Seeking interdependence: Commitment desirability and the initiation and maintenance of close relationships

Yu-Yang Kenneth Tan, Purdue University


People vary in the extent to which they believe that a committed relationship is desirable for them. The current research offers and examines the concept of commitment desirability, defined as the subjective desire to be involved in a committed romantic relationship. In six studies, the present research developed and tested a measure of commitment desirability and explored how it influences relationship initiation among those not currently involved in a relationship, and maintenance and dissolution decisions among those who are involved in a relationship. Study 1 and 2a developed and validated a reliable measure of commitment desirability. Study 2b examined the concurrent association of commitment desirability with dependence and dissolution consideration among people currently involved in a romance and provided evidence for its predictive validity via measures of breakup assessed approximately 4 months later. Using samples of people not currently involved in a romance, Study 3 provided initial evidence that an antecedent for commitment desirability lies in perceptions of past romantic relationship satisfaction, while Study 4 provided experimental evidence demonstrating that individuals higher in own commitment desirability express greatest romantic interest in targets who themselves are particularly interested in a committed relationship. Study 5 replicated the matching effect of commitment desirability and perceived partner commitment for individuals currently involved in relationships, showing that commitment desirability was associated with greater expectations of relationship stability and certainty, especially when partners were perceived to be high in commitment. Study 6 was an experiment exploring relationship maintenance behaviors concerning partner goal support for people currently involved in a romance. Individuals high in commitment desirability were more willing to support their partner’s own individual goals especially if they perceived their partner to be highly committed to the relationship. Taken together, the present research suggests that commitment desirability is a meaningful predictor of relationship attitudes and behaviors. Implications and future directions are discussed.




Agnew, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Social psychology

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