The purpose of this research study was to investigate the directional relationship between emerging adults' intensity of online dating and their levels of empathy, objectification of others, and quality of romantic relationships. This investigation tested the theoretical model that emerging adults' (N = 1,613) intensity of online dating (as measured by the Online Dating Intensity Scale [ODI]) contributed to their levels of empathy (as measured by the Adolescent Measure of Empathy and Sympathy [AMES]; Vossen, Piotrowski, & Valkenburg, 2015), objectification of others (as measured by the Sexual-Other Objectification Scale [SOOS]), and quality of relationships with romantic partners (as measured by the Relationships Structure Questionnaire [ECR-RS; Fraley, Heffernan, Vicary, & Brumbaugh, 2011] and Relationship Assessment Scale [RAS; Hendrick, 1988]). Specifically, the researcher tested the hypothesized directional relationship that emerging adults with greater intensity of using online dating services (e.g., websites and applications) would have (a) decreased levels of empathy, (b) increased levels of objectification of others, and (c) decreased quality of relationships with romantic partners. In addition, the researcher investigated the relationship between emerging adults' demographic variables (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, etc.) and the intensity of their use of online dating services, levels of empathy, objectification of others, and relationship quality with romantic partners. The researcher conducted a thorough review of the literature regarding the constructs of interest in this investigation, providing conceptual evidence and empirical support for the research hypotheses and exploratory research questions. A convenience sample of emerging adult undergraduate or master's level students enrolled in various colleges and universities throughout the United States were invited to participate in this study. The researcher collected data through web-based survey and face-to-face administration. The researcher employed structural equation modeling (SEM) analyses to test the research hypothesis. In order to utilize SEM, the researcher also conducted confirmatory factor analyses and exploratory factor analyses to evaluate the validity and reliability of the assessment data used in the investigation. Additionally, the researcher conducted multiple linear regression, Pearson Product-Moment correlations, Spearman Rank Order correlations, and analysis of variance to analyze the data for the exploratory questions. The results of the structural equation model (SEM) analyses identified that emerging adults' intensity of online dating contributed to their levels of empathy (5.3% of the variance explained) and objectification of others (9% of the variance explained). Furthermore, the results of the analyses indicated a dynamic relationship between emerging adults' levels of empathy and objectification of others. Specifically, emerging adults' level of empathy shared a strong negative relationship with their level of objectification of others (98% of the variance explained). In contrast, emerging adults' level of objectification of others positively related to empathy (59.3% of the variance explained). Lastly, emerging adults' levels of empathy and objectification of others contributed to emerging adults' quality of romantic relationships (64% of the variance explained; 37% of the variance explained respectfully). The researcher compared the findings from the current investigation to previous research and assessed the limitations of this study. The findings from the study have implications for future research, clinical practice, counselor education, and instrument development. Specifically, findings from this investigation provide support for (a) increased clinical awareness of emerging adults' widespread use of online dating services; (b) the incorporation of social communication technology and online dating subjects into CACREP accredited counseling courses; and (c) and insight into the instrument development of the ODI, AMES, and SOOS.


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Graduation Date





Lambie, Glenn


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance

Degree Program

Education; Counselor Education









Release Date


Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)