Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Too Much Commitment May Be Unhealthy For Relationships, Professor Says

Date:
December 3, 2008
Source:
University of Houston
Summary:
Researchers report that partners who base their self-worth solely upon the outcomes of romantic interactions may experience depression and anxiety and ultimately undermine their relationships.

Romantic relationships establish special bonds between partners. Oftentimes, passionate rapport leads to permanent partnerships, and ultimately, the start of families.

Sometimes, however, one or both partners place too much emotional weight on their relationship. As a result, men or women may tend to evaluate their self-worth solely based on the outcomes of their romantic interactions. This is what psychologists term as relationship-contingent self-esteem (RCSE), and, according to University of Houston researcher Chip Knee, it's an unhealthy factor in romantic relationships.

"Individuals with high levels of RCSE are very committed to their relationships, but they also find themselves at risk to become devastated when something goes wrong -- even a relatively minor event," said Knee, UH assistant professor of psychology and director of the university's Interpersonal Relations and Motivation Research Group. "An overwhelming amount of the wrong kind of commitment can actually undermine a relationship."

Knee added that RCSE can trigger depression and anxieties during even the most minor or common relationship-based incidents, such as miscommunication, short spats over noncritical matters or a critique of one's personality or appearance.

It also factors into one or more partners developing manic, obsessive (or needy) behaviors with regard to love.

RCSE might place one at risk for serious mood changes after break-ups, divorce or threats to one's relationship. Identifying it during the early stages of a relationship can prevent such negative outcomes or help partners recognize that they are incompatible.

Knee and a group of researchers observed the impact of RCSE among heterosexual college students in a series of studies. Their findings were presented in the paper "Relationship-Contingent Self-Esteem - The Ups and Downs of Romantic Relationships," published in the flagship Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Collaborating with Knee were Amber L. Bush of UH, Amy Canevello of the University of Michigan and Astrid Cook of Idiro Technologies.

Included in these studies was a 14-day diary procedure in which 198 participants recorded the most positive and negative events in their romantic relationships.

Also documented in this daily diary were participants' feelings about themselves and their relationships.

"What we found with this particular study was that people with higher levels of RCSE felt worse about themselves during negative moments in their relationships," Knee said. "It's as if it doesn't matter why the negative occurrence happens or who was at fault. The partners with stronger RCSE still feel badly about themselves."

Individuals with RCSE also are prone to react more emotionally to relationship-based situations, Knee added. Instead of taking a step back, analyzing a situation and determining how to best address it, those with RCSE respond immediately and impulsively.

"When something happens in a relationship, these individuals don't separate themselves from it," he said. "They immediately feel personally connected to any negative circumstance in a relationship and become anxious, more depressed and hostile."

RCSE is one of the research areas being explored by Knee and UH's Interpersonal Relations and Motivation Research Group (IRMRG).

The group studies close relationships and health and conducts research via laboratory experiments, surveys and longitudinal diary methods.

Research is focused on how individuals' beliefs about relationships guide their thoughts, emotions and behaviors; the unhealthy ways in which people attach themselves to close relationships; and how to reduce or even eliminate interpersonal defensiveness.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Houston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Houston. "Too Much Commitment May Be Unhealthy For Relationships, Professor Says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081202170828.htm>.
University of Houston. (2008, December 3). Too Much Commitment May Be Unhealthy For Relationships, Professor Says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081202170828.htm
University of Houston. "Too Much Commitment May Be Unhealthy For Relationships, Professor Says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081202170828.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins