This study was part of an undergraduate honors thesis completed by the first author under the second author's supervision, and was partially supported by funds from The Craig and Barbara Barrett Honors College. The authors would like to thank Sanford Braver, George Knight, and Clark Presson for their very helpful comments on earlier versions of this work; Jon Maner, Justin Prost, and Jon Butner for their statistical help; Ty Boyer for his help running the study; and Leanne Lamke and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback.
How do holidays influence relationship processes and outcomes? Examining the instigating and catalytic effects of Valentine's Day
Version of Record online: 2 NOV 2004
Volume 11, Issue 4, pages 509–527, December 2004
How to Cite
Morse, K. A. and Neuberg, S. L. (2004), How do holidays influence relationship processes and outcomes? Examining the instigating and catalytic effects of Valentine's Day. Personal Relationships, 11: 509–527. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2004.00095.x
- Issue online: 2 NOV 2004
- Version of Record online: 2 NOV 2004
Might Valentine's Day, despite its marketing as a holiday to enhance romantic relationships, paradoxically facilitate their demise? Because Valentine's Day provides a useful opportunity for exploring the potential influences of recurring culture-wide events on relationships, we asked college students in romantic relationships about relationship stability, quality, beliefs, and processes, both 1 week prior to and 1 week after Valentine's Day. As predicted, those participating during the time period straddling Valentine's Day were more likely to break up than were those participating in comparison time periods. This increase in relationship dissolution appeared attributable to the catalyzing effect that Valentine's Day had on moderately strong and weak relationships already on a downward trajectory: These relationships were particularly likely to dissolve during the Valentine's Day period. We view this research as a useful illustration of how to conceptualize and empirically investigate the effects of holidays and other cultural events on relationship dynamics and outcomes.