Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Studies

Committee Chair(s)

David Schramm


David Schramm


Kay Bradford


Elizabeth Fauth


Adolescence is a time when many individuals begin to participate in dating. Adolescent romantic relationships can have benefits for youth but can also be harmful if they do not have the information and skills needed to form and maintain healthy relationships. This study analyzed survey data from a youth relationship education program entitled the Premarital and Interpersonal Choices and Knowledge (PICK) program from a group of 14,468 adolescents. This study examined how different demographics were associated with decision making in relationships, referred to as relationship pacing in this study, before participating in the course. Demographic factors that were included were race, gender, family structure, number of times moved and if the individuals felt their basic needs were being met. Additional factors such as the well-being of students and if they had ever dated were also examined to test if those factors influenced their relationship pacing. This study also examined the students’ improvements in their reports of decision making in relationships after participating in the course and whether their demographics influenced how they benefited from the class. Again, their well-being and whether they had ever dated were also considered as potential moderators. Findings indicated that certain demographics did report healthier decision making prior to participating in the course and that their reports depended on their well-being and whether they had ever dated. Findings also indicated that some demographics improved in decision making after participating in the course more than others. Again, the degree of these improvements depended on factors such as their well-being and whether they had ever dated. These findings indicate that many factors influence how youth pace their relationships and that some youth may benefit from relationship education more than others. Suggestions are given for future research to continue to understand for whom relationship education is the most beneficial and for practitioners to be aware of these differences in participants when presenting relationship education courses.