Date of Award

8-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Kristina C. Gordon

Committee Members

Dawn M. Szymanski, Joseph R. Miles, Courtney N. Wright

Abstract

The polyamory literature has evolved over the years, but very little of the literature is made up of quantitative studies. An even smaller proportion of those are comparative studies, in which researchers investigate the differences and similarities between polyamorous and non-polyamorous relationships. Whereas there is no research on relational interdependent self-construal (RISC) in the polyamorous community, the values expressed by the community are congruent with high RISC traits in the literature. Markus & Kitayama (1991) state that individuals high in interdependent self-construal have a high need for and appreciation of relationships (Cross & Morris, 2003). The desire for multiple close relationships is a main theme in the qualitative polyamory literature (e.g. Aguilar, 2013; Haritaworn, Lin, & Klesse, 2006). Similarly, the theme of relationship maintenance is also prevalent in the polyamory literature (e.g. Robbins, 2005; Chatara-Middleton, 2012), and research suggests that individuals with high relational interdependent self-construal engage are more likely to engage in relationship-promoting maintenance strategies than individuals with low RISC (e.g. Cross et al., 2000, 2002, 2009; Impett, Le, Asyabi-Eshghi, Day, & Kogan, 2013).

This study explored associations between relationship orientation and RISC, and how these two variables are associated with relational maintenance in a sample of individuals who self-identify as polyamorous or non-polyamorous. Our findings suggest that these two samples are not significantly different as regards relational self-construal. Whereas overall relational maintenance strategies are similar between the two groups, there are some differences between these two groups as regards specific types of relational maintenance.

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