Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Jay D. Schvaneveldt


Jay D. Schvaneveldt


Glen H. Maw


Glen O. Jenson


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the attitudes and practices regarding engagement in modern America, focusing on the attitudes and evaluations of college students concerning the purpose and function of engagement. A questionairre was designed to measure the attitudes and evaluations of college students regarding engagement through the use of open-ended and Likert-type questions focusing on different aspects of the engagement process and a number of quest ions providing extensive demographic information. Respondents designated their present heterosexual relationship, allowing comparisons to be made based upon the respondents' relationship experience and exposure to the engagement process. Data were collected from 464 respondents.

The results of the study show that engagement is considered by young college students to be a stage of commitment and a preparation period for marriage. Nearly all respondents were involved in or planned to be involved in the engagement process and believed that engagement is a necessary and viable phase towards marriage. The custom of exchanging an engagement ring, as well as other symbolic behaviors, was found not only to still have importance in the engagement process but al so to possibly provide initiation into a stage of relationship separately distinct from marriage. Several factors emerged from a factor analysis of Likert-type items identifying distinct characteristics of the engagement process. These factors provide items of measurement that should be employed in future studies concerning engagement.