Terri D. Conley, Department of Psychology and Institute for Women and Gender Studies, University of Missouri–St. Louis; Joshua L. Rabinowitz, Department of Psychology, California State University, Northridge.
Scripts, close relationships, and symbolic meanings of contraceptives
Article first published online: 2 NOV 2004
Volume 11, Issue 4, pages 539–558, December 2004
How to Cite
Conley, T. D. and Rabinowitz, J. L. (2004), Scripts, close relationships, and symbolic meanings of contraceptives. Personal Relationships, 11: 539–558. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2004.00097.x
The first author was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship provided by the Social Science Research Council's Sexuality Research Fellowship Program, funded by the Ford Foundation. We thank Letitia Anne Peplau and Karen Cheng for their comments on a previous draft of this manuscript. We also thank Talar Tejirian and Vicki Topdjian for their assistance in developing materials and collecting data. Portions of this research were presented at the 2004 annual meeting of the American Psychological Society in Chicago, IL.
- Issue published online: 2 NOV 2004
- Article first published online: 2 NOV 2004
In four studies, we documented the symbolic meanings of the progression of contraceptive use in close relationships. In Study 1A, participants perceived a couple in which one partner suggests changing contraceptive method from condoms to the pill (a normative transition script) as having a more positive relationship than a couple in which one partner suggests changing from the pill to condoms (a counternormative transition script). In Study 1B, participants believed that couples who followed a counternormative transition script had higher likelihood of infidelity/STDs and a lower degree of closeness than couples who followed a normative transition script. In Study 2A, the association of counternormative transition with perceptions of greater infidelity and lower closeness was demonstrated among a group of college students imagining their own relationship partners suggesting the transition. In Study 2B, participants who imagined that their partner suggested a counternormative transition reported more negative emotions than did participants who imagined that their partner suggested a normative transition. These findings suggest that the symbolic meaning of condoms and birth control pills may contribute to the relative lack of safer sex behaviors in close relationships.