Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Communication accommodation theory, conflict, testosterone, relational uncertainty, relationship satisfaction

Major Advisor

Dr. Amanda Denes

Associate Advisor

Dr. John Christensen

Associate Advisor

Dr. Shardé Davis

Field of Study

Communication Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Recent investigations have focused on exploring the role of physiology in human communication, yet a plethora of work is required to better understand how physiology affects or is affected by relational communication and the present investigation contributes to this body of research. This study combined the tenets of communication accommodation theory (CAT), relational uncertainty, and steroid/peptide theory of social bonds (S/P theory) to examine the role of testosterone (T) in romantic partners’ conflict conversation behaviors. More specifically, the study proposed that T moderates the association between romantic partners use of (non)accommodation during conflict conversations and relational uncertainty, which in turn influences their relationship satisfaction. The study also investigated how individuals’ T levels fluctuate in response to their partner’s use of (non)accommodation during conflict conversation.

The study tested several actor and partner moderated mediation models to reveal both antisocial andprosocial role of T in romantic partner’s conflict communication. Results revealed that T levels moderate the actor and partner effects of perceived partner (non)accommodation on relational uncertainty differentially, and relational uncertainty mediates the association between perceptions of partner (non)accommodation and relationship satisfaction. In sum, this dissertation support the tenets of CAT and S/P theory of social bonds, and reveals the utility of combining physiology and communication theories to better understand the links between romantic partners’ biology and their communication during conflict conversations. The study provides evidence that the physiology plays an integral role in romantic partners’ relationships and outlines practical advice for relationship nurturance.