Why do people try to change their intimate relationships? : the regulation function of ideal standards
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The Ideal Standards Model (Simpson, Fletcher, & Campbell, 2001) proposes that individuals evaluate and regulate their relationship and relationship partner depending on how closely perceptions match ideal standards. Support has been reported for the evaluation function (e.g., Fletcher, Simpson, Thomas, & Giles, 1999), but no research has tested the regulation function. In Study 1, individuals (N=200) in relationships rated their self and partner: a) actual perceptions, b) ideal standards, c) ideal-perception consistency, d) desire and attempts to change both self and partner over the last 6 months, and e) perceived success of regulation attempts. In Study 2, heterosexual couples (N=62) completed the same measures, and SEM was used to test within and cross partner associations. The results supported all predictions, and replicated across studies. First, higher self regulation was associated with lower self ideal-perception consistency (but not partner ideal-consistency), whereas higher partner regulation was associated with lower partner ideal-perception consistency (but not self ideal consistency). Second, these relationships were moderated by success of regulation attempts. Third, ideal-perception consistency mediated the relationship between partner regulation and perceived relationship quality. Fourth, these effects replicated across three pivotal mate value dimensions (Warmth/Trustworthiness, Attractiveness/Vitality, and Status/Resources), gender and measurement strategy, and were not a function of judgment positivity. In Study 3, crosslagged aI1alyses suggested that ideal-perception consistency and regulation influence each other over time. Implications and explanations are discussed.