Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Melanie Booth-Butterfield.


Affectionate messages are important in romantic relationships as they are linked to multiple emotional, physical, and relational benefits (e.g., Floyd, 2006a). When examining affection, it is important to distinguish that feelings of affection and the communication of affection are two unique processes that theorists argue covary. Yet, deception researchers have found that individuals routinely lie to their non-married romantic partners about their feelings (DePaulo & Kasy, 1998; DePaulo, Kashy, Kirkendol, Wyer, & Epstein, 1996). This dissertation, composed of two studies, examined how individuals in non-married romantic relationships communicated deceptive affection and the implications of such messages. Study one used a week long diary method in which participants recorded instances of deceptive affection and rumination. Results indicated that individuals communicated approximately three deceptive affectionate messages (DAMs) to their partners in a week, and the type of DAM was related to rumination. These messages were most often used to conceal negative feelings and expressed for prosocial reasons. Study two was an experiment that examined the emotional (guilt and shame) and physiological (heart rate and blood pressure) implications of expressing DAMs to romantic partners. A writing method was used where participants wrote for 20 minutes about either a DAM, honest affection, or plans with friends (control). Results indicated that the writing method did not result in any physiological changes. Deceptive motives did not influence deceivers' feelings of guilt and shame. Together, deceptive affection appears to be a message that partners routinely communicate to one another resulting in minimal emotional and physiological implications.