Letitia Anne Peplau

Letitia Anne Peplau
University of California, Los Angeles | UCLA · Department of Psychology

PhD in Social Psychology, Harvard University

About

115
Publications
265,072
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17,196
Citations
Citations since 2016
2 Research Items
7410 Citations
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Introduction
Skills and Expertise

Publications

Publications (115)
Chapter
This collection of first-person accounts from legendary social psychologists tells the stories behind the science and offers unique insight into the development of the field from the 1950s to the present. One pillar, the grandson of a slave, was inspired by Kenneth Clark. Yet when he entered his PhD program in the 1960s, he was told that race was n...
Article
Heterosexual urban middle school students’ (N = 1,757) stereotypes about gender typicality, intelligence, and aggression were assessed. Students (Mage = 12.36 years) rated Facebook-like profiles of peers who varied by gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Several hypotheses about how the gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation of target peer...
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Although increasing numbers of gay and lesbian individuals and couples are adopting children, gay men and lesbian women continue to face increased scrutiny and legal obstacles from the child welfare system. To date, little research has compared the experiences of gay or lesbian and heterosexual adoptive parents over time, limiting conceptual unders...
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Sexual orientation can be thought of as encompassing both actual sexual experience (e.g., behavior, attraction, fantasy) and beliefs about those experiences. We refer to those beliefs as self-perceived sexual orientation. We report the first experimental evidence that manipulating situational cues directly impacts self-perceived sexual orientation...
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We compared perceived cultural stereotypes of diverse groups varying by gender and ethnicity. Using a free-response procedure, we asked 627 U.S. undergraduates to generate 10 attributes for 1 of 17 groups: Asian Americans, Blacks, Latinos, Middle Eastern Americans, or Whites; men or women; or 10 gender-by-ethnic groups (e.g., Black men or Latina wo...
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Researchers studying same-sex couples have become part of the ongoing public conversation about marriage equality. Two broad research topics have been center stage. First, policy makers and attorneys have turned to social science research to answer basic questions about the lives of lesbians and gay men. In particular, are the relationships of same...
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Adoption is known to promote cognitive and emotional development in children from foster care, but policy debates remain regarding whether children adopted by gay and lesbian parents can achieve these positive outcomes. This study compared the cognitive development and behavior problems at 2, 12, and 24 months postplacement of 82 high-risk children...
Article
Though sexuality is often described categorically, the sexual experiences that form the basis of heterosexuals' self-perceived sexuality are often not clear cut and can be open to interpretation. Factors other than actual sexual experiences may also be associated with self-perceptions of sexuality. The present research examined how personal need fo...
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How is social identity related to psychological well-being among minority individuals? Drawing on developmental models of identity formation (e.g., Erikson, 1968) and on Social Identity Theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979), we tested a conceptual model examining links between two key aspects of social identity and psychological well-being. We proposed th...
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Exposure to gay-related discrimination, perceived stigma or other stressors is associated with poorer mental health for gay and lesbian individuals. Yet not all gay men and lesbians experience the same levels or types of stressors, nor do they react the same in response to stress exposure. Using a sample of self-identified gay and lesbian individua...
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This longitudinal research investigated the personal and relationship correlates of sex role attitudes first during college and then 15 years later. The original sample of 231 college-age dating couples was studied intensively in 1972–1974, and individual participants were recontacted in 1986–1987. Results provide evidence for the reliability and v...
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The love relationships of lesbians were investigated as part of a questionnaire study of a diverse sample of 127 lesbians. The majority of women said their current relationship was extremely close, personally satisfying, and egalitarian. Differences among women's values concerning relationships reflected two distinct dimensions: dyadic attachment a...
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Factors that predicted breakups before marriage, investigated as part of a two-year study of dating relationships among college students, included unequal involvement in the relationship (as suggested by exchange theory) and discrepant age, educational aspirations, intelligence, and physical attractiveness (as suggested by filtering models). The ti...
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Research shows that in most situations, women perceive themselves to be at greater risk of harm than do men. Gustafson's gender role perspective on risk perception suggests that this is because women are socialized to feel that they need protection, especially from men. Based on Gustafson's gender role perspective on sex differences in risk percept...
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According to the positive illusions model (Murray, Holmes, & Griffin, 1996a), people in romantic relationships are more satisfied when they view their partners more favorably than the partners see themselves. By contrast, shared reality theory (Hardin & Conley, 2001) emphasizes the benefits of perceiving a partner as the partner sees himself or her...
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Lesbians and gay men frequently make decisions about concealing or disclosing their stigmatized identity. Past research has found that disclosing one's sexual orientation is often beneficial. This study aimed to answer the question, "why?". Specifically, this study tested a model in which perceived social support, emotional processing, and suppress...
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The prevalence of breast augmentation and breast lift surgery suggests that many women are dissatisfied with their breasts. This study analyzed women's and men's views about breast size and shape among 52,227 heterosexual adults, ages 18–65, who responded to an online survey. Although most women (70%) were dissatisfied with the size or shape of the...
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Does the prevalence and degree of body dissatisfaction differ among heterosexual and homosexual men and women? Some theorists have suggested that, compared to their heterosexual peers, gay men are at greater risk for body dissatisfaction and lesbians at lower risk. Past studies examining this issue have generally relied on small samples recruited f...
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In an analysis that focuses exclusively on women, the authors argue that gender nonconformity is not the key to understanding women's sexual orientation. Instead, they assert, the associations among masculinity, femininity and women's sexual orientation are diverse and vary across time and place. To develop this perspective, this paper reviews rese...
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Little is known about interest in cosmetic surgery among the general public or how this interest is related to gender, age, relationship status, body mass index, or body image satisfaction. The present study tested these associations among a sample of 52,677 heterosexual men and women aged 18 to 65 years who completed the online "ELLE/MSBNC.com Sex...
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Failure to achieve a lean and muscular build, a prominent characteristic of masculinity for many men, may lead to body dissatisfaction. In four studies the authors used silhouette measures to assess men's satisfaction with their muscularity and body fat. Across studies, many U.S. men (51-71%) were not satisfied with their body fat level. Further, o...
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This article reviews empirical studies of same-sex couples in the United States, highlighting consistent findings, drawing comparisons to heterosexual couples, and noting gaps in available research. U.S. Census data indicate that there were more than 600,000 same-sex couples living together in 2000. Research about relationship formation, the divisi...
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Past research on adults' body image has typically used small convenience samples, limiting the ability to examine associations of personal characteristics to body satisfaction. This study of 52,677 heterosexual adults ages 18-65 examined associations of body satisfaction to age, height, gender, and body mass index (BMI). Age and height were mostly...
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Past research demonstrates that heterosexuals perceive gay men to have traditionally feminine characteristics. Guided by Social Role Theory (Eagly, 1987), we predicted that this stereotype would differ depending on a gay man’s specific social role. To test this idea, participants rated five gay targets (father, single man, hairdresser, truck driver...
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This study explores cross-sex friendships within the professional workplace and examined the impact of the workplace environment and heightened awareness of sexual harassment on cross-sex friendship formation. Results from interviews with 41 professionals suggest the existence of obstacles to developing cross-sex friendships at work. Specifically,...
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WOMAN-AFFIRMING SEX: AN EXAMINATION OF FEMINIST PERSPECTIVES ON WOMEN's SEXUALITYSexual Salvation: Affrming Women's Sexual Rights and Pleasures, Naomi B. McCormick. Westport, CT:THE WIT AND WISDOM OF A FEMINIST SEXOLOGISTSex is Not a Natural Act and Other Essays, Leonore Tiefer. Boulder, CO:THE BATTLEGROUND OF OPPOSING VIEWPOINTSMale/Female Roles:...
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The media equate a man's penis size with his power and masculinity. Views about penis size were assessed in an Internet survey of 52,031 heterosexual men and women. Most men (66%) rated their penis as average, 22% as large, and 12% as small. Self-reported penis size was correlated positively with height and negatively with body fat level. Whereas 8...
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Gay men and lesbians must make decisions about disclosure of their sexual orientation. Past research has focused on an individual's overall level of disclosure or on disclosure to a specific subset of individuals. This study used a new measure, the Disclosure Grid, to assess the disclosure patterns of 89 gay men and 55 lesbians across their entire...
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This research provides the first empirical investigation of how approach and avoidance motives for engaging in sex in intimate relationships are associated with personal well-being and relationship quality. A 2-week daily experience study of college student dating couples tested specific predictions from the theoretical model and included both long...
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This research provided the first empirical investigation of how approach and avoidance motives for sacrifice in intimate relationships are associated with personal well-being and relationship quality. In Study 1, the nature of everyday sacrifices made by dating partners was examined, and a measure of approach and avoidance motives for sacrifice was...
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The diverse life experiences of contemporary lesbians are shaped by women's differing ties to two social worlds, the majority heterosexual society and the minority subculture of the lesbian or sexual-minority world. This article presents a detailed conceptual analysis of a dual-identity framework that emphasizes lesbians' simultaneous affiliations...
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This research tested predictions about the association of identity support and identity devaluation with psychological well-being (self-esteem, life satisfaction, and depression). Lesbian women completed baseline surveys (N= 42), then provided daily experience reports during a 2-week period (n= 38), and completed a 2-month follow-up survey (n= 34)....
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Common sense might suggest that lesbian workers are doubly disadvantaged due to their gender and their stigmatized sexual orientation. But empirical research documents that lesbian workers earn more than their heterosexual women peers. This article considers two reasons for the economic advantage of lesbian workers. First, because lesbians must pro...
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This paper provides a systematic review of research on sexual compliance in heterosexual relationships. Three perspectives shed light on which individuals are the most likely to comply with a sexually interested partner's desire for sex and why. A gender perspective highlights the common male-female asymmetry in compliant sexual behavior and identi...
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Several studies have shown that many college women engage in unwanted sexual activity with a dating partner. However, little research has examined the differences between women who comply with requests for unwanted sexual activity and women who do not. This study utilized an attachment theory framework to investigate individual differences in women...
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This paper critiques old models of women's sexual orientation that viewed heterosexuality as the norm for mental health, characterized lesbians as masculinized sexual “inverts,” and looked to biology to explain the development of homosexuality. A new paradigm for women's sexual orientation is presented. This paradigm emphasizes the importance of th...
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Lesbians often begin romantic relationships with high hopes that their relationships will be satisfying and long-lasting. Why do some women maintain committed and stable relationships while others do not? This article considers factors that affect commitment and stability among lesbian couples. We begin by reviewing previous empirical research on t...
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This study tested Rusbult’s (1980, 1983) investment model of relationship commitment and stability using data from both partners of 3,627 married couples. As pre-dicted, spouses’ satisfaction, investments, and quality of alternatives were unique predictors of their commitment to the marital relationship. Additionally, commitment assessed at the ini...
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What leads some women to form romantic and sexual relationships with men, and other women to form intimate relationships with women? This article presents a new conceptual paradigm for understanding women's sexual orientation that is emerging from research in such diverse fields as social psychology, sex research, evolutionary psychology, attachmen...
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Gay and lesbian political activists encourage lesbians to "come out" and get involved. Is this good advice for lesbian couples? In these secondary analyses of data collected from 784 lesbian couples in 1979 for the American Couples Study (Blumstein & Schwartz, 1983), we examined whether social involvement and disclosure of sexual orientation were s...
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This paper critiques old models of women's sexual orientation that viewed heterosexuality as the norm for mental health, characterized lesbians as masculinized sexual "inverts," and looked to biology to explain the development of homosexuality. A new paradigm for women's sexual orientation is presented. This paradigm emphasizes the importance of th...
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Researchers and theorists who attempt to generalize about sexuality and sexual orientation in both men and women simultaneously often take male experiences as the norm and ignore unique aspects of women's lives. The purpose of this issue is to focus attention on scientific research and theory about aspects of women's sexualities, with special empha...
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Major scientific findings about women's sexuality and sexual orientation are reviewed. Sexual orientation is unrelated to mental health. There is no inherent association between gender conformity and women's sexual orientation; masculinity and femininity are linked to sexual orientation in some social contexts but not in others. Research has so far...
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How do marriages become unhappy? How do marriages change? What are the theories and methods that can best illuminate our understanding of marital development? This 1998 volume comprehensively explores how marriages develop and deteriorate, and in doing so, brings together leading scholars to present research on the longitudinal course of marriage....
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Two critiques of D. J. Bem's (1996) "Exotic Becomes Erotic" (EBE) theory of sexual orientation are presented. First, the core proposition of EBE theory is considered; that is, the idea that adults are erotically attracted to the gender-based class of peers (males or females) who were dissimilar or unfamiliar to them in childhood. Studies cited by B...
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Based on the theory of reasoned action (TRA; Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975), we hypothesized that young women's career intentions would be predicted by their gender-role attitudes and perceptions of their boyfriends' and parents' career-related preferences for them. Career intention was expected to predict future career behavior. The model was tested usin...
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To examine heterosexuals' perceptions of bisexuals, 353 young adults read a description of a dating couple and rated each partner and the couple on several dimensions. The gender and sexual orientation (bisexual, heterosexual, homosexual) of each partner was varied among research participants. Compared to heterosexuals, bisexuals were seen as less...
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Does the quality of same-sex friendship depend on the gender of the friends and the balance of power between friends? Fifty-four men and 60 women undergraduates evaluated two of their same-sex friendships, one equal in power and one unequal in power. The quality of each friendship was rated in terms of emotional closeness, satisfaction, liking, sel...
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This study tested Rusbult's investment model of relationship commitment and stability using data from both partners of 167 heterosexual couples studied from 1972 to 1987. Multiple regression analyses generally confirmed predictions that rewards and costs account for a significant proportion of the variance in satisfaction and that satisfaction, inv...
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The authors examined the types of social support that lesbian and heterosexual women receive from their social networks and the link between support and psychological well-being. Participants were White, middle-class, single and coupled women. Using Robert Weiss's typology of social provisions, the authors found that lesbian and heterosexual women...
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PIP Many heterosexuals continue to engage in unprotected sexual intercourse despite the risk of contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. When sex partners do not initially agree upon condom use, influence strategies may be used to persuade one to either use or not use condoms. The authors examined the opinions and experiences of 39...
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PIP Most sexually active college students do not use condoms. 213 female and 180 male students of the University of California, Los Angeles, were individually surveyed via questionnaire on their attitudes toward condom acceptability and use and intentions to use them in future sexual activities. Students were also questioned specifically about cond...
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In 1984, a task force of the American Psychological Association (APA) Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns was charged with investigating bias in psychotherapy with lesbians and gay men. The task force surveyed a large and diverse sample of psychologists to elicit information about specific instances of respondent-defined biased and sensitive psyc...
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Although young, sexually-active heterosexuals have always been at risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases, the recent appearance of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has increased the possible peril of sexual experimentation. Currently, behaviors to reduce the risk of contracting AIDS are being widely advocated. The present study...
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infertility is, by definition, a loss of control over one's reproductive ability / very little systematic empirical research has examined how the objective facts of infertility translate into subjective experiences of personal control explore the complex ways in which infertile women understand the issue of control and the impact that perceptions...
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It is the thesis of this article that efforts to identify a distinctive set of “feminist methods” for psychological research are not only futile but unwise. We begin by discussing the defining features of feminist research in psychology. We then evaluate several proposals for distinctively feminist methods in psychology. Suggestions that feminists...
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It is often suggested that men and women have divergent orientations toward love relationships. A questionnaire study of 130 university students demonstrated that their values about romantic relationships comprise two distinct, orthogonal dimensions reflecting concerns with intimacy and with independence. However, results challenge the stereotype t...
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Forty gay male couples participated in a questionnaire study comparing relationships that partners agreed were sexually open (N =23) and relationships that partners agreed were sexually closed (N =17). No significant differences were found in the quality of open versus closed relationships. Almost all men (93%) said they were in love with their par...
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Nothing, the old adage says, is as powerful as an idea whose time has come. In the social science community, the recognition that social relationships are essential to personal health and happiness, that “friends are good medicine,” is such a timely idea. Indeed, so fundamental are social ties that several independent research traditions have devel...
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A questionnaire study investigated the balance of power in lesbian relationships and factors that affect it. Seventy-seven lesbian women currently in a romantic/sexual relationship participated. Although lesbians strongly endorsed an egalitarian ideal of equal power in love relationships, nearly 40% reported an unequal balance of power in their rel...
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This monograph is to inform and sensitize mental health workers to the importance of loneliness. Current research on loneliness and existing intervention programs pertinent to loneliness are described. The prevention research planning workshop on loneliness addressed 4 major concerns: 1) Research: What does empirical work tell us about the nature...
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Most research on contraceptive behavior has focused on individual women rather than on couples. A study of 101 college dating couples examined three issues that have been largely ignored in previous research: the applicability of Lindemann's (1974) stage model of contraceptive use to couples, agreement between partners in reports of contraceptive m...
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This study examined the applicability of Weiner's model of causal attributions to lay explanations for the causes of loneliness. Weiner posits three dimensions (Internatily, Stability, and controllability) along which causes vary and links each dimension to distinct consequences for the actor. To test the salience of these dimensions in lay percept...
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The relationship of self-disclosure and of psychological masculinity and femininity to the experience of loneliness was examined in a sample of college students. Since both disclosure and sex-typing are important factors in close interpersonal relationships, it was expected that they would also be associated with loneliness the experience of a defi...
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Two studies examined sex differences in the same-sex friendships of college men and women. In a questionnaire study, self-reports were obtained of number of friends and frequency of interaction, typical and preferred kinds of interactions with friends, and emotional intimacy. A role-play study provided more direct information about conversations be...
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A questionnaire study of 127 lesbians tested hypotheses from the social psychological literature about factors associated with relationship satisfaction. In general, lesbians in the sample reported fairly high levels of satisfaction and love in their current relationship. Results indicated that satisfaction was more strongly related to characterist...
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.During the past decade, a research literature describing the intimate relation- ,,. - ' - ships of lesbians and gay men has slowly emerged. Several books devoted to homosexual couples have recently been published, including those by Mendola (1980), Silverstein (1981), and Tanner (1978) reviewed in this issue. Other empirical studies of homosexuali...
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We propose a two-part generalization about sex differences in entering into and giving up romantic attachments: (1) Men tend to fall in love more readily than women; (2) women tend to fall out of love more readily than men. Evidence in support of these generalizations is derived from a longitudinal study of 231 college student dating couples. The d...
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A longitudinal study of 231 dating couples investigated differences between partners’ perceptions of their relationship. Sources of differing perceptions and the impact of perceptual differences on relationship continuation were explored. Although considerable perceptual disagreement was found, most of it did not appear to be linked to gender. Few...
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A questionnaire study investigated the intimate relationships of 128 gay men. Most men said their current relationship was extremely close and personally satisfying. An analysis of their values concerning these relationships identified two distinct dimensions: dyadic attachment and personal autonomy. Relationship values appeared to be part of more...
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Implications of cohabitation for courtship were explored in a two-year study of 231 college dating couples. No differences were found between living together and other "going together" couples in rates of marriage or breakup over the course of the study. Differences were found, however, in reports of satisfaction, intimacy, problems, expectations o...
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Research on loneliness has been hampered by its strong association with depression. The two states frequently co-occur, and measures of the two states are substantially correlated. Inability to manipulate experimentally loneliness or depression makes it difficult to untangle the causal influence of one on the other. The combination of longitudinal...
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The development of an adequate assessment instrument is a necessary prerequisite for social psychological research on loneliness. Two studies provide methodological refinement in the measurement of loneliness. Study 1 presents a revised version of the self-report UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) Loneliness Scale, designed to counter the...
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Two contrasting sets of expectations bear upon patterns of self-disclosure in dating couples. Traditional sex roles call for greater disclosure by women than by men. In contrast, an emerging ethic of openness calls for full and, therefore, equal disclosure by the two partners. The results of a questionnaire study of 231 college-student dating coupl...
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A study was conducted to generate (a) a model of power strategies used in intimate relationships and (b) information regarding the associations between gender, sexual orientation, egalitarianism, and power strategy use. Ss were 200 university students (100 homosexuals and 100 heterosexuals) evenly divided by gender. A 2-dimensional model was devise...