Graduation Year

2016

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Psychology

Reader 1

Jennifer Ma

Reader 2

Kevin Carlson

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2016 Emily C. Wages

Abstract

According to self-expansion theory, there is an innate drive to gain new resources, identities, and perspectives, which causes people to seek and maintain interpersonal relationships. However, an individual’s relationship partners may come into conflict with each other. In the current research, 656 adults in established monogamous romantic relationships completed an online questionnaire about romantic partners asking them to give up a friendship. The researcher explored the prevalence of this friendship interference phenomenon and its relationship to sources of self-expansion. The amount of self-expansion provided by a friendship was manipulated through vignettes. Additional measures assessed the relationship between amount of self-expansion provided by the partner and gained independently as well as desire for self-expansion on willingness to give up the proposed friendship. Further measures assessed whether a current or previous partner had requested a friendship termination, partner’s reasoning given for the request, whether the participant acquiesced to the request, and the degree to which the request contributed to break-up.

Results showed that about 1/3 of people had been asked by a romantic partner to terminate a friendship, with 73% asked acquiescing to a current partner’s request, and 34% acquiescing to a previous partner’s request. Contrary to what was predicted, no gender difference was found for rate of acquiescence to partner’s request for friendship termination. Sexual orientation, age, and desire for self-expansion significant predicted willingness to give up a friendship. Additionally, participants were mostly willing to give up the friendship when their partnership was highly self-expanding but the friendship was not, and willingness declined when the friendship was highly self-expanding, regardless of how self-expanding the partnership.