Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Machia, Laura


dissolution consideration, self-concept, self-contraction

Subject Categories

Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology


Romantic relationships provide people with the opportunity to change who they are and how they come to think of themselves. This process, known as self-concept change, is generally positive and creates a perceived sense of closeness between romantic partners. However, not all romantic relationships remain intact, regardless of the benefits associated with self-concept change. Thus, people experience breakups, which impact how they perceive themselves. But before leaving their relationship, people have thoughts about leaving (i.e., dissolution consideration). People will likely perceive changes to their sense of self before leaving the relationship. Specifically, I predicted and found in Studies 1-2 that dissolution consideration was associated with people perceiving their sense of self to contract and shrink. Evidence post-dissolution suggests that some people may have exerted personal effort to obtain a given attribute and keep said attribute as part of their sense of self, regardless of how their partner influenced them, compared to people who did not perceive a great deal of personal effort. Thus, I predicted that people high in dissolution consideration who exert a great deal of personal effort and perceive their partner to have influenced their self-concept will be less likely to self-contract than people low in dissolution consideration. In Study 3, as expected, people high in dissolution consideration who perceive greater partner influence were more likely to perceive their sense of self as contracted than people who perceived low partner influence. However, the personal effort did not influence whether people self-contracted. Implications of this research are discussed further.


Open Access