From bad to worse: Relationship commitment and vulnerability to partner imperfections

Authors

  • XIMENA B. ARRIAGA,

    Corresponding author
    1. Purdue University
      Ximena B. Arriaga, Purdue University, Department of Psychological Sciences, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2004, e-mail: arriaga@purdue.edu.
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    • Ximena B. Arriaga, Elizabeth S. Slaughterbeck, Nicole M. Capezza, and Jillian L. Hmurovic, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University.

  • ELIZABETH S. SLAUGHTERBECK,

    1. Purdue University
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    • Ximena B. Arriaga, Elizabeth S. Slaughterbeck, Nicole M. Capezza, and Jillian L. Hmurovic, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University.

  • NICOLE M. CAPEZZA,

    1. Purdue University
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    • Ximena B. Arriaga, Elizabeth S. Slaughterbeck, Nicole M. Capezza, and Jillian L. Hmurovic, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University.

  • JILLIAN L. HMUROVIC

    1. Purdue University
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    • Ximena B. Arriaga, Elizabeth S. Slaughterbeck, Nicole M. Capezza, and Jillian L. Hmurovic, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University.


  • We thank Bruce Craig (Department of Statistics, Purdue University) and Dan Mroczek (Department of Child Development and Family Studies, Purdue University) for their helpful suggestions on issues concerning the design and reporting of the findings. We presented portions of this research at the biannual meeting of the International Association for Relationships Research held in July 2006, Crete, Greece.

Ximena B. Arriaga, Purdue University, Department of Psychological Sciences, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2004, e-mail: arriaga@purdue.edu.

Abstract

Having a satisfying romantic relationship is not always feasible, particularly as one discovers less-than-perfect partner characteristics. It is suggested that less committed couple members are more vulnerable to negative partner characteristics than are highly committed couple members. Forty-one dating couples individually indicated their commitment level, were randomly assigned to receive positive- or negative-false feedback about the partner’s personality, and indicated their postmanipulation satisfaction and uncertainty levels. Negative partner feedback affected the satisfaction of less committed but not highly committed individuals. Feeling uncertain about the relationship mediated less committed couple members’ increased vulnerability to negative partner information. The association between uncertainty and commitment was curvilinear and stronger under conditions of relationship threat. Self-esteem did not predict responses to threat.

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