AuthorYoung, Valerie Jean
Committee ChairSegrin, Chris
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 primary aim of this study is to better understand the link between supportive and influential communication among individuals in romantic relationships and health behavior changes in their partners. Interdependence theory (Thibaut & Kelley, 1959) posits that individuals in relationships may interact in ways that emphasize their interconnected relationship by making behavioral transformations to align their own behavior with their partner (Kelley, 1979). In general, research suggests that behavioral transformations are associated with rewarding relationship outcomes (Rusbult & Van Lange, 2003), yet little is known about the communication climate within relationships and why individuals may engage in healthy or unhealthy behaviors for the sake of their relational partners. The present study examines how individuals make health-related transformations and how these transformations- both healthy and unhealthy- are associated with relationship quality, social support, and positive and negative social influence. Using the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (Kenny, Kashy & Cook, 2006) and cross-sectional dyadic data from 169 couples, results indicate that individuals in relationships engage in healthy and unhealthy transformations for their partners and that interdependence theory assumptions can be applied to an interpersonal health communication context. Specifically, being in a supportive relationship was positively associated with health, relationship quality, and healthy behavior transformations. Social influence results were mixed. Positive social influence was associated with an individual's own health, relationship satisfaction, and their partner's health behavior transformations; negative social influence was associated with lower relationship satisfaction and commitment and more frequent unhealthy behavior transformations. Individuals who reported making healthy behavior changes for their partners experienced better relationship quality. Taken together, the results of this study highlight the importance of investigating health behaviors and communication as interdependent components of interpersonal relationships.