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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Evelyn Mercado

Second Advisor

Ezra Markowitz

Third Advisor

Holly Laws

Fourth Advisor

Paula Pietromonaco

Subject Categories

Health Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts | Quantitative Psychology | Social Psychology


The need to be and feel safe is a fundamental human need. Despite extensive theoretical arguments on the subject, and research on relevant concepts, empirical work on what it means to feel interpersonally safe (i.e., in the presence of others or in social environments in general) is scarce. This dissertation presents four investigations that seek to address this gap. It also seeks to highlight the consequences of feeling interpersonally safe for our mental and physical health, and to what degree healthy and high-quality close relationships influence how safe we feel. Chapter 1 is a literature review summarizing theories underlying these investigations and distinguishes subjective from objective safety. Chapter 2 validates a novel, comprehensive and multidimensional scale that captures perceived interpersonal safety. Chapter 3 examines the consequences of feeling safe for our mental and physical health across three developmental stages (adolescence, emerging adulthood, adulthood). Chapter 4 examines how secure attachment relates to increased feelings of safety. Chapter 5 investigates whether high-quality romantic relationships can increase overall perceptions of interpersonal safety. Finally, Chapter 6 concludes by highlighting the empirical, applied and theoretical contribution of the aforementioned investigations, concluding by posing suggestions for future research.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.