Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Research has revealed the value of studying communication patterns, both verbal and nonverbal, in couple conflict discussions (Gottman & Levenson, 2000; Noller, Feeney, Bonnell, & Callan, 1994). In fact, the study of behavioral reactions to relationship conflict has been central to predicting important relationship outcomes, such as relationship satisfaction and breakup (e.g. see Gottman, 1998 for a review). The goal of the current dissertation was to explore how explicit (i.e., conscious, deliberate) and implicit (i.e., unconscious, automatic) self-esteem correspond to people's self-reported approach and avoidance verbal and nonverbal behaviors following a relationship threat manipulation (Study 1) and people's observer-rated approach and avoidance verbal and nonverbal behaviors in an actual conflict discussion (Study 2). Results revealed the importance of both explicit and implicit self-esteem for predicting responses to relationship threat, revealing a pattern of results consistent with the risk regulation model (Murray et al., 2006; 2008). These studies also revealed the value of understanding how perceptions of a partner's commitment moderate the relation between implicit self-esteem and risk regulation dynamics. The results of the current research provide some of the first evidence that implicit self-esteem influences romantic relationship regulation dynamics during relationship conflict.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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