Response to Relationship Problems: BIS/BAS and Exit, Voice, Loyalty, and Neglect

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Student Presentation

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Kimberly McAdams


Communication patterns in romantic relationships have been studied extensively. However, little research has been conducted on the combination of personality characteristics and learning. While I do not directly measure learning in this study, I do take the perspective that learning is an essential component of a relationship that interacts with personality. I will examine this in terms of behavioral approach and behavioral inhibition. A major assumption in this paper is that people seek out rewards and avoid punishments, but in varying degrees. Seeking a reward in a relationship (e.g., intimacy), is very different from avoiding a punishment (e.g., lack of intimacy). Since reward seeking and punishment avoiding behavior will be different, each person will respond to a conflict by either avoiding a problem or seeking a solution, which results in a specific communication pattern. The main purpose of this study is to examine if behavioral approach (BAS) and behavioral avoidance (BIS) are related to whether or not someone displays Exit, Voice, Loyalty, or Neglect in romantic relationships. I hypothesize that a more active approach system will be associated with more constructive and active communication patterns (i.e. Voice), and that a more active inhibition system will be associated with more deconstructive and passive communication patterns (i.e. Neglect).

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