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The role of couple rituals on commitment in premarital relationships Campbell, Kelly 2003

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The role of couple rituals on commitment in premarital relationships By ' Ke l ly Campbell Bachelor of Arts, University of British Columbia, 2000 A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfil lment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts In The Faculty of Graduate Studies School of Social Work and Family Studies We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard The University of British Columbia August, 2003 © Kel ly Campbell, 2003 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of ^ O r S o p i p f i b c f o l Nofc t pMity ^ d l < Z S The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date AaQUSl- 3f, JC£>3 DE-6 (2/88) A B S T R A C T The purpose of this study was to examine the role of couple rituals on premarital commitment. Data were collected using a rituals measure designed for this study and Rusbult's investment model scale. Responses from 101 undergraduate students at the University of British Columbia were analyzed. Regression analyses were used to test the hypotheses. The investment model was supported: relationship satisfaction, quality of alternatives, and investment size were significantly associated with commitment. In addition, rituals associated positively with satisfaction level, investment size, and commitment and negatively with quality of alternatives. However, the relationship between rituals and commitment was not significant when controlling for the investment model predictors of satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size. The variables of satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size were shown to act as mediators in the relationship between rituals and commitment. ii TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT ii TABLE OF CONTENTS i i i LIST OF TABLES v LIST OF FIGURES vi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS vii CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION 1 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE 4 Rituals 4 Definition 4 Functions 4 Satisfaction 5 Stability 5 Identity 6 Categories 9 Celebrations ..10 Traditions 11 Interactions 12 Summary 13 CHAPTER 3 CONCEPTUAL MODEL 1 5 Investment Model. 15 Commitment 17 Satisfaction level 17 Quality of alternatives 18 Investment size 19 Summary 20 Hypotheses 20 Hypothesis 1 21 Hypothesis II 21 Hypothesis III 21 Hypothesis IV 22 Hypothesis V 23 Hypothesis VI 23 iii CHAPTER 4 METHODOLOGY 24 Participant Requirements 24 Data Collection Procedure 24 Measures 24 Premarital Rituals Scale 25 Investment Model Scale 28 Scale Analyses 31 Demographic variables 33 CHAPTER 5 RESULTS 35 Sample Description 35 Univariate Distributions 37 Hypothesis Testing 39 Hypothesis 1 40 Hypothesis II 41 Hypothesis III <. 41 Hypothesis IV 42 Hypothesis V 42 Hypothesis V I 42 Post Hoc Analysis 44 CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSION 46 CHAPTER 7 51 Limitations of the Study 51 Implications for Future Research 52 REFERENCES 54 APPENDIX A QUESTIONNAIRE USED IN THE STUDY 61 LIST OF TABLES Table 1. Ritual Types for the Premarital Rituals Scale 26 Table 2. Ritual Dimensions 27 Table 3. Cronbach's Alpha Scores for the IMS and Premarital Rituals Scale 32 Table 4. Correlation Matrix for the Nine Rituals Subscales 33 Table 5. Distribution of Sample Members by Ethnicity 36 Table 6. Distribution of Sample Members by Faculty 36 Table 7. Comparison of Means and Standard Deviations for the Investment Model Scale Items 39 Table 8. Summary of Multiple Regression Results for the Investment Model with Commitment as the Dependent Variable .41 Table 9. Linear Regression Results for Rituals and the Investment Model Variables ....42 Table 10. Hierarchical Regression Results for Hypothesis V I with Commitment as the Dependent Variable 43 Table 11. Pearson Correlation Coefficients for the Dependent and Independent Variables 44 L I S T O F F I G U R E S Figure 1. Proposed Relationship of Rituals to the Investment Model 21 Figure 2. Revised Mediational Relationship of Rituals and the Investment Model 44 vi A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S In my opinion, there is no greater gift than sharing your knowledge with others. I am fortunate to have so many great teachers in my life. I want to thank my mom and sister for teaching me something new everyday. They are the definition of supportive, intelligent, loving, and fun. I would also like to thank every Family Studies faculty member. Each professor has contributed something unique to my learning experience at U B C . I would like to extend a special thank you to my thesis supervisor, Dr. Ponzetti, who provided feedback and assistance for the duration of this project. Thank you to Dr. Johnson for the good advice she provided during my entire two years of graduate school. Thank you to Dr. Perlman who was a mentor for me throughout my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Thank you to Dr. Peterat for agreeing to be on my thesis committee. Thank you to Dr. Yodanis for helping with statistics and being patient with my questions. Finally, thank you to all the students and professors who agreed to participate and help with my study! vii C H A P T E R 1 I N T R O D U C T I O N Today, more than ever, intimate relationships are likely to dissolve. From 1998 to 2000, the Canadian divorce rate rose by three percent (Statistics Canada, 2003). In the year 2000, over 70,000 Canadian marriages ended in divorce. The breakup rates of premarital couples are not documented by national surveys, but can be assumed to be similar to those of divorce. Premarital relationships include couples that are dating, cohabiting, or engaged. Premarital relationships are likely to dissolve with even greater frequency, because unlike marital unions, they are not formally recognized. The study of commitment in premarital relationships is important because dissolution has detrimental effects for the individuals involved (Brehm, 1992). For example, losing a close partner can lead to despair and distress. Feelings of regret and depression are also commonly experienced when relationships dissolve. Individuals generally try to find an explanation as to what went wrong in past relationships. When individuals feel as though the cause of dissolution was out of their control, increased feelings of sadness and aggravation may be experienced (Peterson, Rosenbaum, & Conn, 1985). Different variables have been linked to relationship dissolution. Defensive interaction styles, low relationship satisfaction, and access to alternative partners contribute to relationship break up. Defensive interaction styles that include renouncing responsibility, making excuses, and disagreeing continuously, increase the chances of separation (Felmlee, Sprecher, & Bassin, 1990; Gottman & Levenson, 1992). Relationship dissatisfaction is commonly cited as a factor leading to relationship termination (Levinger, 1965). Individuals are especially l ikely to dissolve a partnership when satisfaction is low and alternative partners are available (Rusbult, Martz, & Agnew, 1998). 1 Three variables collectively predict commitment (Rusbult et al., 1998). Highly satisfied individuals, meaning those who are happy and gratified in their relationship, are more committed than those who are not satisfied. Partners who have few relationship alternatives are more committed than people who have many potential partners available. Individuals who have invested money, time, and effort are more committed than people who have invested fewer resources into their relationship. Relationship satisfaction, quality of alternatives, and investment size have been studied extensively and found to predict commitment (Le & Agnew, 2003). Couples who report greater commitment engage in more positive relationship behaviors. Committed couples have been shown to use constructive problem solving skills such as considering their partner's perspective, owning responsibility, and providing positive feedback. They also tend to compromise and do not reciprocate negative behaviours. These behaviours are related to increased commitment (Rusbult, Verett, Whitney, Slovik, & Lipkus, 1991; Shumway & Wampler, 2002; Swensen & Trahaug, 1985). Partners in committed relationships also tend to sacrifice more for each other and the relationship. They often perceive their relationship to be superior compared to other relationships (Rusbult & Buunk, 1993; Rusbult, Wieselquist, Foster, & Witcher, 1999). Committed individuals are likely to report other potential partners as less attractive. They express lower levels of attraction towards them (Johnson & Rusbult, 1989). Rituals strengthen close relationships. Rituals are defined as repeated behaviours that are meaningful for the participants. Rituals serve positive functions in marital and family relationships. Couple rituals strengthen marital bonds, solidify a shared identity, and affirm common beliefs (Baxter, 1987; Braithwaite & Baxter, 1995; Bruess & Pearson, 1997). They clarify marital role expectations, enhance relationship satisfaction, and increase feelings of intimacy (Berg-Cross, Daniels, & Carr, 1992; Chesser, 1980). Rituals increase family stability, promote feelings of security, and help maintain familial relationships during times of uncertainty or crisis (Cheal, 1988; Fiese, Hooker, Kotary, & Schwagler, 1993; Meredith, 1985; Wol in & Bennett, 1984). The variables of identity, satisfaction, and stability have also been linked empirically to relationship commitment (Agnew, Van Lange, Rusbult, & Langston, 1998; Acitel l i , Rogers, Raymond, & Knee, 1999; Rusbult, et al., 1998). For example, commitment is high for individuals who perceive their identity as linked to their partner and to the relationship. Individuals who are satisfied with their relationship are more likely to be committed to their partner and to have a stable relationship. The links between these variables and rituals suggests an association between commitment and rituals. This study explores the association between rituals and commitment in premarital relationships. The variables of satisfaction, quality of alternatives, and investment size have been identified as predictors of commitment for premarital couples. Relationship satisfaction and investments have already been linked empirically to rituals for marital couples (Berg-Cross et al., 1992; Braithwaite & Baxter, 1995). The purpose of this study is twofold. First, this research seeks to replicate the findings of Rusbult, Martz, and Agnew (1998) that satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size predict commitment in premarital relationships. Next, this research examines association between rituals and commitment. Researchers have yet to investigate the relationship between rituals and commitment in premarital relationships. This study furthers the existing literature on rituals and commitment and provides a foundation for future research in this area. 3 C H A P T E R 2 R E V I E W O F L I T E R A T U R E Rituals research to date has focused on marital and family relationships. This review addresses the definition and functions of rituals based on studies of marriage and the family. The ritual categories of celebrations, traditions, and interactions are then presented. Interaction rituals are identified as the category of focus for this study. A n explanation of their importance in premarital relationships concludes the review. Definition of rituals Rituals are difficult to define because they vary depending on the person, family, or culture and are specific to the actors involved. Any ritual, whether enacted by one person or by many, w i l l have two properties: repetition and meaning (Bruess & Pearson, 1997; Wol in & Bennett, 1984). Rituals are repeated, meaningful behaviours. Couple rituals are behaviors that are carried out repetitively over time and hold positive meaning for both partners. Functions of rituals Rituals serve positive functions for close relationships. Rituals research to date has ignored premarital couples and focused on either marital or family relationships. It is relevant to generalize from these samples however, as they provide a good account of ritual enactment in close relationships. Rituals serve to promote relationship satisfaction, stability, and identity. Bossard and Bo l l (1950) conducted the first large scale study on family rituals and found all three functions to be salient in their sample. The researchers qualitatively analyzed interview and diary data from 186 families. Rituals were carried on through time because of the satisfaction they brought to their participants. Ritual activities lay at the heart of a family's collective "culture", and provided the means for transmitting beliefs and values across generations of family members (Bossard & Bol l , 1950). Study participants recalled that from childhood through adulthood, their 4 family identity was created and maintained by the rituals they practiced. Ritual enactment allowed family members to acknowledge their shared expectations, attitudes, and goals. Satisfaction. Ritual enactment increases marital satisfaction. Fiese, Hooker, Kotary, and Schwagler (1993) examined the role of rituals in families with young children. The researchers interviewed 115 married couples and asked participants to complete the Family Rituals Questionnaire and the Dyadic Adjustment Scale. Couples who attached significant meaning to their family rituals also reported greater marital satisfaction. Berg-Cross, Daniels, and Carr (1992) reported couples that engaged in more rituals reported greater satisfaction with their relationships than couples that engaged in fewer rituals. Their sample consisted o f 77 Black, middle class women who were both married and divorced. Participants retrospectively reflected on their marriage and provided a report o f the frequency and significance of their marital rituals. Marital duration was considered in connection with ritual reports. Women who were married the longest (10 years or more) reported the most ritual activity. Dissolution was highest for those who described their ritual interactions as infrequent and less meaningful. Stability. Rituals are related to marital stability. Rituals clarify role expectations and create boundaries between the couple and outsiders. Chesser (1980) examined rituals from a historical perspective and noted that wedding rituals, such as exchanging rings and proclaiming vows, enable spouses to clarify role expectations and begin their marital relationship with honest intentions. Public rituals demonstrate to outsiders that the couple relationship is strong and that the couple shares a joint lifestyle. Examples of such rituals include weddings, visiting mutual friends, attending events as a couple, and taking vacations together (Bossard & Bo l l , 1950; Fiese et al., 1993). Couples who incorporate rituals into their marriage are more likely to have stable and long lasting relationships (Berg-Cross et al., 1992). Rituals have also been recommended as a therapy technique to increase martial stability (Imber-Black, 1988). 5 Rituals stabilize families during times of transition and crisis (Bossard & Bo l l , 1950; McCubbin & McCubbin, 1988). Rituals help families cope with stress and adapt to changing circumstances. For example, the importance of ritual enactment in alcoholic families has been investigated (Bennett, Wol in, Reiss, & Teitelbaum, 1987; Wol in, Bennett, & Jacobs, 1988; Wol in, Bennett, & Noonan, 1979). Children are less likely to repeat the alcoholic patterns of their parents when family rituals are regularly practiced. Families whose rituals remain intact despite the effects of alcoholism also report having fewer health problems. Rituals ease the transition to parenthood (Fiese et al., 1993; Sprunger, Boyce, & Gaines, 1985). The transition to parenthood has been identified as a time of uncertainty for new parents. Research has examined the role of rituals for, parents of newborns and for parents of preschool children. When parents experience the birth of their first child, rituals are shown to ease the transition and adaptation to parenthood. Similarly, families who practice meaningful rituals as their children enter preschool, report more happy and stable relationships (Fiese et al., 1993). Identity. Rituals help build a shared family identity. Stepfamilies often have a hard time developing a collective identity (Papernow, 1984; Whiteside, 1988a). During times of remarriage, and especially when one or more partners have children, two families must come together and redefine their rules and family norms (Whiteside, 1988a). Rituals help establish the family's collective sense of self. Rituals have been recommended by family therapists to ease the transition process and help families adapt to new living conditions (Whiteside, 1988b). When ritual practices from each side of the family are merged, family members are more likely to feel as tiiough they share a common identity. Similar results have been found in families with adopted children (Whiteside, 1988b). Rituals that combine practices from the adopted child's family with practices of the new family help both sides develop a collective identity. This shared family identity is similar to couple identity in married and premarital relationships (Bruess & Pearson, 1997). 6 Rituals help build couple identity. Doherty (2001) noted that marital therapists would be out of business i f couples practiced rituals on a daily basis. Doherty is a researcher and family life educator who has interviewed thousands of married couples about their ritual practices (Doherty, 1999; 2001). Doherty recognized that daily rituals build a shared meaning system and define the couple as unique. Doherty (2001) illustrated this point by referring to a ritual from his marriage. Each night at 10pm, he and his wife sit in their outdoor hot tub and look at the stars.' The couple does not talk during this ritual. They simply look into the sky and think about their day. This ritual allows the couple to spend time alone together, engaging in an activity that they both enjoy. It has become part of what makes their relationship unique. Couple rituals enable partners to develop a shared meaning system based on the specific bahaviours they value in their relationship. Couple culture refers to the unique meaning system that exists between intimate partners. Researchers provide theory-based explanations about the development of this meaning system for married couples. Berger and Kellner (1984) proposed that individuals develop definitions of reality, based on their socialization and interaction with significant others. When two individuals come together in an intimate relationship, they must integrate their individual conceptions of reality to develop a common definition of how relationships work. This shared couple reality becomes validated through conversation and joint experiences. Individuals engage in interactions that are congruent with their combined beliefs about how intimate relationships are supposed to function. Couple culture has been described in the context of married interactions, but can also apply to premarital couples. Couple culture can be illustrated using an imaginary relationship of John and Mary. John and Mary attend the same university and met in one of their classes. They have been involved in a dating relationship for fifteen months. Neither had been involved in an intimate relationship before. Prior to meeting, each had preconceived ideas about how intimate partners interact. 7 Their beliefs about intimate relationships were based on knowledge acquired from their families and friends. John considered sexual interaction with his partner to be important. Mary had been socialized to believe that it was wrong to engage in premarital sex. Her mother had always told her that intercourse must wait until marriage. Mary placed importance on financial stability. John had been socialized to believe that males and females should contribute equally to the financial maintenance of a relationship. John's mother and father managed the family finances together, and most of John's friends paid equally for expenditures in their relationships. When John and Mary committed to one another, they discussed their individual beliefs, and came to a re-defined agreement about how their relationship would function. Mary decided to take part in sexual activities with John, and realized she felt comfortable and enjoyed doing so. John agreed to pay for most o f the relationship expenses, such as dinner or movie dates, which Mary considered appropriate. Their daily interactions affirmed their negotiated couple agreement, and provided the foundation for building their couple culture. Rituals help build couple culture. Braithwaite and Baxter (1995) used open-ended questions to interview 25 individuals about their martial rituals. The researchers found that a shared bond and meaning system develops for couples that engage in rituals together. Couple culture arises from a sharing of private knowledge and experiences that occur within the dyad. It involves more than the negotiation of preferences. For example, one day when John and Mary were having a disagreement, John leaned in and gave Mary a kiss on the nose. Mary responded favorably to this, and the argument was resolved sooner than expected. John now repeats this behaviour when the couple is not getting along. The ritual o f kissing Mary on the nose to help ease tension represents a sharing of private knowledge. Unless it was first explained, people outside the relationship would not be able to describe the meaning this action has for John and Mary. Their ritual provides an illustration of the uniqueness associated to each relationship's 8 couple culture. No two couple cultures are the same because each culture emerges from the characteristics and interactions of a particular partnership. Each relationship consists of its own distinct characteristics, such that the combination of two different people would yield a different couple culture. Individuals select unique relationship characteristics to endow with special meaning. For example, the couple might use certain nicknames for each other or private jokes that are understood only by the couple themselves. This private language could be derived from a relationship characteristic or a shared event that carried special meaning for the couple. Bruess and Pearson (1997) used interviews and open-ended questionnaires to examine the ritual practices of 99 married couples. In their study, one couple reported using the phrase "Honey, you make me hotter than Georgia asphalt" (p. 35), which was derived from a movie they had seen together. The couple to remind them of their shared experience, and to reinforce their feelings of attraction for one another repeated it. Ritual Categories Rituals are identified as repeated behaviors that are meaningful for the participants (Wol in & Bennett, 1984). Rituals occur with varying frequency. Some rituals are carried out several times a day, whereas others only occur once per year. For example, talking on the phone or eating meals together typically occur on a daily basis. However, wedding anniversaries and birthday parties normally take place once a year. Rituals also vary according to meaning. Some rituals hold meaning for an entire culture, whereas others hold meaning exclusively for the couple or family. For example, most people in a given culture celebrate Christmas or the New Year. However, rituals such as going for a jog every Sunday morning or looking at the stars each night would only apply to specific individuals. Frequency and meaning are properties of al l rituals, including those enacted by a culture, a family, or two people in a dating relationship. 9 Wol in and Bennett (1984) examined family rituals using interviews and clinical observations. The researchers identified three categories of rituals that represent varying degrees of frequency and meaning. The categories of celebrations, traditions, and interactions have been used in previous studies of family rituals and are employed here to guide the focus of rituals (Fiese et al., 1993; Wol in & Bennett, 1984). Each of these ritual categories contribute in some way to strengthening the couple's unique meaning system. Celebration and tradition rituals are somewhat important for building couple culture, but interaction rituals are the most couple-specific type. Interaction rituals help reinforce couple culture on a regular basis and are of primary interest when examining couple rituals. Celebrations, traditions, and interactions are each reviewed here to illustrate how rituals help build and maintain relationships. Celebration rituals. Celebration rituals occur infrequently, usually a few times each year. This ritual type is enacted in a similar fashion within a particular society (Fiese & Kl ine, 1993; Wol in & Bennett, 1984). For example, national holidays (i.e., Remembrance Day, Canada Day) are celebrated the same way and on the same date by most people. These holidays fol low a generalized guideline of enactment, which allows for modest variation depending on who the individual participants are. On Remembrance Day for example, most people wear poppy flowers on their jackets, and take a moment of silence to remember soldiers of the world wars. Some individuals, such as those who had relatives in the war, may attend organized events or incorporate family specific activities. Religious and cultural holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, and Chinese New Year, would also be classified as celebration rituals. Celebrations are enacted in a highly stylized manner because they can be planned for in advance, they apply to several people at each enactment, and they occur relatively infrequently (Fiese & Kl ine, 1993; Wol in & Bennett, 1984). Celebrations are the least couple-specific ritual type. Bruess and Pearson (1997) found that celebrations were the most infrequently identified ritual among married couples. 10 Respondents reported that these rituals followed established cultural rules of enactment, and were therefore less personalized or specific to their couple relationship. Due to their widespread practice, individuals felt as though these rituals contributed more to strengthening their relationship with society than with their partner. Tradition rituals. Traditions occur more frequently than celebration rituals. Traditions include events that are recognized by the larger society, yet are enacted according to personalized guidelines (Wol in & Bennett, 1984). For example, everyone knows what a "birthday" is and there is an established script of what people generally do on their birthdays. However, within a particular society, people celebrate birthdays on different days and in different ways. Traditions include rituals such as birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, and reunions. Each tradition, such as a birthday, might only occur once per year for an individual, but could occur several times per year when considering the number of family members and friends having birthdays. A given person could attend birthday parties on numerous occasions each year, making this ritual type more frequent than celebrations. Compared to celebrations, traditions involve fewer people at each occasion and can be more flexibly tailored to the specific participants. At each occasion, fewer people enact anniversaries or family reunions compared to national holidays. Tradition rituals are more specific to the couple than celebrations. Because family and friends also participate in traditions, these rituals do not pertain exclusively to the couple (Bruess & Pearson, 1997; Wol in & Bennett, 1984). Traditions generally strengthen relationships with an intimate partner and with members of a broader social network (Bruess & Pearson, 1997). Although the participants might vary slightly from one tradition to the next, they generally include the same core members. For example, annual family reunions wi l l generally consist of the same family members from year to year. Tradition rituals can be enacted solely by the couple dyad, but they generally incorporate family and friends. 11 Interaction rituals. Interaction rituals occur most frequently. Individuals spend ample time engaging in interactions because they occur on a regular or daily basis (Viere, 2001; Wol in & Bennett, 1984). Examples of interaction rituals include eating meals together, saying hello or goodbye, and participating inregular weekend activities. These activities qualify as rituals i f couples ascribe positive meaning to their enactment and consider them important aspects of their coupled relationship. Therefore, eating meals together or engaging in weekend activities may qualify as rituals for one couple and not another. Interaction rituals can be confused with routines. Both rituals and routines involve repeated behaviours. The distinguishing factor between rituals and routines is their meaning (Viere, 2001). Rituals hold meaning for their participants and routines do not. Rituals are behaviours that get repeated because individuals attach emotion and importance to their enactment. Routines are behaviours that get repeated out of habit or efficiency. A routine can become a ritual when participants choose the activity based on an identified preference for it. Rituals fulf i l l emotional desires and bring satisfaction to their participants. Couples repeat behaviours that both partners find rewarding. Typically, couple rituals would not carry the same meaning i f enacted with another person. Interaction rituals are the most couple-specific ritual type. They are often enacted exclusively within the couple and do not pertain to society at large. For example, the ritual of gazing at the stars each night from an outdoor hot tub would not be recognized or enacted on a societal or cultural level. Interaction rituals are not easily identified or explained by anyone but the actual couple members. Although several people in a given culture have mealtime or nighttime rituals, the manner of enacting these rituals is couple specific. Bruess and Pearson (1997) found that 96% of reported couple rituals fell into the category of interaction rituals. The high frequency of these rituals helps create and establish couple culture on a daily basis. Interaction rituals are especially pertinent to premarital relationships. Individuals in premarital 12 relationships are often involved with their partner for less than a year. These individuals might not have the opportunity to engage in less frequent or annual rituals such as celebrations and traditions. Therefore, interaction rituals are the most important type for premarital relationships because they occur frequently and allow couples ample opportunity to build couple culture. Researchers have identified five dimensions pertinent to the study of interaction rituals (Fiese & Kline, 1993). Dimensions are defined as the distinct components of a ritual behaviour. Fiese and Kl ine (1993) studied the empirical work of Imber-Black (1988), Roberts (1988), Turner (1969) and Wol in and Bennett (1984) to identify the various dimensions of rituals. Five of the dimensions identified by Fiese and Kl ine (1993) are relevant to the study of couple relationships. The dimensions of couple rituals are: frequency, regularity, meaning, affect, and deliberateness. Frequency and regularity refer to how often the ritual occurs. Regularity also refers to the patterned or customary characteristics of a ritual. The dimensions of meaning and affect refer to the symbolic significance and importance o f couple rituals. The final dimension of deliberateness refers to the planning and intentional enactment of couple rituals. Deliberateness helps distinguish rituals from routines. Routines occur out o f habit, whereas rituals are deliberate, intentional, and chosen behaviours. Summary Rituals serve positive functions in close relationships (Berg-Cross et al., 1993; Braithwaite & Baxter, 1995; Bruess & Pearson, 1997; Cheal, 1988; Fiese et al., 1993; Wol in & Bennett, 1984). Rituals increase marital satisfaction, promote family stability, and contribute to a shared identity. Celebrations, traditions, and interaction rituals provide a generalized typology of rituals. These ritual types vary in terms of their frequency and meaning for the couple. Interaction rituals occur most frequently and are the most couple-specific ritual type. They reinforce couple culture on a regular or daily basis. Interaction rituals are the focus for this study. 13 Ritual studies have thus far focused on marital and family relationships. The lack of studies examining rituals in premarital relationships presents a void in current research. Although researchers have linked rituals to positive relationship behaviours, rituals have yet to be examined in connection with commitment. Examining the association of rituals and commitment in the context of premarital relationships can extend the existing literature. 14 C H A P T E R 3 C O N C E P T U A L M O D E L Most people experience one or more intimate relationships during their lifetime. Whether the relationship is with a dating partner and lasts for two weeks, or a married partner and lasts five decades, most people consider themselves committed to an intimate partner at some point. The investment model Rusbult (1983) developed the investment model to explain commitment. The investment model was developed from research on premarital relationships. It provides a practical, theory-based explanation of commitment. The model assesses relationship satisfaction, relationship alternatives, and invested resources to predict commitment. The investment model has been used by researchers to predict commitment, and to explain how commitment relates to behaviors such as relationship sacrifice and rejection of alternative partners (Rusbult et al., 1999). The investment model can be considered in the context of John and Mary. The relationship of John and Mary is relatively happy. Because they have been involved in a happy relationship for over a year, most people would reason that Mary and John are committed to maintaining their partnership. This couple has learned what is important for keeping their partner satisfied. Yet, satisfaction is not the only factor keeping their relationship intact. Investments such as time, energy, and relationships with mutual friends could be impacted adversely i f John and Mary were to separate. Even i f they were to risk losing these investments, they have no guarantee of finding a quality alternative partner. Therefore, John and Mary have three primary factors contributing to their commitment. They are satisfied with their relationship, they do not perceive better alternatives, and they have invested resources, which could be lost i f the relationship ended. 15 The investment model is based on interdependence theory (Kelley & Thibaut, 1978; Thibaut & Kelley, 1959). Interdependence is an extension of social exchange theory that focuses on the interconnected nature of human relationships. Interdependence means that partners influence each other's experiences and need one another in order to obtain rewarding outcomes (Rusbult & Buunk, 1993; Thibaut & Kelley, 1959). Individuals seek to maximize rewards and minimize costs in their relationships. Rewards refer to the benefits obtained from a relationship that provide satisfaction and enjoyment. Costs refer to expenditures or rewards that are unavailable due to one's involvement in a relationship. A profitable relationship is one in which the rewards exceed the costs. If an individual is responsible for the rewarding outcomes experienced by their partner, their partner w i l l l ikely feel dependent on them. If both partners are responsible for the rewarding outcomes experienced by the other, a state of mutual dependency or interdependency exists. Consider the example of John and Mary who each have expectations of the rewards their relationship should provide. John places importance on being able to confide in his girlfriend Mary. Mary places importance on attending social events and family functions with John. Although John has close relationships with his family and friends, he prefers to confide in his girlfriend Mary. John feels as though Mary understands his perspective better than anyone else and he trusts her advice. And although Mary could attend events with a close friend or family member, she feels confident and proud to be with John. John and Mary rely on one another to obtain profitable outcomes. They both agree that the rewards of their relationship far exceed the costs. Since John and Mary have never been intimately involved with another person, neither one has a prior relationship with which to compare. They can only base their evaluations on the close relationships of their friends and family. Both John and Mary perceive their relationship as superior compared to other couples they know. They have no reason to believe that better rewards are available elsewhere. 16 Profit levels are associated with both relationship satisfaction and decisions to seek out alternatives. Individuals who are involved in a profitable relationship are generally satisfied. They are also less likely to seek alternative partners. Interdependence theory predicts that highly satisfied individuals, with low quality alternatives w i l l be more dependent on their relationship than individuals with low satisfaction and many quality alternatives (Kelley & Thibaut, 1978; Rusbult etal., 1998). The investment model furthers interdependence theory. The investment model asserts that dependence is not only influenced by satisfaction and alternatives, but is also influenced by relationship investments. The model claims that dependence can be evaluated by considering the additive value of satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size, and claims that commitment is a direct result of high dependence levels (Rusbult, 1983; Rusbult et al., 1998). Accordingly, a highly committed individual w i l l perceive high levels of satisfaction and investments, and low quality alternatives to the relationship. Commitment. According to the investment model, commitment is defined as a cognitive state identified by feelings of dependence (Rusbult, 1991). Dependence refers to one's reliance on their partner for rewarding outcomes. If a person perceives that their partner can provide relationship rewards better than any alternative partner, they wi l l l ikely feel dependent on their relationship. Commitment develops from an ongoing state of dependence. It is not related to personal dispositions such as being kind-natured or mean-tempered, because it emerges as a result of being in a relationship (Rusbult, 1991; Rusbult et al., 1999). Satisfaction level. Satisfaction level refers to feelings of happiness and fulfillment from a relationship. It is a direct reflection of an individual's relationship profits (Rusbult et al., 1998). Individuals w i l l l ikely feel satisfied i f their partner is able to fulf i l l their important needs. Relationship needs are subjectively evaluated and vary depending on the person. For example, one person might consider sexual satisfaction to be important in maintaining happiness and 17 fulfillment. Another person might place high importance on financial security and desire monetary resources from their partner. A person determines their relationship expectations through comparisons with other relationships, including one's prior involvements and involvements of peers. Satisfaction should be high among those who perceive their profit level to be better than others' in similar relationships. Therefore, an individual who obtains high profit from their relationship and has a low comparison level w i l l l ikely feel satisfied (Nye, 1979; Rusbult etal., 1998). Comparison level (CL) is a concept used to evaluate relationship satisfaction based on profit. Individuals compare their profit to what they expect to obtain (based on prior relationship outcomes), and to the profit of other people in similar relationships (social comparison) (Nye, 1979; Thibaut & Kelley, 1959). Therefore, those who incurred high profit in their previous relationships, and who are aware of others who also obtain high profit from their relationships, should have a high comparison level and should be harder to satisfy. Individuals who have been involved in few profitable relationships, and who are unaware of others in profitable relationships, should have a low comparison level and be easier to satisfy. Individuals are predicted to feel satisfied i f they obtain relationship outcomes (i.e., profit) that fall at or above their CL . When the outcomes of a given relationship fall below the CL , individuals wi l l feel unsatisfied and wi l l likely seek out alternatives. Quality of alternatives. Comparison level for alternatives (CL-alt) is a standard used to evaluate other relationship options. CL-alt involves a comparison of the profit obtained from one's current relationship to the perceived profit available from alternative relationships (Nye, 1979; Rusbult & Buunk, 1993; Thibaut & Kelley, 1959). If profit in the current relationship is high, the individual is more likely to remain with their partner. If, however, the individual perceives there to be a more profitable alternative available, he or she wi l l leave their current partner to seek out a partner who can provide the most profit. When few profitable alternatives 18 are available, one wi l l be more dependent on their current relationship for rewarding outcomes. Commitment is generally higher for individuals who perceive few quality alternatives. Quality of alternatives is defined as the perceived desirability of available alternatives to a relationship. Alternatives must be both desirable and available to be considered a relationship threat (Levinger, 1999; Rusbult et al., 1998). Desirable alternatives are those who individuals find attractive, and who are perceived as being able to fulf i l l important relationship needs. Available alternatives do not necessarily refer to other intimate partners. Examples of alternatives could include relationships with family and friends, or being alone without any partnership (i.e., non-involvement). Investment size. Investment size refers to the amount of irretrievable resources put into a relationship. Investments often bind a person to their relationship due to their depth and significance (Rusbult & Buunk, 1993). This point can be illustrated with John and Mary. Mutual friends can be considered meaningful and significant investments to John and Mary's relationship. John and Mary have come to know and spend time with other couples. Relationships with these mutual friends could be lost i f the couple were to separate. People who have spent time with John and Mary as a couple may serve as investments that hold their relationship together. Even i f John and Mary's relationship satisfaction was low, and i f they had other quality alternatives, their mutual acquaintances could contribute to John and Mary's relationship commitment. Relationship investments come in many forms. Investments can include intrinsic, extrinsic, tangible, or intangible resources (Le & Agnew, 2003). Intrinsic investments refer to personal expenditures such as time, intimate disclosures, and linking ones personal identity to a relationship. Extrinsic resources, such as being part of a social network or holding a position of status, also contribute to relationship investments. Examples of this are individuals who become attached to their partner's family, or who consider their status as linked to their partner's social 19 position. Tangible investments include concrete objects such as sharing a house or car. Intangible resources encompass non-material aspects of a relationship such as being welcomed into a partner's family circle and sharing special experiences together. Investments strengthen commitment because they increase the personal costs of terminating a relationship (Le & Agnew, 2003). Summary Commitment is defined as a cognitive state, characterized by high levels o f dependence on a relationship. Commitment emerges as a result of prolonged relationship dependence and is unrelated to personal dispositions. Commitment can be predicted from considering the collective influence of satisfaction, alternatives, and investments. Anyone can develop commitment, provided that satisfaction and investments are high, and quality of alternatives are low. Hypotheses Commitment is important in close relationships. Commitment is associated with high relationship satisfaction and investment size, and low quality alternatives (Rusbult et al., 1998). The variables of satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size are also associated with couple rituals. Empirical research has already verified that high satisfaction level, low quality alternatives, and high investment size predict commitment (see Rusbult et al., 1998). This study examines whether rituals contribute unique predictive ability towards commitment in close relationships. The links between rituals and commitment provide the basis for the hypotheses in this study. The proposed relationship of rituals to the investment model is illustrated in Figure 1. 20 Rituals F igure 1. Proposed Relationship of Rituals to the Investment Model Hypothesis I: Satisfaction level and investment size are positively associated with commitment and quality of alternatives are negatively associated with commitment. Several empirical studies have demonstrated that high relationship satisfaction and investments, and low quality alternatives predict commitment (Agnew et al., 1998; Johnson & Rusbult, 1989; Le & Agnew, 2003; Rusbult, 1983; Rusbult et al., 1991; Rusbult et al., 1998). Hypothesis II: Rituals are positively associated with satisfaction level. O f the three ritual types, individuals spend the most amount of time engaging in interaction rituals. Interaction rituals have been shown to enhance marital satisfaction, especially among individuals who report frequent and meaningful enactment. Berg-Cross et al. (1992) found that marital satisfaction was higher for couples that reported frequent ritual enactment. Fiese et al. (1993) found that meaningful rituals were associated with marital satisfaction. Marini (1976) has also shown that marital satisfaction is higher for couples who spend greater amounts of time together and who engage in many pleasurable activities. Studies have yet to consider rituals and satisfaction in premarital relationships. However, studies on marital relationships support the proposition that similar results w i l l be obtained for a premarital sample. Hypothesis III: Rituals are negatively associated with quality of alternatives. Rituals can be theoretically and empirically linked to quality of alternatives. Interaction rituals help 21 strengthen couple culture (Berger & Kellner, 1984; Doherty, 2001). When couple culture is strong, individuals might devalue alternatives that are less knowledgeable about satisfying specific relationship needs. For example, in John and Mary's relationship, Mary obtains financial rewards from John. John is aware that Mary prefers to have him pay for relationship expenses. He also knows that kissing Mary on the nose wi l l make her smile. The couple culture created by interaction rituals is rewarding to the partners because it is derived from their unique preferences. Alternative partners, who are less informed about relationship preferences and who offer uncertain relationship rewards, wi l l be evaluated as less desirable (Kelley, 1983; Nye, 1979; Johnson & Rusbult, 1989). Interaction rituals deter potential alternatives. Partners who engage in interaction rituals in the presence of other people wi l l present their relationship as less permeable to alternative partners. Alternative partners are less likely to proposition a committed individual i f they perceive the couple relationship to be strong. Therefore, partners who publicly engage in rituals could decrease their chances of being approached by available alternatives (Fiese et al., 1993). Hypothesis IV: Rituals are positively associated with investment size. Researchers have demonstrated an association between joint activities and relationship investments. Interaction rituals are meaningful, joint activities that occur on a regular basis. Couples who engage in many joint activities are significantly more likely to remain intact over the long-term (Johnson & Rusbult, 1989; Lund, 1985). This finding may be related to the amount of time spent in daily interactions, and the connection of invested time to relationship commitment. The time spent in ritual activity is considered an irretrievable resource because one cannot regain their invested time (Rusbult et al., 1998). Therefore, the more time an individual spends in interaction rituals with their partner, the more invested and committed they are likely to be. Interaction rituals also contribute to emotional investments. Interaction rituals involve the intimate and private sharing of information, which can help solidify couple culture (Berg-22 Cross et al., 1992; Berger & Kellner, 1984). For example, showing affection with hugs and kisses, or sharing secrets with one's partner could be considered emotional investments. Verbal expressions and personal idioms also help couples construct and maintain their emotional connection (Baxter, 1990). The more frequent and meaningful these interactions are, the stronger the couple culture w i l l be. Thus, emotional investments are irretrievable resources that can prove costly in the event of relationship dissolution. Hypothesis V: Rituals are positively associated with commitment level. If rituals are not associated to commitment v ia the investment model, rituals may still relate to commitment directly. Rituals are related to stability and maintenance of close relationships (Bruess & Pearson, 1997; Fiese et al., 1993; Wol in & Bennett, 1984). Stability and relationship maintenance are similar to commitment. These findings provide support for the hypothesis that rituals relate to commitment in close relationships. Hypothesis VI: Rituals explain an additional proportion of the variance in commitment level, beyond the investment model predictors of satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size. This hypothesis is likely to be supported i f hypotheses one and five are supported. Hypothesis V I states that rituals contribute unique predictive ability to commitment, beyond what the investment model variables of satisfaction, alternatives, and investments already predict. The addition of rituals to the investment model wi l l account for a proportion of the otherwise unexplained variance in commitment. The overall ability of the investment model variables to predict commitment should therefore increase when considering the effects of rituals. 23 C H A P T E R 4 M E T H O D O L O G Y Participant Requirements The target population consisted of university students who were in a premarital relationship. Ethical guidelines required that participants under the age of 19 have their parents complete a consent form. In an effort to comply with ethical guidelines, this study excluded individuals under the age of nineteen. Students who met these criteria were invited to participate. Consent was assumed from students who completed and returned a questionnaire. Data Collection Procedure Respondents were recruited from undergraduate classes at the University of British Columbia. The data were collected during the May/June 2003 summer session. Faculty members from the biology, family studies, math, and physics programs were contacted for permission to distribute questionnaires at the start of their classes. The researcher attended one biology class, three family studies classes, one math class, and two physics classes. Students were informed by the researcher about the purpose and criteria for participation before distribution of the questionnaires. Students were also informed that participation was voluntary and that their survey responses would be kept confidential. Students who chose to participate in the study took and completed a questionnaire (Appendix A) . The completed questionnaires were picked up in the next class period. A total of 228 questionnaires were distributed. One hundred and nine surveys were returned for a response rate 48%. However, eight of the questionnaires were returned incomplete and thus were eliminated from the analysis. The remaining 101 surveys were used for analysis. Measures This study consisted of four independent variables and one dependent variable. The independent variables were rituals, satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size. 24 The dependent variable was commitment. Rituals were measured using a new scale, designed specifically for this study. Although other measures of family rituals exist, no previous measures of couple rituals were found. The variables of satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, investment size, and commitment were assessed using the Investment Model Scale (IMS). Premarital Rituals Scale. A Premarital Rituals Scale was designed to assess rituals in premarital relationships. The scale was based on previous research on marital and family rituals. The Premarital Rituals Scale consisted of 45 items divided into nine subscales, with five items in each subscale. Each of the nine subscales measured a different type of couple ritual. The types of couple rituals were based on Bruess and Pearson's (1997) inductive research which investigated rituals in marital relationships. Nearly 100 couples provided interview and open-ended questionnaire data for their study. The researchers identified 12 types of marital rituals from the data. O f the twelve ritual types, the nine most common types were: leisure activities (23%), intimacy expressions (12%), couple time rituals/togetherness (12%), communication rituals (8%), favorites (7%), private codes (6%), roles and patterns (6%), escape episodes (5%), and play rituals (4%). The nine most common ritual types were interaction rituals whereas the remaining three groups were traditions or celebrations. Table 1 provides a list and definition for each ritual type. These ritual types provided the content for building the subscales used in this study's premarital rituals scale (see Appendix A) . 25 Table 1. Ritual Types for the Premarital Rituals Scale (Bruess & Pearson, 1997) Ritual type Definition Leisure rituals Intimacy rituals Couple time rituals Communication rituals Favorites Private codes rituals Roles and patterns Escape rituals Play rituals Enjoyable activities that are enacted with an intimate partner. Examples include going to the movies, socializing, or going for a hike or a jog. Verbal and physical expressions of love and affection. Examples include saying "I love you", hugging, kissing, or giving compliments. Time spent together as a couple, irrespective of the activity involved. For example, a couple may spend every Saturday night together engaging in different activities each time. Time set aside for couple communication. The couple may interact in person, over the phone, or by email. Enacting the couple's most preferred activities. Examples include visiting a couple's favorite restaurant, purchasing favorite gifts, or watching a favorite television show together. Using words, phrases, gestures, or jokes that carry unique and special meaning for the couple. Predictable styles of interacting that are unique to the couple. For example, a couple may have particular ways of resolving conflict. Time spent away from the couple's everyday environment. Examples include going for long drives or taking vacations. Having fun together as a couple. Examples include acting silly, playing games, and laughing with one another. The five items in each ritual subscale were modeled after Fiese and Kl ine 's (1993) Family Rituals Questionnaire (FRQ). Fiese and Kl ine identified eight dimensions that were relevant to family rituals. Ritual dimensions referred to the independent components of ritual enactment. The eight dimensions of family rituals were: frequency, roles, repetitiveness, attendance, affect, meaning, continuation, and deliberateness. Table 2 provides a list and 26 definition of the family ritual dimensions. Five of the family ritual dimensions were relevant to couple rituals. The dimensions of frequency, repetitiveness, affect, meaning, and deliberateness were relevant to couple rituals and were used to construct items for the new rituals measure. The Premarital Rituals Scale consisted of five items in each subscale designed to measure a different dimension of couple rituals. The dimensions of roles, attendance, or continuation were not included in each subscale. The dimension of roles was not used because the subscale of "Roles and patterns" already assesses this dimension of couple rituals. The dimension of attendance was not used because attendance is assumed for couple rituals. Couple rituals can only be enacted i f both couple members are present. Attendance pertains to rituals that require more than two participants for enactment (Fiese & Kl ine, 1993). The final dimension of continuation was not used for the new rituals measure because it pertains to tradition or celebration type rituals. The focus for the current study is on interaction rituals, which occur on a daily or weekly basis. The dimension of continuation pertains to rituals that are enacted over the long-term. Table 2. Ritual Dimensions (Fiese & Kl ine, 1993) Ritual dimension Definition Frequency How often the ritual occurs Roles The roles and duties assigned to each person for the ritual Repetitiveness Regularity in how the ritual is enacted Attendance Expectations about who is supposed to attend the ritual Affect Emotional investment in the ritual Meaning Attachment of meaning to the ritual Continuation Perseverance of the ritual across generations Deliberateness Advance preparation and planning associated with the ritual 27 The format for the Premarital Rituals Scale was modeled after Fiese and Kl ine's (1993) FRQ. The FRQ consisted of 56-items. For each item, respondents were asked to make a "forced-choice" decision between two statements. The statements represented opposite perspectives of family ritual functioning. Respondents selected the response which best described their family patterns. Upon choosing the most representative statement, respondents were asked to decide i f the phrase was "really true" or "sort of true" for their family (Fiese & Kline, 1993). The forced-choice method was used to reduce responses based on social desirability. Some changes were made to the FRQ format for this study. Each item of the FRQ consisted of two phrases separated by the word "but". The measure used in this study separated each phrase with the word "or" instead of "but" (see Appendix A) . This change helped clarify to respondents that only one phrase should be chosen for each item. The second change was related to the number of scale items. The revised rituals measure consisted of 45 items, instead of the FRQ ' s original fifty-six. The number of items was reduced because only five of the FRQ 's eight family ritual dimensions are relevant to couple rituals. Investment Model Scale. The Investment Model Scale (IMS) is designed to measure commitment, and three commitment predictor variables of satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size (Rusbult et al., 1998). The IMS is a self-report questionnaire consisting of four subscales (see Appendix A) . The commitment subscale consists o f seven items. The subscales of satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size each consist often items, five of which are facet items and five of which are global items. The facet items are used to increase reliability o f the global items. The facet items are not statistically analyzed, but are included to facilitate the respondent's comprehension of global items. Rusbult et al. (1998) suggested administering the IMS with both facet and global items, and incorporating only the global items into analysis. Accordingly, the IMS was administered in the current study 28. as a 36-item scale, but only the 22 global items were used for statistical analysis (7 for commitment and 5 for each of the three predictor variables). Three studies were conducted by Rusbult et al. (1998) to refine the IMS and test for validity and reliability. The studies were based on undergraduate students in dating relationships at an American university. The average age of participants across the three studies was 19-19.5 years, and the average relationship duration was 18 months. Participants recorded item responses using a 9-point Likert scale, with options varying from (0) "do not agree at a l l " to (8) "agree completely". The IMS demonstrated good internal properties. Factor analyses revealed that each subscale measured a single underlying construct. Items for each subscale loaded on one factor, with coefficients above .40, and there were no significant cross-factor loadings. The IMS variables associated in predicted directions: commitment level was significantly positively correlated with satisfaction level, negatively correlated to quality of alternatives, and positively correlated with investment size. Regression analyses across the three studies showed that each subscale accounted for unique variance, and that satisfaction level, quality o f alternatives, and investment size collectively predicted commitment level (r-squared scores ranged from .69 to •77). IMS items were modified by Rusbult et al. (1998) in studies 2 and 3 to produce the most reliable measure. Reliability analyses across the three studies revealed high alpha coefficients: commitment level scores ranged from .91 to .95; satisfaction level scores ranged from .92 to .95; quality of alternatives ranged from .82 to .88; and investment size ranged from .82 to .84. These alpha levels were high, considering that scores above .70 are considered satisfactory. Two types of construct validity, convergent and discriminant were both assessed in IMS testing. Items for each construct were derived from social exchange and interdependence theories and from previous investment model research (Rusbult, 1983; Drigotas & Rusbult, 29 1992). In study two, experimenters had participants respond to 12 additional instruments, six o f which pertained to attributes of ongoing relationships, and six of which assessed personal dispositions. The IMS correlated with existing measures of ongoing relationships as expected: 97/108 analyses demonstrated significant associations of IMS variables with items from measures such as the Dyadic Adjustment Scale and the Relationship Closeness Inventory. For discriminant validity, IMS variables were expected to show weak associations with personal dispositions. The scale is based on interdependence theory, which recognizes commitment as an emergent quality of ongoing relationships, not a personal disposition. As expected, the IMS subscales showed weak associations to dispositions such as the need for cognition, affiliation, and self-esteem. Predictive validity was assessed by Rusbult et al. (1998) in study 3 using Time 2 follow-up interviews. Interviews were conducted over the telephone 2 to 5 months after the Time 1 data collection. Relationships that were still intact at the Time 2 follow-up exhibited higher satisfaction level and investment size, and lower quality of alternatives in their Time one scores. Commitment level was shown to be the most powerful predictor of relationship status at Time 2. Relationships that had ended by Time 2 exhibited much lower Time 1 commitment scores. External validity was assessed from several studies that employed the IMS in measurement (Arriaga & Agnew; 2001; Floyd & Wasner, 1994; Le & Agnew, 2003, Lund, 1985; Michaels, Acock, & Edwards, 1986; Rusbult, 1983; Rusbult et al., 1998). The studies conducted by Rusbult primarily used undergraduate samples, which provided a commitment assessment for individuals in premarital relationships. However, similar findings have also been found for individuals in marital relationships, and in cultures outside of North America (i.e., the Netherlands and Taiwan). The investment model is predictive o f commitment for individuals o f varying ethnicities, sexual orientations, and for both men and women. 30 Scale Analyses. The Premarital Rituals Scale and the IMS were tested for validity and reliability. The Premarital Rituals Scale was assessed initially for validity. Two rituals measures were used in the study (see Appendix A). Respondents were given the following information: "Couple rituals are defined as repeated behaviours that have positive meaning for the couple". Respondents were then asked the question: "To what extent do you have rituals in your relationship?" The question was posed at the beginning of the survey, before respondents had been provided with examples of couple rituals. Participants were asked to respond using a Likert scale ranging from (0) "not at a l l " to (6) "completely". This question was included as a validity test for the Premarital Rituals Scale. The 45-item Premarital Rituals Scale assessed a broader range of couple rituals. Pearson's correlation coefficient was computed between the initial question concerning rituals and the Premarital Rituals Scale. Results indicated that the two measures were significantly correlated at the .01 level (r = .50, p = .000). The significant association demonstrated that the measures assessed the same underlying construct. Individuals who scored high on the initial question were also likely to score high on the Premarital Rituals Scale. The IMS and the Premarital Rituals Scale were tested for reliability. Cronbach's alpha scores were computed to examine the internal consistency of the two measures. Four subscales were tested for the IMS and nine subscales were tested for the rituals measure. Cronbach alpha scores for the IMS were high and ranged from .86 (for investment size) to .98 (for satisfaction level). These results are comparable to the alphas obtained by Rusbult et al. (1998). Across three studies, Rusbult et al.'s alpha scores ranged from .91 to .95 for commitment; .92 to .95 for satisfaction level; .82 to .88 for quality o f alternatives; and .82 to .84 for investment size. Cronbach alpha scores for the rituals scale ranged from .48 (for intimacy rituals) to .80 (for private codes rituals). 31 Internal consistency is generally accepted as good for scales with Cronbach's alpha scores above .70. Five of the nine rituals subscales produced scores below .70, but most alpha scores were close to the desired value of .70. The alpha for intimacy rituals was considerably lower than the other subscales. The low alpha may be attributed to the wording of each phrase designed to measure the deliberateness dimension of rituals. In other words, intimacy rituals are perhaps less "planned for in advance" compared to other couple rituals. Intimacy rituals that are planned for in advance may be less meaningful than spontaneous intimate interactions. This offers some explanation as to why intimacy rituals produced the lowest alpha score. The intimacy items wi l l be used with caution in this study and w i l l l ikely need revising for future studies. Results for the reliability analyses are shown in Table 3. Table 3. Cronbach's A lpha Scores for the IMS and Rituals Scale Subscale a Rituals scale Leisure rituals .74 Intimacy rituals .48 Couple time rituals .69 Communication rituals .68 Favorites rituals .78 Private codes rituals .80 Roles and patterns rituals .72 Escape rituals .68 Play rituals .67 IMS Satisfaction level .98 Quality of alternatives .90 Investment size .86 Commitment level .92 32 The associations between the nine rituals subscales were examined. A correlation matrix was used to determine whether a composite rituals score should be used in hypothesis testing. Results indicated that the nine rituals subscales correlated with each other. A l l o f the correlations were significant. A composite score using all the rituals subscales was therefore used for testing the hypotheses. The results are presented in Table 4. Table 4. Correlation Matrix for the Nine Rituals Subscales L E I SURE INT CT C O M M F A V PC R & P E S C P L A Y , Leisure 1.00 .56** .70** .55** .62** .45** .42** .54** .52** Intimacy 1.00 .60** .50** 4 9 * * 4 4 * * .51** .26** 4 7 * * Couple time 1.00 .69** .57** .46** .46** .42** .61** Communication 1.00 .45** .51** .46** .37** .53** Favorites 1.00 .60** 4 7 * * .52** .52** Private Codes 1.00 .36** .35** .42** Roles & Patterns 1.00 4 1 ** .48** Escape 1.00 .35** Play 1.00 **/?<0.01 Demographic Variables. Some personal information was collected from each respondent. Six questions were included in the study to help better understand the sample's characteristics. Respondents were asked to identify their sex by circling either male or female on the survey. Respondents were asked to indicate their age in years. Respondents were asked to identify their ethnic background by circling one of five options (e.g., European, First Nations, East Indian, Chinese, or Japanese) or a self-identified "other" category. Respondents were also asked to 33 identify their major field of study. The final 2 variables referred to relationship duration and relationship status. Participants recorded the duration of their relationships in months. They were also asked to indicate the status of their relationships by selecting one of four categories casual dating, exclusively dating, engaged, and cohabiting/common law. CHAPTER 5 RESULTS The results of this study offer unique insight into the role of couple rituals in premarital relationships. Data were obtained from a diverse sample of students. Participants completed a well-established commitment measure in conjunction with a newly devised rituals scale. A n examination into the effects of rituals on commitment produced findings that were both anticipated and surprising. Sample Description The majority o f the sample (73%) was female. The preponderance of females was not surprising given the fact that four of the seven classes that were approached for the study had predominantly female students. The math and physics classes had more males than females, yet more females than males completed surveys in those classes. Participants were demographically diverse. The average age of respondents was 22 years, with a standard deviation of 2.7 years. The youngest participant was 19 years old and the oldest participant was 33. A s shown in Table 5, participants were representative of a variety of ethnic backgrounds. However, the majority o f respondents were o f either European (47%) or Chinese (22%) descent. Participants were distributed across eight faculties, with six students reporting that they had not decided their major or faculty of study. However, most students were in either the Arts (40%) or Sciences (24%) programs. Table 6 identifies the ful l range o f students by faculty. 35 Table 5. Distribution of Respondents by Ethnicity Ethnicity % European 47% Chinese 22% Canadian 8% East Indian 5% African-Canadian 3% Filipino 3% Japanese 3% American 2% First Nations 2% Korean 2% Middle Eastern 2% Vietnamese 1% Total 100% Table 6. Distribution of Respondents by Faculty Faculty % Arts 40% Science 24% Applied Science 8% Commerce 7% Education 5% Medicine 5% Graduate Studies 4% Pharmaceutical Studies 1% Undecided 6% Total 100% A l l participants were involved in premarital relationships. Seventy students (69%) classified their relationship as "exclusively dating". Fourteen students (14%) were "cohabiting", nine students (9%) were "casually dating", and eight students (8%) were "engaged". Participants were also asked to identify the duration of their relationships in months. Responses ranged from a minimum of one month (three students) to a maximum of 108 months (one student), with an 36 average relationship duration of 22.5 months long. Univariate Distributions The distribution of the independent and dependent variables were checked prior to hypotheses testing. The rituals scale consisted of 45 items, with 4 possible response options per item (see Appendix A) . Each item was coded using a 4-point scale, with one being the lowest rituals score and 4 being the highest score. Therefore, the range of each participant's summed rituals score was from 45 to 180. The mean rituals score for the sample was 128, with a standard deviation of 21.5, and a median of 129. The distribution was not significantly skewed (skewness = -.29; standard error of skewness = .24) and it approximated a normal distribution. The investment model variables were also tested for skewness. Satisfaction level, quality o f alternatives, and investment size were each measured using five items with response options ranging from 0 to 8. The possible summed range of scores was from 0 to 40 for each variable. The mean satisfaction level score was 32, with a standard deviation of 9.7, and a median of 35. The distribution was skewed (skewness = -1.8; standard error o f skewness = .24) and the distribution did not approximate a normal distribution. The mean quality of alternatives score was 14, with a standard deviation of 10, and a median of 13. The distribution was not significantly skewed (skewness = .70; standard error of skewness = .24) and approximated a normal distribution. The mean investment size score was 26.5, with a standard deviation of 9.2, and a median of 29. The distribution approximated a normal distribution (skewness = -.75; standard error of skewness = .24). The range of possible commitment level scores was from 0 to 56. The mean commitment level score was 44, with a standard deviation of 13.5, and a median of 48. The distribution was skewed (skewness = -1.39; standard error of skewness = .24). The distributions for satisfaction level and commitment level did not approximate a normal distribution. Therefore, it was important to examine the results o f previous investment model research to compare the variable distributions. A n item-by-item comparison was made between the variable distributions in this study and Rusbult et al.'s (1998) study. Mean scores and standard deviations were computed for each global investment model item. Results were compared to assess the differences in variable distributions for each study. The mean scores for satisfaction level were slightly lower in this study and had higher standard deviations. The mean scores for investment size and quality of alternatives were on average one whole number lower than Rusbult et al.'s (1998) findings. The dependent variable of commitment evidenced the most comparable distribution results. The mean and standard deviation scores for Commitment were nearly identical in both studies. The average mean difference for the seven commitment items was .41. The average difference in standard deviations was .23. In general, the variable distributions of this study were consistent with the findings of Rusbult et al. (1998). Results for the comparison analysis are shown in Table 7. 38 Table 7. Comparison of Means and Standard Deviations for the Investment Model Scale Items Rusbult etal. (1998) Present Study M SD M SD Satisfaction level global item 1 6.68 1.41 6.52 2.01 Satisfaction level global item 2 6.51 1.72 6.30 2.02 Satisfaction level global item 3 6.03 1.85 5.88 2.37 Satisfaction level global item 4 6.74 1.57 . 6.69 1.97 Satisfaction level global item 5 6.97 1.36 6.63 1.93 Investment level global iteml 6.08 2.07 6.18 2.02 Investment level global item 2 6.03 2.14 4.60 2.55 Investment level global item 3 6.42 1.94 6.37 1.90 Investment level global item 4 3.89 2.44 3.52 2.84 Investment level global item 5 3.02 2.60 5.79 2.16 Quality of Alternatives global item 1 4.17 2.50 2.48 2.30 Quality of Alternatives global item 2 3.95 2.42 2.63 2.44 Quality of Alternatives global item 3 4.52 2.41 3.94 2.39 Quality of Alternatives global item 4 3.94 2.59 2.92 2.58 Quality of Alternatives global item 5 3.14 2.40 2.37 2.51 Commitment level item 1 6.83 1.75 6.75 1.85 Commitment level item 2 6.75 1.89 6.80 2.02 Commitment level item 3 6.54 1.95 5.99 2.75 Commitment level item 4 5.09 2.86 6.04 2.62 Commitment level item 5 6.85 1.88 6.38 1.96 Commitment level item 6 5.68 2.65 5.96 2.51 Commitment level item 7 5.76 2.59 6.25 2.49 Hypothesis Testing Multiple regression analyses were used to test the hypotheses. Regression tests enable the researcher to examine the unique association between each independent variable and a dependent variable. There were several independent variables in hypomeses I and V I and it was necessary to examine the unique association of each variable, controlling for the other variables. Hypotheses II to V consisted of only one independent variable. Regression analyses were considered to be more appropriate than using bivariate correlations because regression analyses 39 provide information about both standardized and unstandardized coefficients. A significance level of p < .05 was set for all statistical tests. No control variables were used in the regression analyses. The decision for not using control variables was based on previous studies that found no significant differences in commitment for participants of varying ethnicities, age, or sex (Bruess & Pearson, 1997; Le & Agnew, 2003). However, regression analyses were used to examine the association between the control variables of ethnicity, age, and sex and the dependent variable of commitment. The regression analyses were used to determine i f demographic variables other than the independent variables were important in predicting commitment. Commitment was regressed on ethnicity, age, and sex. Ethnicity was analyzed by dividing the participants into two groups; one group included respondents of European descent, and the other group consisted of respondents who belong to an ethnic minority group. Results indicated that there were no significant differences in commitment for participants of varying ethnicity (P = .12; p = 22), age (P = .001; p = .99), or sex (p = -.04; p = 70). Hypothesis I: Satisfaction level and investment size are positively associated with commitment and quality of alternatives are negatively associated with commitment. A regression analysis was used to test whether the independent variables of satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size were associated with the dependent variable commitment. Results were consistent with the investment model predictions. Satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size were collectively predictive of commitment (R 2 = .767, adjusted R = .759; p_ = .000). Satisfaction level and investment size were positively related to commitment, and quality o f alternatives were negatively related to commitment. O f these three variables, satisfaction level was most highly associated with cornmitment A summary of this regression analysis is shown in Table 8. 40 Table 8. Summary of Multiple Regression Results for the Investment Model with Commitment as the Dependent Variable Independent variable B SE B P Satisfaction level .66 .09 .48** Investment size .40 .09 .27** Quality of alternatives -.38 .09 -.29** **/7 < 0.01 This study produced findings comparable to Rusbult et al.'s (1998) investment model findings. Rusbult et al. conducted three studies to evaluate the IMS properties. The R 2 across the three studies ranged from .69 to .77. Satisfaction level was positively related to commitment (standardized betas ranged from .47 to .69); investment size was positively related to commitment (standardized betas ranged from .19 to .27); and quality of alternatives were negatively related to commitment (standardized betas ranged from -.29 to -.32). The regression results of this study were similar to those found by Rusbult et al. (1998). Hypothesis II: Rituals are positively associated with satisfaction level. A regression analysis was used to test the association of rituals and satisfaction level. Satisfaction level was regressed on rituals. Results were consistent with the hypothesis prediction. Rituals were significantly associated with satisfaction level (see Table 9). The unstandardized beta coefficient was .27 and the standardized beta was .60 (p = .000). The R 2 was .36 and the adjusted R 2 was .35. A summary of these results is provided in Table 9. Hypothesis III: Rituals are negatively associated with quality of alternatives. A regression analysis was used to examine the association between rituals and quality of alternatives. Quality of alternatives was regressed on rituals. Results supported hypothesis III. Rituals were significantly negatively associated with quality o f alternatives (see Table 9). The unstandardized beta was -.24 and the standardized beta was -.50 (p = .000). The R 2 was .25 and 41 the adjusted R 2 was .24. A summary of this analysis is provided in Table 9. ; Hypothesis IV: Rituals are positively associated with investment size. A regression analysis was used to examine the association between rituals and investment size. Investment size was regressed on rituals. Results indicated a significant positive relationship between the two variables (see Table 9). The unstandardized beta coefficient was .20 and the standardized beta coefficient was .44 (p = .000). The R was .19 and the adjusted R was . 18. A summary of these regression results is shown in Table 9. Hypothesis V: Rituals are positively associated with commitment level. A regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between rituals and commitment. Commitment was regressed on rituals. A significant positive association was found between rituals and commitment (see Table 8). The unstandardized beta coefficient was .33 and the standardized 9 9 beta coefficient was .52 (p = .000). The R was .27 and the adjusted R was .26. A summary of these results is provided in Table 9. Table 9. Linear Regression Results for Rituals and the Investment Model Variables II III rv V (Satisfaction) (Alternatives) (Investments) (Commitment) B S E B p B S E B p B S E B p B S E B p .27 .04 .60** -.24 .04 -.50** .20 .04 .44** .33 .05 .52** **/7<0.01 Hypothesis VI: Rituals explain an additional proportion of the variance in commitment level, beyond the investment model predictors of satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size. A hierarchical regression was used to examine the unique roles of the investment model variables (i.e., satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size) and couple rituals for explaining commitment in premarital relationships (see Table 10). The investment model variables were entered in the first block of the regression equation with commitment as the dependent variable and satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size as the independent variables. Couple rituals were entered in the second block of the equation as an independent variable. This model replicated the role of investment model variables in understanding commitment, and then examined the unique effects of couple rituals for relationship commitment. Hypothesis V I was not supported in this study. Rituals did not explain an additional portion of the variance in commitment. The R 2 change from model 1 to model 2 was only .001 (p = .435). Also, rituals were not significantly associated with commitment in this analysis (p = -.05; p = .435). Although rituals demonstrated a significant association to commitment in hypothesis V , they were not significant when considered in connection with the investment model predictors. These results suggest that satisfaction level, alternatives, and investment size act as collective mediators in the relationship between rituals and commitment. That is, satisfaction, alternatives, and investments account for the relationship found between rituals and commitment. Results from this analysis are displayed in Table 10. A suggested mediated model is presented in Figure 2. Table 1 0 . Hierarchical Regression Results for Hypothesis V I with Commitment as the Dependent Variable Mode l 1 Mode l 2 Independent variables B S E B 3 B S E B 3 Satisfaction level .66 .09 .48** .70 .09 .50** Quality of alternatives -.38 .09 -.29** -.39 .09 • -.30** Investment size .40 .09 .27** .41 .09 .28** Rituals -.05 .04 -.03 R 2 ad j .759 .758 F for change in R 2 .000 .435 *p<0.05; ** E <0.01 43 Satisfaction level Rituals ^Commitment Figure 2. Revised Mediational Relationship of Rituals and the Investment Model Post Hoc Analysis A correlation matrix was computed to examine the grounds for a mediational model. The variables of satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, investment size, rituals, and commitment were entered into a bivariate correlation test. A l l of the correlations were significant. The results are presented in Table 11. Table 11. Pearson Correlation Coefficients for the Dependent and Independent Variables Rituals Satisfaction Investments Alternatives Commitment Rituals 1.00 .60** 44** -.50** .52** Satisfaction 1.00 .47** -.58** .78** Investments 1.00 -.59** .67** Alternatives 1.00 -.73** Commitment 1.00 **/7<0.01 The mediated model suggests that rituals are indirectly related to commitment through the mediators o f satisfaction level, quality o f alternatives, and investment size. Four conditions must be met to justify a mediational model (Baron & Kenny, 1986). First, the independent variable (rituals) must be significantly associated with the mediator variables (satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size). This condition was met as evidenced in the results for hypotheses II, III, and IV. The second condition requires that the independent variable (rituals) must be significantly associated with the dependent variable (commitment). This condition was satisfied as evidenced in the results for hypothesis V . Third, mediated models require that the mediators (satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size) are significantly associated with the dependent variable (commitment). This condition was supported in the results for hypothesis I. The final condition requires that the impact of the independent variable (rituals) on the dependent variable (commitment) is decreased after controlling for the mediators (satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size). This condition was evidenced in the results for hypothesis VI , which demonstrated that no significant association existed between rituals and commitment when considering the effects of satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size. 45 C H A P T E R 6 D I S C U S S I O N The purpose o f this research was to examine the association between couple rituals and commitment in premarital relationships. Couple rituals had not been explored in the context of premarital commitment prior to this study. The investment model (Rusbult et al., 1998) provided a framework to examine the effects of rituals on commitment. Previous studies on close relationships noted indirect links between rituals and the investment model components of satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, investment size, and commitment (Berg-Cross et al., 1992; Fiese et al., 1993; Johnson & Rusbult, 1989; Lund, 1985; Marini, 1976). However, these associations were based on studies of marital and family relationships and had not been directly explored in a premarital context. Results of this study demonstrated that rituals were not directly associated with commitment. Yet, rituals were shown to operate as indirect contributors of commitment in premarital relationships. A mediated model was suggested, which presented the investment model variables as mediators between rituals and commitment. Rituals contributed to commitment through satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size. The findings of this study supported Rusbult et al.'s (1998) investment model research. Comparisons were made between this study and Rusbult et al.'s (1998) study in terms of variable distributions, unique associations of each variable, and collective variance of the investment model towards commitment. Results were similar between the two studies for each of these analyses. It was not surprising that the current study produced results consistent with Rusbult et al.'s (1998) investigation because the investment model has been studied extensively in premarital dating samples. Results from this study confirmed that the participants were similar to other undergraduate samples in terms of their commitment characteristics. In this study, satisfaction level exhibited a stronger association to commitment than did investment size or 46 quality of alternatives. This finding concurred with previous studies of the investment model (Le & Agnew, 2003). Rituals were positively associated with satisfaction level. In comparison to the other investment model variables, rituals were most highly associated with satisfaction level. This finding was important because satisfaction also demonstrated the highest association to commitment when compared with the other investment model predictors. Rituals were therefore related to satisfaction in premarital relationships, and satisfaction level contributed significantly to commitment. Previous studies on rituals have clearly identified rituals as contributing to satisfaction for marital and family relationships (Berg-Cross et al., 1992; Fiese et al., 1993; Marini, 1976). Results from this study extended previous literature by demonstrating that rituals have the same role for premarital relationships. In terms of theory, this study supported the contention that rituals are associated with relationship rewards. Interdependence theory defines rewards as relationship benefits that provide satisfaction and enjoyment to the couple members (Rusbult & Buunk, 1993; Thibaut & Kelley, 1959). Individuals are predicted to feel satisfied when the rewards of a relationship exceed the costs. In addition, individuals who are reliant on their partner for rewarding outcomes, such as the satisfaction provided by couple rituals, become more dependent and committed to their relationship (Rusbult, 1991; Rusbult et al., 1998). The association found between rituals and satisfaction in this study underscore the theoretical importance of considering rituals as a relationship reward. Rituals were negatively associated with quality of alternatives. Individuals who scored high on rituals also reported having few attractive alternatives. No previous studies had examined the effects of rituals on quality of alternatives. Rituals were theoretically linked to quality of alternatives by considering the effects of couple culture on devaluing and deterring alternatives. The concept of devaluing alternatives is an internal or psychological concept, 47 whereas the concept oi deterring alternatives is an external concept that influences an individual's perception of their alternatives. For example, individuals with a strong couple culture were hypothesized to devalue alternative partners who might not offer comparable relationship rewards. Potential alternatives might also be less l ikely to arise when an individual appears to have a strong connection with their partner. Public rituals or rituals that are visible to others would increase an alternative's perception that the relationship is strong. Results of this study support the hypothesis that couple rituals are associated with having few attractive alternatives. Rituals were positively associated with investment size. Rituals associated less with investment size in comparison to the other investment model variables. There may be several explanations for this finding. For example, undergraduate students in dating relationships may have less invested in their partner given the brief period they have spent together as a couple. Students are perhaps less likely than older individuals to have complex ties formed between their dating partner and their family members. Students may be less l ikely to have invested large amounts of shared financial resources in their relationship. Students may also have other areas of life they are more invested in such as their schoolwork and family relationships (as many students often still l ive with their parents). Regardless of the potential explanations for this finding, rituals were still significantly related to investment size. Previous studies had indirectly linked rituals with relationship investments. Rituals were hypothesized to contribute to investment size in terms of time and emotional bonds. Couples that spend time in enjoyable shared activities, such as rituals, are more l ikely to remain intact over the long-term (Johnson & Rusbult, 1989; Lund, 1985). Rituals also help build and strengthen couple culture. Couple culture is related to a relationship's emotional investments (Baxter, 1990; Berg-Cross et a l , 1992; Berger & Kellner, 1984). Results o f this study supported the contention that rituals are positively associated with relationship investments. 48 Rituals were positively associated with commitment level. Previous studies had linked rituals to marital and family stability (Bruess & Pearson, 1997; Fiese et al., 1993; Wol in & Bennett, 1984). Based on the conceptual similarity of stability and commitment, it was hypothesized that rituals would relate comparably to commitment in premarital relationships. Results of this study supported the notion that rituals are positively related to commitment. However, the relationship between rituals and commitment was shown to be indirect when controlling for the effects of satisfaction level, quality o f alternatives, and investment size. It was hypothesized that rituals would contribute unique predictive ability to commitment, beyond the effects of the investment model variables. This hypothesis was not supported. Rituals operated via the investment model predictor variables to influence commitment in premarital relationships. Satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size were shown to act as mediators between rituals and commitment. While it was surprising to discover that the relationship between rituals and commitment was decreased significantly when considering the other predictors, this finding underscored the importance of studying variables that might precede the investment model. Variables that influence the investment model predictors, such as rituals, can consequently lead to commitment, although indirectly. It is well recognized in the commitment literature that satisfaction level, quality o f alternatives, and investment size account for the majority of variance in commitment. Future research can be less concerned with variables that contribute to commitment directly. The findings of this study highlight the need to examine variables that relate to predictors of commitment. In summary, this study extended current research by investigating the association between rituals and commitment in premarital relationships. Information about premarital relationships was previously absent in the rituals literature. This study found that rituals were directly related to satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size in premarital 49 relationships. It was through these variables that rituals influenced commitment. In this study, the investment model variables accounted for approximately 76% of the variance in commitment. This figure is comparable to previous investment model studies, which have generally found the model to account for two-thirds of the variance in commitment (Le & Agnew, 2003). It was originally hypothesized that rituals would account for an additional proportion of the variance in commitment. While rituals did not contribute unique variance to commitment, the association between rituals and the other investment model variables provided the impetus for future research in this area. 50 C H A P T E R 7 C O N C L U S I O N This research revealed the importance of rituals to premarital relationships. Couple rituals were shown to be powerful predictors of relationship satisfaction, quality of alternatives and investment size. The mediational relationship between rituals and commitment underscored the importance of studying variables that indirectly associate with commitment. Limitations of the study The data used in this study were based on self-report questionnaires. Responses based on social desirability are also a concern when administering self-report questionnaires. However, researchers have demonstrated strong associations between self-report measured commitment and future relationship persistence. The IMS is also associated with behavioral measures of commitment such as videotaped interactions and coded conversations (coding for the use of plural pronouns to describe one's relationship and tendencies to accommodate for one's partner). Self-report methods provide accurate assessments and are one of the only ways to capture subjective views of commitment (Rusbult et al., 1998). This study relied on a convenience sample of predominantly female undergraduate students. It is important to recognize that the researcher who approached potential participants was also female. The sex of the researcher may have influenced a student's decision to participate or their survey responses. For example, men may have felt less comfortable volunteering for the study and providing accounts of their intimate relationships to a female researcher. Individuals were asked to report on their couple relationships. The data are representative of only one partner's perception of the relationship. Although this study found no differences in the dependent variable based on sex, it is important to recognize that the majority o f respondents were female. Future studies wi l l need to investigate whether male partners 51 perceive their couple rituals differently than females. Future research must examine rituals and commitment in non-student samples. Although the participants were varied in terms of age, ethnicity, and relationship duration, the results may not be generalizable to all premarital relationships. Students spend much of their time at school and are often immersed in an environment consisting of other students. Individuals who belong to a less homogenous group may be different from students who share a similar lifestyle. Many studies that employed the investment model to study dating relationships also consisted of undergraduate student samples (Le & Agnew, 2003). The final limitation of this study is related to the Premarital Rituals Scale. The design and content of the scale was based on previous studies of marital and family rituals. No research on premarital rituals was found to aid in scale development. Although two studies examined marital rituals from a qualitative perspective (Berg-Cross et al., 1992; Bruess & Pearson, 1997), premarital rituals had yet to be investigated. Future research would help increase the scale's validity and reliability. The reliability of the intimate rituals subscale of the Premarital Rituals Scale was low. The low Cronbach's alpha may be related to the wording of items designed to measure the deliberateness dimension of rituals. Some couple rituals, such intimacy rituals, may not be "planned for in advance". The deliberateness dimension of intimacy rituals might have better been assessed by using phrases such as "In our relationship, we set aside time for intimacy rituals" or "In our relationship, we make a point of having intimacy rituals". Future studies w i l l certainly help refine the Premarital Rituals Scale. Implications for Future Research This research provided significant data on premarital couple rituals and their relationship with commitment. Rituals were associated with relationship satisfaction, quality of alternatives, and investment size. Future research w i l l need to examine the mechanisms through which rituals 52 influence these variables. For example, why are rituals more highly related to satisfaction level and less related to quality of alternatives and investment size? It is important to investigate why rituals influence certain investment model components more than others. Longitudinal studies wi l l help determine the causal relationship between rituals and the investment model variables. For example, do rituals lead to satisfaction, or does satisfaction lead to rituals? Perhaps a bi-directional relationship exists in which these variables influence each other. Longitudinal research is needed to clarify these issues. Future research wi l l need to consider variables that precede the investment model. This study contributed to theory by demonstrating that variables can indirectly relate to commitment through the investment model predictors. Rituals were associated with satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size. These variables mediated the effects of rituals on commitment. There may be other variables, aside from rituals, that indirectly influence commitment in premarital relationships. The results from this study offer insight into the role of rituals in premarital relationships. Couple rituals are significant predictors of relationship satisfaction, quality of alternatives, and investment size. Rituals influence commitment via the investment model variables. Future research can help couples determine which rituals to integrate into their relationship. For example, a couple may decide to incorporate more leisure rituals into their relationship i f they are aware that such activities increase satisfaction. A couple who is experiencing relationship problems could assess their level of commitment-related rituals. Couples could improve their chances of relationship endurance by understanding which ritual types influence commitment. This study provided foundational information about premarital rituals and offered exciting avenues for extending the literature on rituals in intimate relationships. 53 References Acitel l i , L. K., Rogers, S., & Knee, C. R. (1999). The role of identity in the link between relationship thinking and relationship satisfaction. 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Family rituals and the recurrence of alcoholism over generations. American Journal of Psychiatry, 136, 589-593. 60 P L E A S E DO N O T PUT Y O U R N A M E O N T H E QUEST IONNA IRE We would first like to ask some questions about you. 1. Are you (Circle one) Male Female 2. How old are you? years 3. Please indicate your ethnic background (Circle one) a) European d) Chinese b) First Nations e) Japanese c) East Indian f) Other: 4. What is your major? 5. How long have you been in your current relationship? months 6. How would you describe the status o f your relationship? (Circle one) a) casual dating c) engaged b) exclusively dating d) cohabiting/common law relationship Couple rituals are defined as repeated behaviours that have positive meaning for couple. 7. To what extent do you have rituals in your relationship? not at all somewhat completely 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 The following pages contain descriptions of couple rituals. In some relationships, rituals are very important, but in others there is a more casual attitude toward rituals. On each page you will find headings for couple rituals. Think of how your relationship typically functions. Read the two statements and choose the one that is most like your relationship. After choosing the statement that is most like your relationship, decide if the statement is really true or sort of true for your relationship. E X A M P L E : Circle ONE letter which best describes your current relationship. Really Sort of True True A B We regularly do house- OR We rarely do house-work together in our work together in our relationship. relationship. There are no right or wrong answers to each statement, so please try to choose the statement that most closely describes your relationship. Really True CD Sort of True D 63 LEISURE RITUALS Examples of leisure rituals could include going out for dinner, playing sports, going to the movies, going for walks, and participating in hobbies together. Instructions: Think of typical leisure or recreational ritual in your relationship. Circle ONE letter which best describes your current relationship. Really Sort of True True 1. A 2. A B B We regularly engage in OR leisure activities in our relationship. In our relationship OR everything about time is scheduled; leisure activities always occur at set times. We rarely engage in leisure activities in our relationship. In our relationship leisure activities are flexible. We take part them whenever we can. Really Sort of True True C D D 3. A B In our relationship, OR we feel strongly about engaging in leisure activities together. 4. A B In our relationship OR leisure activities have a special meaning. 5. A B In our relationship OR leisure activities are around leisure activities. In our relationship it is not that important i f we engage in leisure activities together. In our relationship leisure activities are just done to pass time. In our relationship there is little planning planned for in advance. D D D 64 INTIMACY RITUALS Examples of intimacy rituals could include snuggling, kissing, hugging, and expressing fondness or affection towards each other. Instructions: Think of a typical intimacy ritual in your relationship. Circle ONE letter which best describes your current relationship. Really Sort of True True 6. A B We rarely interact in an intimate way in our relationship OR We regularly interact in an intimate way in our relationship Really Sort of True True C D 7. A B In our relationship OR intimacy interactions are pretty set; we both know what to expect. 8. A B In our relationship OR we feel strongly about intimate interactions. 9. A B In our relationship OR intimate interactions are more than just a kiss or hug; they have special meaning. 10. A B In our relationship OR intimate activities are planned for in advance. In our relationship there are no set routines; intimacy expressions are different every time. In our relationship it is not that important i f we have intimate interactions. In our relationship intimate activities do not represent anything special. In our relationship there is little planning around intimate interactions. D D D D 65 COUPLE TIME RITUALS Couple time refers to time that you and your partner set aside for the sake of being together. The actual activities undertaken during this time are generally not important; you and your partner may choose to watch television, rest on the sofa, read a book, or anything that involves spending time together as a couple. Instructions: Think of a typical couple time ritual in your relationship. Circle ONE letter which best describes your current relationship. Really Sort of Really Sort of True True True True 11. A B We regularly spend time together in our relationship. OR We rarely spend time together in our relationship. C D 12. A B In our relationship, couple time is flexible; we have couple time whenever our schedules permit. O R In our relationship couple time is scheduled; there is always time set aside for being together. C D 13. A B We feel strongly about couple time in our relationship. OR In our relationship it is not that important i f we have couple time. C D 14. A B In our relationship couple time has a special meaning. OR In our relationship couple time is no different from other time. C D 15. A B In our relationship couple time is planned for in advance. OR In our relationship there is little planning around couple time. C D 66 COMMUNICATION RITUALS Communication rituals refer to times that you and your partner talk in person together or on the phone together. During this time you and your partner may share ideas, check in with one another, have a heart-to- heart conversation, plan your schedules, or have a general discussion. Instructions: Think of a typical communication ritual in your relationship. Circle ONE letter which best describes your current relationship. Really True Sort of True Really True Sort of True 16. A B We regularly set aside time to talk in our relationship. OR We rarely set aside time to talk in our relationship. C D 17. A B The conversations in our relationship are routine and occur in a similar way most o f the time. OR In our relationship conversations are always different; we never really know what to expect. C D 18. A B It is not that important i f we have time to talk in our relationship. OR We feel that having time to talk is very important in our relationship. C D 19. A B In our relationship conversations have special meaning. OR In our relationship talk is just for communication. C D 20. A B We purposely set aside time to talk OR In our relationship we talk whenever we C D in our relationship. can. 67 FAVORITES Examples of favorites could include visiting your favorite restaurant, watching your favorite television show, eating favorite foods, giving favorite gifts, playing your favorite sports, or engaging in whatever you and your partner have decided are your most favorite things to do. Instructions: Think of a typical ritual in your relationship that incorporates your couple favorites. Circle ONE letter which best describes your current relationship. Really Sort of True True Really Sort of True True 21. A B We have many OR couple favorites in our relationship. 22. A B The favorites in OR our relationship , rarely change. 23. A B It is very important OR to have couple favorites in our relationship. 24. A B The favorites in our OR relationship are not that special; there are no particular emotions attached to them. We have few couple favorites in our relationship. The favorites in our relationship are always changing. In our relationship it does not matter i f we have couple favorites. The favorites in our relationship have special meaning; we feel emotional when thinking about them. D D D D 25. A B We discuss favorites in our relationship and make a point of incorporating them into our time together. OR We do not discuss or plan favorites in our relationship. D 68 PRIVATE CODES Private codes refer to words, phrases, jokes, or gestures that you and your partner may have developed together. Private codes are not usually understood by people outside the/relationship because they have a private meaning for the couple. Examples of private codes could include using nicknames or repeating a phrase from a movie that you and your partner saw together. Instructions: Think o f some private codes used in your relationship. Circle ONE letter which best describes your current relationship. Really Sort of True True Really True Sort of True 26. A B We have many OR private codes in our relationship. 27. A B The private codes OR in our relationship rarely change. 28. A B Private codes are OR very important in our relationship. 29. A B The private codes OR in our relationship have special meaning. We have few private codes in our relationship. The private codes in our relationship are always changing. There is no great importance attached to private codes in our relationship. The private codes in our relationship are not that meaningful; there are no particular emotions attached to them. C D D D D 30. A B We do not make an effort to incorporate private codes into our relationship. OR We discuss our private codes and make a point of incorporating them into our relationship. C D 69 ROLES AND PATTERNS Roles and patterns refer to ways that you and your partner act with each other that may be different from the way you act with other people. For example, some couples have developed preferred styles of sitting together during a meal or while watching television. Other couples might have ways of resolving conflict or responding to common situations that is unique to their relationship. Instructions: Think of typical roles and patterns in your relationship. Circle ONE letter which best describes your current relationship. Really Sort of Really Sort of True True True True 31. A B We have few roles and patterns in our relationship. OR We have many roles and patterns in our relationship. C D 32. A B The roles and patterns in our relationship rarely change. OR In our relationship, roles and patterns are always changing. C D 33. A B In our relationship it is important to have roles and patterns. OR In our relationship it does not really matter i f we have roles and patterns. C D 34. A B The roles and patterns in our relationship have special meaning. OR In our relationship roles and patterns are not that special or meaningful C D 35. A B We discuss our roles and patterns and make a point of incorporating them into the relationship. OR We do not make an effort to incorporate roles and patterns into our relationship. C D 70 ESCAPE RITUALS Escape rituals refer to time that you and your partner take to get away from everyday routines and pressures. During this time, some couples might go for a walk or hike, take a vacation, or spend the night in a hotel. Instructions: Think of a typical escape ritual in your relationship. Circle ONE letter which best describes your current relationship. Really Sort of Really Sort of True True True True 36. A B We always have escape rituals in our relationship. OR We rarely have escape rituals ;in our relationship. C D 37. A B The escape rituals in our relationship are always changing. OR In our relationship, escape rituals stay pretty much the same across time. C D 38. A B It is important to have escape rituals in our relationship. OR We do not care too much about escape rituals in our relationship. C D 39. A B The escape rituals in our relationship have special meaning and significance. OR The escape rituals in our relationship are no different from other time spent together. C D 40. A B We extensively plan and discuss our escape rituals. OR We do not plan or discuss escape rituals in our relationship. C D 71 P L A Y R I T U A L S Play rituals refer to the fun moments that couples share. Examples of play rituals include laughing, joking, acting silly, and playing games. Instructions: Think of a typical play ritual in your relationship. Circle ONE letter which best describes your current relationship. Really Sort of True True Really True Sort of True 41. A B We have many play rituals in our relationship. OR We have few play rituals in our relationship. D 42. A B The play rituals in our relationship are always the same; they do not change very often. OR The play rituals in our relationship are always different and changing. D 43. A B In our relationship it is not very important to have play rituals. OR In our relationship it is very important to have play rituals. C D 44. A B In our relationship, play rituals have special meaning and significance. O R In our relationship play rituals are not that meaningful or significant. D 45. A B We make a point of having play rituals in our relationship. OR We do not try to incorporate play rituals in our relationship. D 72 Please indicate the degree to which each of the following statements pertain to your current relationship (circle your answer for each item). Don't Agree at all Agree Somewhat Agree Completely la) M y partner fulfills my needs for intimacy (sharing personal thoughts, secrets, etc.). b) My partner fulfills my needs for companionship (doing things together, enjoying each others company etc.). c) M y partner fulfil ls my sexual needs (holding hands, kissing, etc.). d) M y partner fulfil ls my needs for security (feeling trusting, comfortable in a stable relationship, etc.). e) M y partner fulfil ls my needs for emotional involvement (feeling emotionally attached, feeling good when another feels good, etc). 2.1 feel satisfied with our relationship. 3. M y relationship is much better than others' relationships. 4. M y relationship is close to ideal. 5. Our relationship makes me very happy. 6. Our relationship does a good job of fulf i l l ing my needs for intimacy, companionship, etc. 7a) I invested a great deal of time into our relationship. b) I told my partner many private things about myself. (I disclose secrets to him/her). c) M y partner and I have an intellectual life together that would be difficult to replace. d) M y sense of personal identity (who I am) is linked to my partner and our relationship. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 73 7e) M y partner and I share many memories 8.1 put a great deal into our relationship that I would lose i f the relationship were to end. Don't Agree at all 0 1 0 1 Agree Somewhat Agree Completely 7 8 9. Many aspects o f my life have become linked to my partner (recreational activities, etc.), and I would lose all of this i f we were to break up. 10.1 feel very involved in our relationship — like I have put a great deal into it. 11. M y relationships with friends and family members would be complicated i f my partner and I were to break up (e.g., partner is friends with people I care about.). 12. Compared to other people, I know, I have invested a great deal in my relationship with my partner. 13.1 want our relationship to last for a very long time. 14.1 am committed to maintaining my relationship with my partner. 15.1 would not feel very upset i f our relationship were to end in the near future. 16. It is likely that I w i l l date someone other than my partner within the next year. 17.1 feel very attached to our relationship -very strongly linked to my partner. 18.1 want our relationship to last forever. 19.1 am oriented toward the long-term future of my relationship (for example, I imagine being with my partner several years from now). 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 74 Don't Agree Agree Agree at all Somewhat Completely 20a) M y needs for intimacy (sharing personal thoughts, secrets,etc.) could be fulfilled, in alternative relationships. 0 1 b) M y needs for companionship (doing things together, enjoying each other's company, etc.) could be fulfil led in alternative relationships. 0 1 c) M y sexual needs (holding hands, kissing, etc.) could be fulfi l led in alternative relationships. 0 1 d) M y needs for security (feeling trusting, comfortable in a stable (relationship, etc.) could be fulfilled in alternative relationships. 0 1 e) M y needs for emotional involvement (feeling emotionally attached, feeling good when another feels good, etc.) could be fulfi l led in alternative relationships. 0 1 21. The people other than my partner with whom I might become involved are very appealing. 0 1 22. M y alternatives to our relationship are close to ideal (dating another, spending time with friends or on my own, etc.). 0 1 23. If I weren't dating my partner I would do fine. I would find another appealing person to date. 0 1 24. M y alternatives are attractive to me (dating another spending time with friends or on my own, etc.). 0 1 25. M y needs for intimacy, companionship etc., could easily be fulfi l led in an alternative relationship. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 75 

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