Long Distance vs. Proximal Romantic Relationships: Predicting Commitment, Investments, and Bias

by Arielle Butler
Faculty advisor: Dr. Wind Goodfriend

One of the prime periods of life when romantic relationships become a focus is during college, and a scenario some college students face is keeping the relationship from high school with a romantic partner who decides to attend a different university. This relationship will then become “long distance.” The present study examined cognitive biases in long distance (LDR) and proximal (PR) romantic relationships; specifically, we investigated whether couple members are biased to believe their relationship type is “better.” We also examined if LDRs and PRs differ in important relationship variables including satisfaction, alternatives, and investments. Bias was measured using the investment model scale (Rusbult et al., 1998). Participants completed the items from three different perspectives: the current relationship of the participant, their perception of the “average” PR, and their perception of the “average” LDR. Results are predicted to show (1) Participants will have a biased opinion towards their own relationship type, (2) people in LDRs will have more perceived alternatives, (3) people in PRs will have higher satisfaction levels, (4) and relationship duration will be positively correlated with investments in the relationship, and (5) proximal relationships will have more investments than long distance relationships. Implications will be discussed.