The significance of values in individuals' implicit theories for intimate relationships

Date of Completion

January 2006


Psychology, Developmental|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Psychology, Cognitive




This study explores the role of individuals' values in intimate partnerships. It utilizes Hall's (1986; 1995) Values Model (HVM) that measures core values orientations, from which four developmentally sequenced orientations to the world may be inferred. Hall's world view orientations appear to share conceptual similarities with Knee's (1998, 2003) orientations to relationships, in a model of Implicit Theories of Relationships (ITRs). Based on the interaction of two independent dimensions of individuals' beliefs about how successful relationships are realized---as a function of destiny or growth---ITRs have been shown to moderate established outcomes associated with marital quality and endurance. In both Hall's and Knee's models, "orientations" similarly depict individuals' (a) beliefs about the fixedness or malleability of attributes of the world or of the partner or relationship, (b) functioning or motivation of self in the world or relationship (i.e., locus-of-control), and (c) subsequent needs and goals that focus either on structure and safety or on development and efficacy. Individuals (N= 242) were recruited for Internet-administered measures of values/world view phase using the Hall-Tonna Inventory of Values (Hall, 1985, 2003), the ITRs scale (Knee 1998, 2003), and two relationship quality scales (1) Quality of Relationship Index (derived from QMI, Norton, 1983) and (2) Inclusion of Other in the Self scale derived from self-expansion growth perspectives on romantic relationships (Aron, et al., 1992). Holding Gender differences constant, bivariate and regression analyses revealed that Hall's values orientation scores were marginally but significantly related to Destiny and Growth beliefs, and moreso when both values orientations and ITRs were regressed on measures of relationship quality (effect sizes very small, .01-.03). The small magnitude of significant association for this sample was related to the very small number of scores reaching Hall's Phase III (involving a qualitative shift to an internal locus-of-control), perhaps reflecting Hall's estimates of <5% of the population scoring Phase III and beyond. As an initial inquiry this study is limited to an exploratory, conceptual comparison between models, and may provide a conceptual segue between the current state of values theory and research on intimate partnerships. ^