Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Susan Sprecher

Committee Member

Marla Reese-Weber


No research to date has examined how regulatory focus theory applies to relationships that are maintained long-distance, nor if individuals’ regulatory orientations differ in predicting relationship maintenance efforts between relationships that are geographically-close and those that are long-distance. The current study explores the communication efforts, ideal perceptions, and regulatory behaviors of individuals as a function of their regulatory focus (promotion focus vs. prevention focus) and relationship type (geographically-close vs. long-distance). One hundred eighty participants completed a survey that assessed their relationship type, regulatory focus, and relationship maintenance efforts (i.e., communications, perceptions, and behavior). Overall, it was found that individuals in long-distance relationships, compared to individuals in geographically-close relationships, engage in more frequent communication efforts, more self-idealized perceptions, and less self-regulation behaviors. Regarding regulatory orientations, those with a high degree of promotion focus, compared to those with a low degree of promotion focus, reported more intimate communication, more idealized perceptions of their partners and themselves, and less behavioral regulation of their partners and themselves. Alternatively, those with a high degree of prevention focus, compares to those with a low degree of prevention focus, reported less frequent communication, less partner-idealized perceptions, and more behavioral regulation of their partners and themselves. While regulatory orientations did not differ as a function of relationship type, implications are discussed pertaining to how the rapid evolution of communication technology has changed the way in which individuals maintain their relationship.


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