Title

Relationship-Contingent Self-Esteem and Inter- and Intrapersonal Outcomes: All in Moderation

Date of Award

1-1-2019

Degree Name

M.A. in Clinical Psychology

Department

Department of Psychology

Advisor/Chair

Advisor: Lee Dixon

Abstract

Relationship-Contingent Self-Esteem (RCSE) involves individuals basing their self-regard on the nature and outcome of their relationship (Knee, Canevello, Bush, & Cook, 2008). RCSE is said to occur from a thwarting of basic psychological needs, including competence, relatedness, and autonomy (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Knee et al., 2008). When these needs are not fulfilled, issues such as feelings of incompetence, a lack of feeling of control, and issues with connecting with others can occur (Hadden, Rodriguez, Knee, & Porter, 2015). Further, those high in RCSE can have lower relationship satisfaction and experience higher levels of negative emotion (Knee et al., 2008).

The objective of the study is to examine how certain personality risk and protective factors that are correlates of the basic psychological needs influence the relationship between RCSE and relationship satisfaction and the experience of negative emotion (i.e., depression). The study draws from a large sample of university alumni (N = 2903) ranging in age from 21 to 90 years old (M = 45.1) from a private Catholic US university. Participants were asked to complete a survey containing a range of measures that examined various personality factors, as well as their current level of depression and satisfaction.

Based on moderation analyses (Cohen, Cohen, West, & Aiken, 2003), results indicated a significant positive association between RCSE and relationship satisfaction for males that weakened as level of competence increased. However, no significant association between RCSE and relationship satisfaction was found for any of the other correlates of the basic psychological needs. For both males and females low in autonomy, high in anxious attachment, and high in self-alienation, a significant positive association was found to exist between RCSE and depression. Similarly, a significant positive association was also found for females low in competence and self-compassion and for males low in relatedness and high in accepting external influence. Additionally, there was a significant positive association between RCSE and depression for females that weakened as level of authentic living increased, accepting external influence decreased, and relatedness increased. The results support the idea that RCSE's negative influence on mental health outcomes depend on certain personality risk and protective factors.

Keywords

Clinical Psychology, Psychology, Relationship-Contingent Self-Esteem, RCSE, contingent self-esteem, interpersonal outcomes, intrapersonal outcomes, basic psychological needs, influence of personality factors on relationship outcomes

Rights Statement

Copyright 2019, author

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