An association of commitment and communal-exchange relationship oreintation



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The present research explores the association between commitment, communal-exchange orientation, and satisfaction in romantic relationships. Relationship commitment focuses on the stability of a relationship, including its maintenance and interdependence of partners (Rusbult, 1983). It has been proposed that commitment involves three dimensions (i.e., personal desire to be in the relationship, moral obligation to remain in the relationship, and external constraints to leaving the relationship; Johnson, 1973; Johnson, Caughlin, & Huston, 1999). Rusbult’s (1980, 1983) investment model of relationship commitment indicates that commitment is predicted by a combination of relationship satisfaction plus the investment of resources in the relationship less the perceived attractive alternatives to the relationship. Also, commitment is a process of interpersonal interactions (Surra, 1987; Surra & Hughes, 1997). In communal-exchange relationship orientation (Clark & Mills, 1979; Mills & Clark, 1982), relationships are distinguished by the timing and comparability of benefits. Communal relationships focus on being responsive to the other’s needs, and imply long-term relationships. Exchange relationships focus on debts incurred and repayment of similar benefits in a timely manner. Results from past research indicate that exchange orientation is negatively associated with marriage adjustment and positively associated with dissatisfaction.

In current research, correlational analyses indicated that commitment and its components are associated with communal-exchange relationship orientation. Student participants reported a more significant relationship than did the community participants between communal relationship orientation and commitment. Women more than men reported significant associations between communal relationship orientation and commitment. However, the differences between women’s and men’s associations were not significant and the addition of communal relationship orientation did not increase the prediction of commitment by the investment model. Perceived partner commitment accounted for a 3% increase in the ability of the investment model to predict one’s commitment. Overall, aspects of commitment are related to relationship satisfaction, no matter how commitment is measured.