Family of origin functioning and the likelihood of seeking romantic partners over the Internet

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Marriage and Family Therapy


Linda Stone Fish


Family of origin, Romantic partners, Internet dating, Social networking, Online dating, Family functioning

Subject Categories

Family, Life Course, and Society | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology | Sociology


This study was grounded in family systems theory and explored the relationship between family of origin functioning, demographic characteristics, and choices about Internet relationships. One hundred forty-eight university students completed the Self-Report Family Inventory Version II (SFI) that measured perceived family of origin functioning (Beavers & Hampson, 1990), and a demographic questionnaire that included questions about Internet relationship choices on Internet dating web sites, Facebook, as well as MySpace. The results indicated that higher levels of unresolved conflict in one's family of origin were significantly related to the likelihood to search for romantic partners on MySpace in the future, as well as to report a history of a phone conversation with someone with whom one originally met on Facebook. Furthermore, gender, race, religion, major in school, community size, annual household income, parents' marital status, and place of residence all significantly impacted Internet relationship choices. According to this study, high levels of unresolved conflict in the family of origin are related to forming and developing Internet relationships, but it is not known why. Also, family structure variables such as parents' marital status and place of residence (living with both parents or not living with both parents) were related to Internet relationships, but the reasons for this are unclear as well. Future research should focus on discovering the reasons for the results of the current study.


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