Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Howard Markman, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Galena K. Rhoades

Third Advisor

Anne P. DePrince

Fourth Advisor

Daniel McIntosh

Fifth Advisor

Shelly Smith-Acuna


Commitment, Couples, Facebook, Jealousy, Relationship development, Social media


The present study examined the use of social media to represent romantic relationships among a diverse, national sample (N=831) of Facebook users aged 20-37. Taken together, results from this study indicate that relationship representation via Facebook is associated with various aspects of commitment, including couple identity, prioritization of one’s relationship, and commitment to the future, and was also associated with stability of the relationship over time. Social media relationship representation was also found to be associated with lower levels of sexual infidelity, alternative partner monitoring, and partner’s jealousy, as well as higher levels of perceived social pressure from friends and family for one’s relationship to continue. No gender differences in relationship representation via social media were found among individuals who were currently in relationships, but single men were found to be more likely than single women to display their single status via Facebook. Among single individuals, displaying one’s single status via Facebook was associated with sexual activity with a higher number of sexual partners. These results are consistent with hypotheses based on commitment theory, self-presentation theory, and economic signal theory. Results are discussed in light of commitment theory, and the fact that many social scientists have perceived a recent societal trend toward ambiguity in relationship development processes among emerging adults. The findings lend support to the notion that social media provides individuals and society with the opportunity to adopt clear, public emblems of commitment, thought by many social scientists to be on the decline. The importance of the volitional nature of social media relationship representation is considered, as are the clinical, methodological, and societal implications of the present results. Limitations of this study and the challenges and possibilities of social media in the field of relationship research are discussed, and recommendations are made for future research.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Gretchen Kelmer

File size

122 p.

File format





Clinical psychology