Causal attributions and the dissolution of casual-dating relationsips Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/4f16c569t

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  • The purpose of this study was to understand the role of causal attributions in casual-dating dissolution. Of 88 participants in a longitudinal investigation of casual-dating relationships, 48 completed termination questionnaires. Data were examined for common themes of break-up using Kelley's theory of interdependence. Reflecting concern for one's own outcomes in a relationship, persons in Independence break-ups rejected committed dating because it was perceived to be costly and persons in Disposition break-ups focused on the future costs of dating a person with negative dispositions. Relationship Problem break-ups reflected a concern for both one’s own (P's) and one’s partner's (0's) outcomes and emphasized a lack of success at finding mutually satisfying patterns of interaction. A more refined analysis employed a four point coding scheme: Individual/Personal (IP), Dyadic/Interactional (DI), Social Network (SN), and Circumstantial/Situational (CS). Consistent with Kelley's theory of interdependence, respondents most frequently used IF and DI attributions. A detailed-coding scheme was developed to identify within-category properties of the attributions. In this analysis, individuals' responses to three separate questions were considered together to clarify which characteristics were perceived to have contributed to the break-up. Multivariate analyses of variance revealed no relationship length or gender differences in the broad classes of causal attributions (IF, DI, SN, CS) used when explaining dissolution. Persons who perceived that they and their partners wanted to date again in the future, however, were more likely to report circumstantial reasons for their break-up. Personal Characteristics (e.g., the distinctive qualities, traits, or dispositions of an individual) and Behavioral Response Interdependence (e.g., P's behavior has an effect on 0) were the most frequently cited subcategories of reasons for dissolution. Chi-square tests revealed that persons in longer relationships and persons who experience Independence break-ups used DI behavioral attributions (e.g., activities participated in together) more than expected. Persons in shorter relationships and persons who experienced Relationship Problem break-ups used DI Interpersonal attributions (e.g., a comparison of P's and O's role expectations) more than expected. This investigation contributed to the understanding of the role of causal attributions in casual-dating dissolution. It is recommended that Future studies examine relationship instability in terms of type of break-up.
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