GINA SCHIAVONI
Any questions please mail to: gschiavo@anselm.edu 
 TRUST AND MOTIVATIONAL STYLES IN ADULT RELATIONSHIPS
Background Research Question Method
Results Implications Relevant Links

 

BACKGROUND

Adult romantic relationships are formed everyday each different and unique upon themselves.  The majority of adult relationships predominantly find themselves in a dating relationship or marriage.  What differentiates dating and married relationships besides the distinction of monogamy  established in a marriage?  The current research examines the element of trust in a relationship and in one's partner as a main difference.  Based on the research of John Rempel (1985) trust is established in three stages of dependability, predictability, and faith. Dependability in a partner is being able to rely and count on their partner in good times and in bad times.  The predictability of a partner is based on past experiences and knowledge of one's partner and how they will act in situations.  Lastly, faith which Rempel (1985) saw as most important for it takes an element of risk and relying more on one's own feelings about their partner to allow a person to move further into their relationship. It is believed that once a strong sense of trust is developed between the two partners in a relationship it enables a person to view their partner's motivations,  in addition to their own. 

Rempel (1985) established three broad categories of motivations from attribution theorists on task motivations.  From the attribution theorists is the intrinsic-extrinsic model where intrinsic motives in terms of adult relationships derives reward directly from the relationship where both partners are equally happy.  Extrinsic, in terms of adult relationships derives the reward from self-serving purposes where the partner is used as a vehicle to obtain particular rewards like social status and wealth.  Rempel (1985) added a third category called instrumental motivations where the rewards are based around the partner and what they provide such as praise and comfort.

top
RESEARCH QUESTION
One hypothesis of the study was married participants would report higher levels of trust in their partner and their relationship on all three sub scales than the dating participants would.  In relation to the hypothesis of married persons reporting higher levels of trust, the study predicted these higher levels of trust would relate to the person's motivations.   The second hypothesis was married participants would base their relationship more on intrinsic and instrumental motives and less on extrinsic motivations where the dating participants were more likely to report extrinsic motivations.  Lastly, the study examined any correlation between one's  trust and motivations, personally and for the partner.


top

METHOD
The participants of this study were from a small, Catholic, Liberal Arts College in the Northeast.  There were 36 participants in the study, 23 in dating relationships and 13 married.  There were eight male participants, three were in dating relationships and five were married.  For the female participants, 20 were dating participants and eight were married participants.  The mean age of the dating participants was 18.65 and for the married participants it was 39.17.

Three questionnaires were used to gather data for this study.  The first questionnaire was Rempel's (1985) Trust Scale which measured the three sub scales of trust in seventeen questions on dependability, predictability and faith. Another questionnaire used was Rempel's (1985) Personal Motivation Scale which measured the participant's intrinsic, extrinsic, and instrumental motivations.  Lastly, the Rempel (1985) Partner Motivation Scale created the setting for the participant to answer the questions as though he/she thought the partner would answer. The Partner Motivation Scale (Rempel,1985) measured for intrinsic, extrinsic, and instrumental motivations.

The Trust Scale (Rempel, 1985) was on a Likert scale of 1 to 7 with 1 as strongly agree and 7 as strongly disagree with a lower score representing greater levels of trust.  On the Personal (Rempel, 1985) and Partner (1985) Motivation Scales a Likert scale of 1 to 7 with 1 as plays no role at all and 7 as plays an extremely important role was used.  Higher scores  on a particular motivational sub scale meant a stronger emphasis on that sub scale whether it be intrinsic, extrinsic or instrumental. 

top


RESULTS

 
The findings of the study were that married participants did in fact have higher levels of trust in their partner that dating participants.   On the variable motivation, married participants personally and for their partner were less likely to base their motives on extrinsic values.   A correlation was also found with the married participants between faith (a component of trust) and instrumental and extrinsic motivations. 


top

IMPLICATIONS
 
The findings of the study support the belief that marriage is completely distinct from dating relationships in the level of trust that is needed to completely commit to another person monogamously for the rest of one's life.  Dating relationships view trust as important as do most relationships, however it takes a higher level of trust to be willing to enter into the sanctity of marriage.  Once trust is developed in a relationship, whether it be dating or marriage it enables one to recognize their own motivations more clearly as well as some insight into what their partner's motivations are. It was believed that because of married people's higher levels of faith in their partner that they were less likely to base their motives for self serving reasons (extrinsic motivations), but rather they place more motivation on the relationship itself and their partner. 
 

 

Relevant Links

Return to Top

Return to Psychology Department Homepage   Return to Senior Thesis Homepage