Family influences on commitment: Examining the family of origin correlates of relationship commitment attitudes



Two studies were conducted to investigate the lessons about relationship commitment that people gain from their families of origin. In the first study, participants identified a story from their families of origin that characterized a number of themes about commitment. In the second study, these themes were further refined to reveal eight factors underlying these themes: dedication to partner, constraints on relationships, relationships are impermanent, disillusionment, family and gender influences, approaching relationships with caution, relationships take work, and divorce has negative consequences. Ratings of the themes varied by the occurrence of parental divorce, perceived parental marital happiness, and gender. Commitment lessons remembered from families of origin also were associated with the participants’ reported level of commitment in their current relationships. Implications for current theory on commitment are discussed.