Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Anne Wilson

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


How do romantic partners determine if they are happy in their current relationship? What standards do they use when appraising their romantic relationship? The present thesis examines people’s preferences among various comparison standards (social comparisons, temporal past comparisons, temporal future comparisons and previous relationship comparisons) for relationship appraisal, the direction in which people prefer to make various relationship comparisons and the reported and actual impact of these comparison standards on relationship appraisals. The present research also examines the hypothesis that certain relationship beliefs and characteristics (controllability and satisfaction) affect how one interprets these comparison standards. In study 1, 140 undergraduate university students involved in dating relationships reported a preference for temporal comparisons to their relationship’s past or future. Also, participants reported a preference for comparisons, which enhanced their current relationship and suggested optimism for the future. Finally, people reported that comparisons to previous romantic relationships resulted in the most positive relationship appraisals. Many of these findings were more pervasive across privileged than public relationship traits. In study 2, 128 undergraduate university students involved in dating relationships felt most positively about the love in their current relationship when asked to make comparisons to inferior and equal relationships among one’s peers, superior and equal points in one’s relationship’s past and future and previous relationship comparisons of all directions. In addition, participants reported a preference for relationship-enhancing comparisons. Finally, one’s perceived control over love and relationship satisfaction influenced participants’ interpretations of relationship comparisons. However, these moderating effects were not found for all comparison types and were not always in the predicted direction.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season