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TitleThe Cambridge Handbook of Personal Relationships (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology)
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The Cambridge Handbook
of Personal Relationships

The Cambridge Handbook of Personal Relation-
ships serves as a benchmark of the current state of
scholarship in this dynamic field, synthesizing the
extant theoretical and empirical literature, trac-
ing its historical roots, and making recommenda-
tions for future directions. The volume addresses
a broad range of established and emerging topics,
including theoretical and methodological issues
that influence the study of personal relationships;
research and theory on relationship development;
the nature and functions of personal relation-
ships across the life span; individual differences
and their influences on relationships; relationship
processes such as cognition, emotion, and com-
munication; relational qualities such as satisfac-
tion and commitment; environmental influences
on personal relationships; and maintenance and
repair of relationships. The authors are experts
from a variety of disciplines, including several
subfields of psychology, communication, family
studies, and sociology, who have made major con-
tributions to the understanding of relationships.

Anita L. Vangelisti is a professor in the Depart-
ment of Communication Studies at the Uni-

versity of Texas at Austin. Her work focuses
on the associations between communication and
emotion in the context of close, personal rela-
tionships. She has published numerous arti-
cles and chapters and has edited several books.
Vangelisti has served on the editorial boards
of over a dozen scholarly journals and has
received recognition for her research from the
National Communication Association and the
International Society for the Study of Personal

Daniel Perlman is an academic psychologist
with broad, applied interests that cut across
social, developmental, and clinical psychology
as focused on the study of close relationships.
He is a professor of Family Studies and also
teaches in the Department of Psychology at the
University of British Columbia. He was presi-
dent of the International Society for the Study
of Personal Relationships and the Canadian Psy-
chological Association. He has authored more
than 50 articles, edited or authored 15 books,
and been the editor or associate editor for four


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434 the cambridge handbook of personal relationships

his associates (Pierce, Sarason, & Sarason,
1991). The QRI was designed to strengthen
two of the weak points in social support
assessment, its global nature and its removal
from the context of other aspects of rela-
tionships. The QRI focused on aspects of an
individual’s relationship with a specific per-
son, and it contained three separate scales by
which to assess the relationship – support,
depth or importance of the relationship in
one’s life, and conflict. Use of these scales
made assessment of the cognitive aspects of
social support more exact because the sup-
port could be seen in the context of these
other aspects of the relationship between a
particular pair of individuals. In both lab-
oratory and in clinical settings, the QRI
has been shown to enhance prediction of
psychological health beyond that obtained
from a general social support measure and
demonstrated that social support percep-
tions are truly dyadic and specific to the
individuals involved. For example, predic-
tions based on a student’s QRI about his or
her mother predicted the student’s appraisal
of later behavior attributed to the mother,
although the QRI data about his or her
father did not (Pierce, Sarason, & Sarason,
1992). Even though the student’s QRI rat-
ings of the two parents were correlated,
they were sensitive to differences in the
two relationships.

Levels of Analysis in Social Support

Sarason and her colleagues (B. R. Sara-
son, Pierce, Bannerman, & Sarason, 1993)
demonstrated that measures of perceived
social support between family members
were related but dyad specific. In a complex
study, Branje and her colleagues (Branje, van
Aken, & van Lieshout, 2002) expanded on
this finding. In their study of dyadic sup-
port perceptions within families consisting
of parents and two adolescent children, they
found that four separate relationship-related
support effects independently contributed
to the prediction of the perceived relational
support for each dyadic relationship. These
effects included perceiver variance, that is,

the contribution of the recipient partner
variance; the contribution of the support
giver; relationship variance, that is, the role
in the family (mother, father, older sibling,
younger sibling); and family variance, that
is, the general level of family support per-
ceived by each participant. The percent of
the variance contributed by each of these
variables differed depending on the fam-
ily relationship of the dyad members. For
instance, the adolescents’ support percep-
tions were mainly explained by either their
own characteristics as perceivers or the gen-
eral sense of support held by all family mem-
bers. This finding buttresses the assertion by
several authors that one aspect of social sup-
port is the general sense of support produced
through early supportive interactions within
the family as suggested by Bowlby’s discus-
sion of early attachment (Lakey & Dickin-
son, 1994 ; B. R. Sarason et al., 1993). In
contrast, for the marital relationship, per-
ceived support was predicted much more
by the dyadic qualities of the relationship
than any of the other variables. The results
of the Branje et al. (2002) study suggest
that relational factors are the primary pre-
dictors of perceived support within cou-
ple relationships and confirmed earlier find-
ings by Lakey and his coworkers (Lakey,
McCabe, Fisicaro, & Drew, 1996). The study
illustrates the importance of several aspects
of specific relationships in the provision of
social support.

Other Relationship Functions
to Consider

In considering what goes on in close rela-
tionships, it is obvious that they serve a
number of different functions with respect
to personal health and well-being. Social
support is perhaps one of the most widely
researched, but others – in particular, com-
panionship and social control – also play
important roles. One of the problems with
many ways of assessing social support is that
these aspects of interaction in close relation-
ships are comingled so the definitions and
conclusions continue to be fuzzy.

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close relationships and social support: implications for the measurement 435

Companionship and Social Support
Are Not the Same

Rook (1989) pointed out that many of the
positive behaviors that occur in close rela-
tionships and contribute to positive out-
comes should be classified as companionate,
not as socially supportive. Unlike social sup-
port behaviors, which have an intended pur-
pose, these companionship behaviors have
no intrinsic function, yet they supply impor-
tant pleasures that affect daily life. They
provide satisfaction simply by participation.
Companionate activities also have an impor-
tant expressive function; they may have pos-
itive effects on mood and feelings of well-
being. Rook (1989, 1990) found that com-
panionship had a general effect on psycho-
logical well-being and served as a buffer
against relatively minor life stresses. Social
support, in contrast, often served to amelio-
rate major life stresses but had little or no
effect on minor ones.

One way to help clarify this distinction
between companionship and social support
was advanced by Cutrona (1986) when she
suggested that categorizing behavior in close
relationships as socially supportive should be
limited to those behaviors that occur when
the recipient is perceived to be experienc-
ing stress. Although this definition might be
helpful, it is also problematic in its narrow-
ness and also because most measures that
assess social support include items that deal
with companionship as well. An example of
such an item might be, “When I want to go
to the movies, there is someone I can ask to
go with me.”

Close Relationships and Social Control

Health psychologists use the term social
control to draw attention to an important
function of close relationships, such as mar-
riage, in the regulation of healthful lifestyle
and behavior. One effect of social control
may be indirect. As a result of a sense
of personal obligation to others, individuals
involved in close personal relationships may
refrain from risky activities such as scuba
diving or rock climbing. Their concern for
the consequences to others of their possible

injury or death may serve as a deterrent for
such activities and as a spur toward positive
health behaviors. Large epidemiological sur-
veys have shown that both marriage and par-
enthood often facilitate self-regulation by
the choice of positive health behaviors and
the reduction of negative ones (Umberson,
1987). However, these survey measures are
not sensitive enough for prediction on an
individual level.

Health psychologists have focused more
attention on the second broad aspect of
social control, the efforts of network mem-
bers, especially those closest to an individual,
to foster a change in his or her health-related
behaviors. This may take the form of encour-
aging health promoting behaviors, monitor-
ing health-related behaviors, or seeking to
prohibit those that are potentially injurious
to health. Marital partners who attempt to
control the behaviors of their spouse are
more likely to be women than men (Umber-
son, 1992). Perhaps for this reason, in terms
of mortality, marriage has been found to be
more beneficial for men than for women
(Orth-Gomer, 1994). However, the degree
of satisfaction in the marriage was found
to be more important for health outcomes
for women than for men. In a long-term
study of marriages, women in marriages
that the participants considered unsatisfac-
tory in some way experienced more phys-
ical and mental health problems than did
their husbands, whereas in marriages con-
sidered satisfactory to both husbands and
wives, the health of both participants was
equal (Levenson, Carstensen, & Gottman,
1993). Brown and Harris (1978) also found
that women with unsatisfactory marital rela-
tionships were more protected from mental
health problems if they had a close friend
or confidant. In this case, the marital rela-
tionship served as a stressor rather than
as a support.

It is likely that a spouse’s attempts at
social control may have negative effects on
the marital relationship. One unanswered
question is whether efforts to assert con-
trol, in themselves, provide the frustration
or whether continued attempts to alter a
partner’s behavior tend to be accompanied

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890 subject index

causal relations among, 52
establishing relationships between, 52
promoting commitment in commitment models,


viewed as universal properties, 125
vascular resistance, 387
vasopressin, 596, 601, 781
verbal communication, 645
verbal messages of self-disclosure, 411
verbal report as an index of emotion, 585
Viagra and other sex drugs, 477
vicious cycle, intervention for a, 320
victimization, children at risk for bullying, 184
victims of intimate terrorists, 566
Victorian era, 679
Victorian homes, buffered physically, 680
video camera, recording subjects interaction, 59

heightened state of, 239
increased to threat-related cues, 254

violence. See also domestic violence; family violence;
IPV (intimate partner violence); IT (intimate
terrorism); lethal violence; relationship violence;
SCV (situational couple violence); VR (violent

arising out of an ongoing relationship, 557
consequences of, 567–568
creating terror and constant fear, 561
critical distinctions among types of, 562
embedded in a pattern of power and control, 559
in the face of IT, 561
frequent and severe likely to be IT, 562
health consequences of, 567
inadvertently aggregating different types, 558
infrequent and mild likely to be SCV, 562
against intimates other than one’s partner, 568–569
justified by a a wife’s sexual infidelity, 535
by parents against children, 569
in personal relationships, 557
resorted to by jealous individuals, 547
within same-sex relationships, 303
situationally-provoked, 561
using to control children, 569

violent acts, characteristics of, 565
violent conflict, 446, 448
violent couples, 101
violent inter-spousal relationships, 65
violent relationships

autonomy and power issues in, 784
category with one and only one incident, 566

violent resistance. See VR
violent resistors, inflicting a much lower level of injury,


violent/antisocial intimate terrorists, 564
virginity, 470
virtual affairs, 533
viruses, 388
visitable houses, 686
visual connections in a house, 685
visualized couples, 102
Voice as an active and constructive strategy, 734
voice tactics. See active/constructive behaviors
volatile couples, 736
volatile relationships, 103
voluntary dependence, 625
voluntary relationships, 95

VR (violent resistance), 557
almost entirely female, 563
dynamics of, 570
general dynamic of, 565
nature of, 561, 568
rooted in control and resistance, 559

of being in a close relationship, 518
varying levels of enduring, 141

vulnerability-stress-adaptation model, 141
vulnerable feelings

encouraging self-disclosure about, 759
probing for, 756

Waller, 14
Walster, E. See also Hatfield, Elaine

equity theory espoused by, 23
as an interdependence theorist, 17

“want to” commitment, 39
warm afterglow, 604
warm emotional climate, 132
Warmth/Trustworthiness category, 363
war-related stress, 44
weak ties

CMC especially useful for maintaining, 720
maintaining, 720

“web” of abuse, 560
“weekend father” role, 282
Weiss, Robert

attachment theory espoused by, 23
critique of Fiske’s typology, 96
loneliness, 25
theoretical taxonomy of relationships proposed by,

Weiss’s typology, limitations of, 98
Wellman, Barry, 658, 717
we-ness, 518
Western European nations as individualistic, 698
White families, levels of conflict compared to Hispanic

and Black, 701
wholeness (or nonsummativity) of living systems,


widowed, likelihood of being, 214
widows, key relationships remaining relatively

constant, 665
wife-beater. See intimate terrorists
willful disclosures, 411

mixed signals of, 474
to sacrifice, 734

wired residents
knowing more names of neighbors, 716
making more visits to their neighbors homes, 717

wisdom in old age, 213
withdrawal as a coping mechanism, 684
withholding information about stressful or traumatic

events, 421
within-sex effects, 275

associations of marital quality and blood pressure at
work and home, 394

chastisement of, 569
differential impact of conflict discussions on, 395
engaging in demanding behaviors more frequently,


greater responsibility for household labor, 286
more likely to perceive responses as positive, 647

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subject index 891

nonverbal behaviors when delivering positive and
negative messages, 645

susceptibility to infidelity, 538
women. See also females; lesbians

attracted to men exhibiting signs of status and
resources, 602

behaviors displayed to fulfill men’s relational
standards, 275

better at expressing emotions, 645
changes in social and economic location, 666
choosing emotional infidelity consistently, 546
concerned about the long-term survival of their

offspring, 123
dealing with IT, 565
divorce difficult for specific groups of, 161
emotion roles in the family, 378
emphasis on a partner’s status and economic

resources, 275
engaging in extradyadic sex, 538
engaging in health-promoting activities, 285
experiencing same-sex desires, 305
feeling more in control after divorce, 161
fighting back physically, 561
genetically wired differently from men, 36
greater ability to buffer partners’ insecurity, 437
greater focus on status and economic resources,


greater tendency to focus on others, 286
inclined to endorse aggressive action against a rival,


insecurely attached particularly disadvantaged, 437
interdependent traits and self-processes, 286
as intimate terrorists, 570
investing in a long-term relationship, 536
jealous over a physically attractive rival, 545
jealousy focused on emotional involvement, 545
judged more harshly than men for initiating sexual

activity, 280
killed by male partners, 567
less apt to report receiving emotional support from

their spouses, 218
less permissive in sexual behavior, 123
likelihood of being violent towards partners, 564
likelihood of remarriage, 166
likely to attempt to control spouse behavior, 435
likely to construct an interdependent self-view, 276
likely to initiate divorce, 162
lying more in the pursuit of being supportive and

positive, 523
most upsetting spousal behavior, 276
possessing a limited number of eggs, 464
preferring men showing ability and resources to

support offspring, 36
rating status and resources as more important, 363
relatively greater relationship orientation of, 276
remarriage as a way of improving economic

circumstances, 166

reporting emotional infidelity to be more upsetting,
546, 782

reporting more close friends in early adulthood, 195
reporting more commitment to maintaining their

relationships, 298
reporting significantly higher levels of loneliness than

men, 490
restricted engagements outside the home, 680
selective in choosing a mate, 123
sensitive to violations of rules of close relationships,


socializing to have more complex affective needs,

stronger marital quality-health link among, 286
studies purporting them to be as violent as men in

intimate relationships, 563
study of highly sexual, 279
suburban ideal as especially isolating to, 681
thinking “not good enough” in response to a

jealousy-evoking event, 547
understanding partners more accurately, 359
using more relational maintenance behavior, 737
viewing deception as more unacceptable, 528
violence in intimate relationships almost entirely

SCV, 565
welcoming a male partner’s sexual advances, 280

Wood, 25
work as a source of social support and romantic

partners, 163
work relationships as a category of affiliation, 97
work schedules, constraining women’s ability to

perform domestic work, 281
work–family spillover, 771
working alliance, 265
working attachment models as open to revision, 362
working from home, 684
working models

of attachment, 360, 585
in attachment theory, 754
automatic activation of outcome expectations, 361
continually updating people’s, 253
difference between global and relationship-specific

levels of, 262
of relationships, 252
viewing in terms of a hierarchy, 361

work-related stressors, 264
World Health Organization, depression as the single

most burdensome disease, 314
World Values Survey, 492 , 696
Wright, Frank Lloyd, 680
written correspondence, 58

young adults, remaining in or returning to their family
home, 214

Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 465

zinger, 449

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