Trust in Dating Relationships: The Role of Communal Orientation
Type of DegreeThesis
Human Development and Family Studies
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The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between communal orientation and trust in recently established dating relationships. We expected that the degree to which one’s partner was perceived to have a communal orientation would be associated with trust. We also expected that perceptions of one’s partner would be related to one’s own communal orientation as well as the self-reported communal orientation of one’s partner. Perceptions of the communal orientation of one’s ideal partner were anticipated to partially mediate the association between one’s communal orientation and one’s perceptions of his or her partner. The sample included 302 undergraduate students and their relationship partners (151 couples). Of these couples, only 10 reported relationship durations of one month or less, limiting our findings to established relationships. Participants completed the Trust Scale (Rempel, Holmes, & Zanna, 1985) and the Communal Orientation Scale (Clark, Powell, Ouellette, & Milberg, 1987) pertaining to the one’s own communal orientation as well that of their partner and their ideal partner. We found that women’s perceptions of their partner were related to their levels of trust and these perceptions were partially based on men’s self-reported communal orientation. Women’s perceptions of the communal orientation of their ideal partner accounted for a large portion of the remaining variance in perceptions of their partner. Perceptions of one’s ideal also fully mediated the relationship between women’s self-reported communal orientation and their perceptions of their partner. Men’s perceptions of the communal orientation of their ideal partner also mediated the relationship between their own communal orientation and their perceptions of their partner, but their perceptions of their partner were only marginally associated with trust. Instead, men’s self-reported communal orientation was related to their perception of trust in the relationship. These findings suggest that men’s and women’s communal orientation play an important role in understanding perceptions of trust in dating relationships.