Keywords

Communication, dog ownership, pets, romantic relationships, conflict, relational maintenance, self expansion model

Abstract

Pets are a common aspect of life for many Americans. In 2012, 36.5% of American household owned dogs and 30.4% owned cats (American Veterinary Medical Foundation, 2012). The purpose on this study was to explore the influence of dog ownership on romantic relationships. Specifically, this thesis investigates how dog ownership acts as a catalyst of relational maintenance and conflict behavior in interactions about the couple's dog. No prior research has been conducted on the role dogs' play in enacting relational maintenance or conflict in romantic relationships, so it is unclear if there is an influence to the these behaviors. This study asks how dog ownership might act as a centripetal force pulling the relationship together (e.g. relational maintenance) and/or as a centrifugal force pushing the partners apart (e.g. conflict). A total of 379 participants were recruited through social media to complete a short online survey. The survey asked questions on the romantic relationship, dog ownership, conflict regarding the dog, relational maintenance activities regarding the dog, and demographics. The majority of participants reported engaging in 8 of the 24 relational maintenance activities "often" or "always" and 3 of the 30 conflict topics occurred at least one or more times. Satisfaction with the romantic relationship associated positively with partial weak and negligible correlations to the relational maintenance activities and one negligible association with a conflict topic. A thematic analysis provides details on the short answers participants provided. The results shows that dogs do provide couples opportunities for relational maintenance but also are the source of conflict. This research is the start to understanding the role of dog ownership within romantic relationship. While each couple and dog may produce different influences on the relationship, this study is the start for the investigation and provides guidance for future research.

Notes

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Graduation Date

2014

Semester

Summer

Advisor

Weger, Harry

Degree

Master of Arts (M.A.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Communication

Degree Program

Communication; Interpersonal Communication Track

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0005328

URL

http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/CFE0005328

Language

English

Release Date

August 2015

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)

Subjects

Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic

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