Date of Award

8-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Warren Jones

Committee Members

Kristina C. Gordon, John W. Jounsbury

Abstract

Psychological research suggests that, other things being equal, the desire for or exercise of control over consequences is advantageous to the individual. However, in the context of relationships where the needs and welfare of another person are salient, the preference and enactment of control may be more problematic. Furthermore, although considerable research attention has been devoted to issues of control in general, the more contextualized, relationship-specific conceptualization of control has remained relatively unexplored in the literature, and the relevant research that does exist is limited by measurement problems. The primary purpose of this project was to advance the study of control in relationships through the development and validation of a self-report instrument specifically designed to measure it. An initial pool of 82 items was written and subsequently refined using both Likert analysis and factor analysis in a study involving college student dating relationship participants (n = 240). The subsequent version of the Control in Relationships (CIR) measure consisted of 26 items, which showed good internal consistency and reliability over time. Furthermore, the factor structure of the 26 items was interpretable and suggested a coherent underlying structure of the CIR construct. Subsequently, the validity of the measure was assessed, indicating that CIR was significantly related to pertinent measures of control, and three separate measures of relationship satisfaction, as well as measures of partner trust and risk of intimacy. The validation portion of this study suggested the negative characteristics of the CIR construct that might be detrimental not only to the individual, but also to the relationship. Results supported the utility of CIR as a measure of control in relationships and also suggested several directions for future research.

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