Monday, July 9, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 151


Study disillusions romantics

By Melissa Kummer
Daily Cougar Staff

A research team from UHis psychology department has published a study that indicates "love at first sight" may not lead to as many successful
relationships as some believe.

The results of the study, published in the July issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, examined the importance of "illusions" in
romantic relationships. During the four-year study, the team of five researchers attempted to challenge the conventional belief that relationships need
illusions to prosper.

"Studies have shown that for a person to view his or her partner more favorably than they view themselves is beneficial," said assistant psychology
professor and researcher C. Raymond Knee.

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The UH team hypothesized that illusions often play less of a role in the overall success of a relationship than many psychologists believed. The
researchers tested their hypothesis by examining participantsi beliefs about growth vs. destiny in relationships.

They found that people who believe in building strong relationships find more satisfaction than those who look for a perfect match.

People who have a stronger sense of growth believe that relationships develop as the result of overcoming obstacles, Knee said, while those who
believe in destiny hold that relationships work if two people are meant through fate to be together.

In the study, more than 200 couples were given a series of questionnaires and interviews to determine their beliefs in growth and destiny. The
majority of the couples were UH students.

The study began by questioning each participant to determine which belief he or she supported.

"Each partner was then interviewed separately and questioned about overall satisfaction in the relationship, when they officially considered
themselves a couple, and so on," Knee said.

After researchers compared the answers, the couples were brought back together to examine the discrepancies in their responses. Then each
individual was interviewed separately so the researchers could estimate their overall satisfaction after learning how their partners felt.

"With many couples, the final satisfaction changed a lot," Knee said.

The study found participants with a high belief in destiny were discouraged by minor discrepancies with their partners and, in the final session of
questioning, were substantially less satisfied with the relationship than they had previously indicated.

In contrast, individuals that focused more on growth in relationships said they were less discouraged by the results and reacted more positively to the
final part of the experiment, Knee said.

The team concluded that individuals who believed in destiny were more likely to need illusions in order to have a successful relationship.

"This says something about persistence and how it might depend on perception," he said. "Our hypothesis was right on. This downplays the
importance of illusions."

In addition, those who believe in destiny have a higher probability of becoming discouraged by their partnersi flaws, Knee said.

"People who believe in destiny tend to have fixed standards in what they want," explained Heather Patrick, the co-author of the study.

Other researchers in the study were Aruni Nanayakkara, Clayton Neighbors, Nathaniel A. Vietor, and four undergraduate students.

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