Implicit Theories of Relationships and Conflict Communication Patterns in Romantic Relationships: A Dyadic Perspective

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

James V. Cordova


The present study examined the relationship between dyadic interaction patterns and implicit theories of relationships (ITRs). Self-report data was collected from 104 couples to measure two dimensions of ITRs: growth and destiny, and three key interaction patterns: demand/withdraw, mutual constructive communication, and mutual avoidance. We hypothesized that for each partner, a higher endorsement of growth beliefs would predict more approach behaviors, while a higher endorsement of destiny beliefs would predict more withdraw behaviors, in couple-level communication patterns. Multi-level SEM with indistinguishable dyads was used to evaluate these hypothesized effects. Results challenge the existing literature by indicating that neither destiny nor growth beliefs predict constructive communication or mutual avoidance for the couple. Additionally, we found that while destiny beliefs were related to increased withdrawal in a Demand-Withdraw pattern, growth beliefs related to both demand and withdraw in a Demand-Withdraw pattern. These findings suggest that assessing communication patterns at the couple level introduces complexity that is underexplored in the current literature. We recommend that to fully understand dyadic patterns, the dyad must be considered as the unit of analysis.