Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Kristina Coop Gordon

Committee Members

Todd M. Moore, Elizabeth B. Strand, Deborah P. Welsh


The present study examined the role of mindfulness in the relational outcomes of dating couples in order to: 1) investigate whether previously documented associations between mindfulness and relationship satisfaction extend to behavioral indicators of relationship stability cross-sectionally and longitudinally, 2) determine whether the role of mindfulness in relational outcomes differs for male and female partners, and 3) examine how male and female partners’ levels of mindfulness contribute to their own and their partners’ relational outcomes in the context of their dyadic relationship. Fourhundred and sixty-eight participants and 168 of their current dating partners (n = 655) completed baseline measures of mindfulness and each facet of mindfulness (e.g. Observing, Describing, Acting with Awareness, Nonjudging, Nonreactivity; Baer et al., 2006), relationship satisfaction, and relationship instability, and were invited to complete follow-up measures of relationship satisfaction and dissolution status (intact versus dissolved) at 30-, 60-, and 90-days post-baseline. Cross-sectional, longitudinal, and actorpartner structural equation models were used to test direct, indirect, and gendermoderated effects of overall mindfulness and each facet of mindfulness on baseline relationship instability and longitudinal relationship dissolution, mediated by relationship satisfaction. Results indicated that higher levels of mindfulness were associated with a greater degree of relationship satisfaction and, in turn, fewer motivated steps toward ending the relationship for both male and female partners, though the particular aspects of mindfulness underlying these effects might differ based on gender. Mindfulness was a less potent predictor of longitudinal relationship dissolution, though female partners’ Acting with Awareness was the most reliable predictor of dissolution and, in general, female partners’ levels of mindfulness and relationship satisfaction were more robust predictors of couple dissolution than those of male partners. Results of actor-partner models indicated that only female partners’ levels of overall mindfulness, Observing, Acting with Awareness, and Nonreactivity were negatively associated with couple dissolution status when controlling for their male partners’ levels of mindfulness and relationship satisfaction. Findings from the present study contribute novel insights into the role of mindfulness in young adult dating relationships and highlight mindfulness as a propitious target for intervention and education efforts aimed at improving relational health.

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