AuthorDunbar, Norah Ellen
AdvisorBurgoon, Judee K.
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.
AbstractThis investigation presents a model to explain and test the influence of power and communication in close relationships. Rollins and Bahr's (1976) theory of power in marital relationships, referred to here as dyadic power theory, was expanded to include communication behavior. The theory, which emphasizes the dyadic nature of power, draws upon social exchange theory, the chilling effect, sex roles, and normative resource theory. It is proposed that perceptions of legitimate authority to make decisions and access to a variety of resources should increase individuals' perceptions of their own power compared to their partner. Perceptions of power, in turn, should increase the likelihood of using dominant communication behavior in an attempt to control the interaction. Greater control attempts should lead greater influence over decisions. It is also predicted that perceptions of power and control will increase relational satisfaction for the partner having power. The prepositional framework of dyadic power theory is explicated and several hypotheses based on the theory are given. Ninety-seven couples (58 married, 39 cohabiting) participated in a study of power in relationships. Couples completed surveys on perceptions of their authority, resources and power compared to their partner. The couples then completed a problem-solving task together while being videotaped. The videotapes were coded for a variety of verbal and nonverbal control attempts including dysfluencies, interruptions, frequency of adaptor and illustrator gestures, vocal characteristics, and dominance. The model tested in this investigation was largely supported. Individuals' perceptions of authority and resources were predictors of perceived relative power, and perceptions of power led to more dominant communication behavior during discussions with their partner. This dominant behavior led to control over the outcome of their interaction. Relational satisfaction was not influenced by the amount of power or control enjoyed by the participants. Men reported having more psychological, physical and economic resources while women reported greater authority over the household and children. Masculine individuals reported feeling more powerful and contributed more to the outcome of the discussions with their partners than feminine individuals overall. The influence of personality traits and suggestions for future revisions of dyadic power theory are discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College