Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Christine E. Rittenour

Committee Co-Chair

Megan R. Dillow

Committee Member

Matthew M. Martin


Using Communication Theory of Identity (CTI) and the Bem Sex Role Index (BSRI), this study addresses the potential impact of societally-created, gendered expectations on the satisfaction of emerging adults. Two hundred twenty-nine undergraduates at a large mid-Atlantic university participated in the study by completing an online survey assessing gender, identity, and a relationship with a close other of their choosing. Results replicate previous research using CTI, which suggests that identity gaps relating to gender are dissatisfying. Specifically, gaps at the personal-enacted, personal-relational, and the newly-created personal-personal levels were negatively related to participant satisfaction, and personal-relational gaps were negatively correlated with relational satisfaction. Additionally, self-efficacy influenced the magnitude of these trends. Results include factor analyses and the development of a new CTI measure which, like the previously-established CTI measures, correlated to participants’ reported levels of satisfaction. Results also suggest a need to implement the BSRI in modern research. This study provides support for the importance of understanding the impact gender identity and sex roles can have on the relationships and happiness of emerging adults.