantic love. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 16, 265-273.
Schmitt, D. P. (2002). Personality attachment and sexuality related to dating relationship outcomes: Contrasting three perspectives on personal attribute interaction. British Journal of Social Psychology, 41, 589-610.
Simpson, J. A. (1990). Influence of attachment styles on romantic relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 971-980.
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