Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Megan R. Dillow

Committee Co-Chair

Melanie Booth-Butterfield

Committee Member

Pamela Lannutti

Committee Member

Matthew M. Martin

Committee Member

Scott A. Myers


Interpersonal relationships, and the communication that takes place within them, do not exist in a vacuum (Milardo, 1982). Extant research provides much useful information about the importance of perceived network support and interference for romantic relationships, yet there is limited information regarding why and how people engage in extradyadic communication with network members when they experience negative relational events in their romantic relationships. The purpose of the current dissertation was to (a) develop and validate measures of the motives and content of romantic partners' and friends' extradyadic communication about negative relational events in romantic relationships, (b) investigate relational and partner characteristics as predictors of extradyadic communication, and (c) examine the implications of extradyadic communication for communication behavior and relational outcomes in both friendships and romantic relationships. Three studies were designed to accomplish these goals. Results of focus groups conducted in Study One provided several dominant themes related to romantic partners' and friends' respective motives for and message content within extradyadic interactions about negative relational events in romantic relationships. These themes provided the basis for scale item development for Study Two, in which the results of exploratory factor analyses revealed the initial underlying factor structure of the motives and content scales for both romantic partners and friends. Results also indicated that romantic partners' perceived relational quality, as defined by the Investment Model (Rusbult, 1980), significantly and negatively predicted romantic partners' use of negative extradyadic messages, but not friends' extradyadic messages. In addition, romantic partners' perceived partner uniqueness negatively predicted the use of their own negative messages and friends' interference messages. Further, romantic partners' satisfaction with their friendship negatively predicted their use of negative extradyadic messages, and friends' perceptions of friendship closeness negatively predicted their use of support messages. In Study Three, additional scale modifications and confirmatory factor analyses were undertaken, validating the final factor structure of romantic partners' and friends' motives and content scales, respectively. Study Three also used observed conversations to examine the interactions of romantic partners' and friends' message content. Overwhelmingly, results indicated that the interaction of romantic partners' and friends' extradyadic messages (in terms of content) did not have a significant impact on immediate relational outcomes. Although there were some limitations to be considered, results provide a foundation for several areas of future research and continued investigation into reasons for and patterns of extradyadic communication and both romantic relationship and friendship functioning.