SELF-DISCLOSURE TO INITIATE LONG-TERM ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS ONLINE: A MIXED METHODS STUDY IN INDIA AND THE U.S.
Atwell Seate, Anita
Fink, Edward L
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In this dissertation, I explored the process of initiating long-term romantic relationships in India and the U.S. in the context of mate-seeking online. Specifically, I proposed that perceptions of relational environments and beliefs about long-term romantic relationships influence the kind of information people self-disclose to potential partners. Using the theoretical concept of relational mobility and romantic relationship schemas, I conducted three studies to explain these cross-cultural phenomena. Given that scales measuring schemas about long-term romantic relationship have been developed in the West (i.e., U.S. and Australia), a preliminary study was conducted to thematically analyze participant-generated salient beliefs about long-term romantic relationships among Indians and U.S. Americans. In Study I, the dimensionality of a new cross-cultural scale of long-term romantic relationship schemas was examined using a mixed-method approach. In this study, I used an iterative approach, cycling between thematic analysis and exploratory factor analysis. Results show that long-term romantic relationship schemas in India and the U.S. consists of beliefs that have not been explored in existing scales of romantic relationship schemas suggesting that Western perspectives do not holistically account for all the belief structures mate-seekers have and use to initiate long-term romantic relationships. Qualitative findings in Study I indicate that although Indians and U.S. Americans think beliefs related to parents, traditional views about endogamy and gender roles, and socioeconomic status are important considerations for long-term romantic relationships, there are differences in why they perceive these beliefs important. Study II used a mixed method approach again, cycling between thematic analysis and statistical analyses. In Study II, self-disclosure contents used by Indians and U.S. Americans, in the context of mate-seeking online were qualitatively examined using thematic analysis. The qualitative findings suggests that to better understand the kind of information mate-seekers reveal online, it is also important to examine the intent of self-disclosure. These qualitative findings informed the statistical decisions I used to test the hypotheses in Study II. In Study II, a verification of the new scale of schemas was attempted, but was unsuccessful. Several hypotheses relating perceptions of relational mobility to long-term romantic relationship schemas and different self-disclosure content types were tested. Study II findings indicate that the cross-cultural scale of long-term romantic relationship schemas to some degree influence the kind of information people self-disclose in the context of mate-seeking, at least for U.S. Americans. Further, perceptions of relational environments also influence the amount of unique personal level information mate-seekers disclose during initial stages of courtship. Although there were limitations to the studies, the present dissertation has theoretical contributions to the cross-cultural research on the process of contemporary courtship.