Motivations for disclosing past partner information to current partners: a new measure

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Clinical Psychology


Department of Psychology


Advisor: Lee J. Dixon


Past research has reported self-disclosure as an important process in both general and romantic relationships. However, research demonstrates that certain disclosures are risky in content (e.g., past relationship experiences) and could lead to subsequent relationship conflict, such as embarrassment or alienation. However, several advantages of self-disclosure have been identified, such as establishment of mutual liking and increased intimacy. Other theories have posited that specific social incentives often drive the decision to disclose or not disclose. Newman (1982) developed a theory about why partners talk about past partners to current partners, and theorized that there are five potential motivations explaining this behavior. To our knowledge, no current studies exist that empirically measure how different motivations for talking about past partner experiences to current partners might be related to various relational and personal characteristics. The purpose of this study is twofold. Study one focuses on the creation of a measure assessing Newman's differing motivations. Cronbach's alphas were run to assess internal consistency of motivational scale items. Study two seeks to re-establish internal consistency and demonstrate construct validity between motivational subscales and correlates under investigation. Thus, the ability of the motivational subscales to predict outcome variables above and beyond the general tendency to disclose was achieved by controlling for general disclosure through partial correlation analyses. Findings demonstrate evidence for the predictive power of three out of the five motivational subscales independent of one's general tendency to disclose. Suggestions are made regarding the remaining subscales less predictive of the tested outcome variables.


Motivation (Psychology) Testing, Interpersonal communication Psychological aspects, Interpersonal relations Psychological aspects, Self-disclosure, Psychology, romantic relationships, self-disclosure, past partners, motivations

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Copyright © 2015, author