Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Specialization

Clinical Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Patricia Morokoff

Abstract

The current study was designed to meet two overarching goals. The first goal was to test an empirical and theoretically driven structural model of dyadic dependency and relationship functioning for female couples. This model tested mediating pathways between early life experiences: negative family environment and childhood sexual abuse (CSA), outcome variables: relationship functioning (i.e. communication style, power equality, relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction and domestic violence) and psychological symptoms (i.e. depression, anxiety and somatization). Mediating latent variables included adult sexual victimization, dyadic dependency, social support and identity. The second goal was to establish support for construct validity of the Healthy Emotional Reliance Scale (HERS; Golding, Morokoff & Rossi, 2007). Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) with EQS statistical program Version 6.1 was used to analyze data for two samples of women (n1 = 439; n2 = 438, Ntot = 877) currently in a relationship with another woman for at least six months. Participants were recruited online and data was collected via an online survey.

SEM results suggested good fit between the data and revised proposed models of relationship functioning in female couples for both sample 1 (χ2 (223, n = 245) = 443.372, p < .001); CFI= .923; RMSEA = .064) and sample 2 (χ2 (223, n = 244) = 444.704, p < .001); CFI= .913; RMSEA = .064) as well as partial support for construct validity of the HERS. Three main model pathways emerged: (1) Negative Family Environment to Social Support to Relationship Functioning (revised to include mediating variable of Dyadic Dependency), (2) Negative Family Environment to Social Support to Psychological Symptoms and (3) CSA to Adult Sexual Victimization to Psychological Symptoms. Model comparison results suggest that social support is an important facet to same-sex female relationships. Results suggested an intertwined relationship between dyadic dependency and relationship functioning which resulted in model revisions that incorporated dyadic dependency under relationship functioning as one outcome latent variable. Details of the hypothesized model and theoretical underpinnings, statistical processes, theoretical implications of findings and future directions are discussed.

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