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Striking the perfect match : preferences for a partner as predictors of relationship initiation and quality.

Goodwin, Robin B (1989) Striking the perfect match : preferences for a partner as predictors of relationship initiation and quality. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94378) (KAR id:94378)


What motivates people to form heterosexual relationships, and how can the partner they will choose be predicted? Which factors are involved in determining marital quality?

This thesis describes a number of experiments designed to address these questions. In the introductory chapters (chapters 1-3) the personal relationships literature is reviewed selectively, and two frameworks for examining relationship formation and quality are developed. The fundamental theme in these frameworks is that fulfilment of interpersonal desires is a predictor of the type of partner chosen for a relationship and the subsequent quality of that relationship, and that these desires can be measured by ascertaining an individual's preferences for a partner type or his/her preferences concerning a particular behaviour within a relationship. Various other factors also interact with or depend upon this variable of 'preference fulfilment': these include social skills and attitudes towards relationships (thought to be important predictors of relationship formation), and role fulfilment and relationship alternatives (hypothesised to be crucial in determining relationship quality). These two frameworks are examined in a series of seven empirical studies. In part 11 of the thesis, two longitudinal studies on University students/supermarket shoppers and on dating agency members were conducted. Results indicate that preference fulfilment is a moderate predictor of the relationship partner chosen, but that other factors (e.g. self-esteem) may also be important. In part III, three cross-sectional studies are conducted using (a) couples who met through a dating agency (b) a random group of Kent couples and (c) a sample of Uruguyian partnerships. The results indicated that relationship alternatives and role interactions are important determinants of relationship quality, but that preference fulfilment plays only a small part in determining such quality. The final chapter draws these results together and considers alternative explanations before exploring the implications of the findings.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94378
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Personal relationships, Social psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2023 11:13 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2023 11:13 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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