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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Return to Top