Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Renee V. Galliher


Renee V. Galliher


Ginger Lockhart


Scott C. Bates


Understanding normative developmental patterns in romantic relationships within cultural-historical contexts is a vital research agenda, and contemporary relationships develop amid pervasive socio-technological advancements. The role of technology in relationship functioning is relevant as romantic relationships are among the most important types of relationships and technology may substitute proximity, a core imperative of the attachment system. This study described patterns of computer-mediated communication (CMC) in young adult romantic relationships. Specifically, we hypothesized that core relational and personality constructs were linked to participants’ interpretations and reactions to CMC.

Participants were 97 college students who provided global scores for rejection sensitivity, attachment representations, relationship satisfaction, and data about CMC with their romantic partner. Participants were prompted twice daily for two weeks to respond to questions assessing the nature and reaction to their most recent CMC with their romantic partner. Participants used texting more than any other CMC and communicated with romantic partners more than all others combined. Participants’ high relationship and communication satisfaction remained relatively constant. The 97 participants completed 1,616 mobile responses. Reported response latency was higher for men than women. Significant negative correlations emerged between interaction ratings, rejection sensitivity, and both insecure attachment dimensions. Regression analyses revealed only main effects for response latency and insecure attachment in predicting interaction ratings for women. No significant interactions emerged between response latency and attachment/response latency. For men, insecure attachment representations and rejection sensitivity demonstrated direct effects on interaction ratings. Avoidant attachment and response latency demonstrated a statistically significant interaction. Response latency and the interaction rating were negatively related only for men who scored low in avoidance. This study contributes to the body of literature assessing outcomes and qualities of romantic relationships in emerging adulthood. Technological communication is a key feature of young couples’ communication and appears more prevalent in romantic relationships than other relationships. Additionally, core relational and personality characteristics are substantially correlated to interpretations of momentto- moment interactions via technology.



Included in

Psychology Commons