Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Research supports the assumption that the attitudes of persons and groups external to an adolescent couple play a role in the dyad’s dating experience. Distal influences may come from several sources including parents, religion, society in general, and the dyad’s cohort. These influences can impact the couple in many ways, especially on perceived relationship satisfaction. In the present study, we distributed a questionnaire consisting of a published measure of satisfaction and a new measure of distal influences to 97 first year college students at a small rural Christian college. Participants chose and reflected upon a dating relationship from their adolescence that lasted at least four months. Several enlightening trends emerged regarding the relationship between external influences and relationship satisfaction. A bivariate correlation analysis found that the influences from Society, r(95) = -.35, p < .001, and Cohort, r(95) = -.31, p = .002, have negative correlations with Satisfaction whereas Parents, r(95) = .24, p = .017, and Religion, r(95) = .34, p = .001, are positively correlated with Satisfaction. An analysis of linear regression showed that when controlling for other predictors, influences from the dyad’s Cohort were the best predictor of low Satisfaction, b = -.21, t(90) = -2.04, p = .04; influences from Religion were found to be the best predictor of elevated Satisfaction, b = .21, t(90) = 1.98, p = .05. These conclusions have distinct implications for how parents, administrators, researchers and professionals view the role of social influences on romantic relationships for adolescents.

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