Title of Abstract

The Impact of Audience on Romantic Relationship Communication

Faculty Mentor

One WU mentor: Merry Sleigh, Ph.D.; sleighm@winthrop.edu

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

Faculty Mentor

Merry Sleigh, Ph.D.

Abstract

We investigated how the audience for the communication impacted perceptions of romantic relationships. Participants (n = 147) had a mean age of 26.95 (SD = 14.41). The majority were Caucasian (56%) and women (71%). Participants were randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions. The versions varied by the gender of the target character (Peter or Stella) in a romantic relationship and by the audience to whom the target character communicates their love for their partner (to the partner or to others). Participants evaluated the quality of the presented relationship. Participants then responded to the Relationship Assessment Scale and the Dating Anxiety and Relationship Anxiety Scales. We found that adults were impressed with relationships where the man directly declared his love for the woman. These partners were seen as emotionally healthy and as good parents. When the woman talked about her love to anyone, the partners were perceived as having better communication and sex, perhaps suggesting the importance of the woman’s mood in determining those outcomes. Although communication seemed to be linked to good outcomes, our adults also indicated that the partner who declared their love was the one with the least power and the one most likely to get hurt. In addition, when the woman declared her love to the man, she was also seen as controlling. We did not find many race or gender differences, suggesting some commonality in how young adults view relationships. These findings provide new evidence that the audience of the communication matters.

Course Assignment

PSYC 302 - Sleigh

Other Presentations/Performances

Southeastern Psychological Association Conference, Virtual, March 2021

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The Impact of Audience on Romantic Relationship Communication

We investigated how the audience for the communication impacted perceptions of romantic relationships. Participants (n = 147) had a mean age of 26.95 (SD = 14.41). The majority were Caucasian (56%) and women (71%). Participants were randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions. The versions varied by the gender of the target character (Peter or Stella) in a romantic relationship and by the audience to whom the target character communicates their love for their partner (to the partner or to others). Participants evaluated the quality of the presented relationship. Participants then responded to the Relationship Assessment Scale and the Dating Anxiety and Relationship Anxiety Scales. We found that adults were impressed with relationships where the man directly declared his love for the woman. These partners were seen as emotionally healthy and as good parents. When the woman talked about her love to anyone, the partners were perceived as having better communication and sex, perhaps suggesting the importance of the woman’s mood in determining those outcomes. Although communication seemed to be linked to good outcomes, our adults also indicated that the partner who declared their love was the one with the least power and the one most likely to get hurt. In addition, when the woman declared her love to the man, she was also seen as controlling. We did not find many race or gender differences, suggesting some commonality in how young adults view relationships. These findings provide new evidence that the audience of the communication matters.