Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Jeffrey Green

Second Advisor

Jody Davis


Interdependence theory (Kelley & Thibaut, 1978), one of the most widely used theories in the literature on interpersonal relationships, posits that both partners in a romantic relationships play integral roles in maintaining their relationship. Based in interdependence theory, research on the investment model of commitment (Rusbult, 1980) has revealed that individuals’ greater satisfaction and investments and lower alternatives predict greater commitment to their relationships, and commitment in turn promotes a variety of relationship-maintenance behaviors. However, no past research had examined the role of partners. Across three studies, I examined the notion that partner investments would predict individuals’ commitment above and beyond their own satisfaction, investments, and alternatives. Study 1 found that higher levels of partner investments predicted higher levels of commitment within ongoing marriages. Study 2 provided experimental support by manipulating the degree to which individuals thought their romantic partners would sacrifice for their relationship. Specifically, participants told their partners would sacrifice a great deal reported higher levels of commitment than did those told their partner would sacrifice very little. Further, the perception of partner investments mediated the relationship between the partner investments prime and commitment. Study 3 was a couples study designed to examine both actual and perceived partner investments. Despite failing to provide additional support, the findings can inform designs for future dyadic research. Studies 1 and 2 provided the first evidence of partner effects in the investment model and advance the understanding of relationship functioning by demonstrating how both partners can work to strengthen each others’ commitment.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2013

Included in

Psychology Commons