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The role of appreciation in close relationships

Andrea Rochelle Berger, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The hypothesis that as relationship costs increase, relationship satisfaction decreases has not received consistent empirical support. This series of three studies introduces a potential moderating variable: appreciation. Some people may have their debts of time, energy, or resources replenished by feeling appreciated by their partner. As a result, these people would not experience the negative relationship traditionally expected between costs and relationship satisfaction. Instead, there should be a positive relationship between engaging in these communal behaviors and relationship satisfaction when there is appreciation in the relationship. In addition, receiving appreciation may change the way individuals feel about the routine tasks associated with being in a relationship and running a household. In Study 1, 98 college-students in romantic relationships answered a short survey. In Study 2, a similar survey was given to a sample of 123 married and cohabiting women with a mean age of 43 years. Participants assessed how appreciated they felt for chores (behaviors done for the household and only asked of the non-student sample) and for favors (behaviors done for their partner and asked of both samples). The findings demonstrated that the negative relationship between costly behaviors and relationship satisfaction can be reversed if people perceive a partner's appreciation for their efforts. In addition, people felt less obligated and more motivated to engage in these behaviors when appreciation was present. A third study brought the same questions to a controlled laboratory study. Ninety college-students completed a boring task. They received either a reward, appreciation, or neither. The participants then rated the task, the experimenter, and their willingness to participate again in the future. No differences were found between the three experimental groups.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Personality

Recommended Citation

Berger, Andrea Rochelle, "The role of appreciation in close relationships" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9978474.