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.
Jason Yuen/The Daily Cougar
A relationship destined for
growth? Alex Jones and Amanda McFarlin enact a time-honored courtship ritual.
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
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
themselves a couple, and so on," Knee
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,
"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