The Social Context of Social Loss: Interpersonal Mediators and Moderators of Emotional Adjustment to a Romantic Breakup
AuthorLee, Lauren A.
AdvisorSbarra, David A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe breakup of a non-marital romantic relationship is a common experience, yet we know little about the factors associated with coping and recovery. Even less is known about the social context in which these breakups occur, such as how the ongoing relationship between two people (who were formerly in a relationship) impacts emotional adjustment. Relationship breakups are not always a definitive event, but rather a process that unfolds over time. By studying these associations, as well as the influence of other supportive people in shaping recovery, research can move beyond individual variables to cast a truly social or interpersonal light on this topic. With this broad goal in mind, my dissertation addresses four specific aims that are designed to: (1) Understand how specific forms of ex-partner contact are associated with variability in emotional adjustment following a romantic breakup; (2) Examine the moderators and mediators of these associations; (3) explore the associations between the social support efforts of close friends/family and participants' emotional adjustment with a specific focus on evaluating the correlates of target participants' received support with respect to informants' reports of support provided; and (4) explore the implications of having a friend/family member report on participants' responses to the separation in altering a target participant's self-report of adjustment over time. One-hundred forty-five (n = 25 men) participants provided reports of contact with ex-partners and emotional adjustment over a 5-week period, half of whom were randomly assigned to participate in the study with an informant. Out of 73 participants in this condition, 48 informants agreed to participate on behalf of their target participant also reporting the participant's ex-partner contact behaviors and emotional adjustment. For men and/or those with high attachment anxiety and avoidance, ex-partner contact is not associated with poorer emotional adjustment. Support also was found for two mechanisms, longing and rumination, which explain the association of ex-partner contact and emotional adjustment, as well as for attachment anxiety as a moderator of part of the indirect effect. No support was found for invisible support analyses or for cognitive reappraisal as a potential mechanism that explains the effects of invisible support, and the lack of findings is addressed. Finally, findings suggest that inclusion of informants may impact the validity of target participants' responses, insomuch as participants may alter their behaviors and/or the extent to which they are truthful about their behaviors due to knowing an informant was reporting on their behaviors.
Degree ProgramGraduate College