Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Committee Director

Barbara Winstead (Director)

Committee Member

Valerian Derlega

Committee Member

James Bliss

Abstract

A significant positive correlation exists between relationship investment and the perpetration of unwanted pursuit among previous romantic partners. However, no experimental research has been conducted to enhance researchers’ knowledge of this phenomenon. This study contributed to the literature on unwanted pursuit by making investment an experimentally manipulated variable. Specifically, I employed fictional relationship scenarios with varying levels of investment to assess experimentally the impact of investment on an individual’s willingness to engage in unwanted pursuit after a breakup. It was hypothesized that higher investment would increase participants’ tendency to engage in unwanted pursuit. In addition, participants’ past perpetration of unwanted pursuit would be positively related to their perpetration of unwanted pursuit within the relationship scenario. 194 participants who were undergraduate students enrolled at Old Dominion University completed this anonymous online survey. An independent samples t-test revealed that the investment manipulation was successful. There was a significant difference in the scores for the low investment and high investment conditions. However, an independent samples t-test revealed that there was not a significant group difference between the high investment and low investment conditions in the extent to which participants engaged in unwanted pursuit within the relationship scenario. Higher investment did not significantly increase participants’ tendency to engage in unwanted pursuit within the relationship scenario. Correlational analyses revealed that unwanted pursuit perpetration within the relationship scenario was related to past perpetration of unwanted pursuit and aggression. Implications for understanding the role of relationship investment in unwanted pursuit and for developing relationship scenarios to experimentally observe relationship phenomena are discussed.

ISBN

9781369189995

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