Relational turbulence during the COVID-19 pandemic: A longitudinal analysis of the reciprocal effects between relationship characteristics and outcomes of relational turbulence

Hannah E. Jones, Jennifer A. Theiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study offers a longitudinal and dyadic test of relational turbulence theory during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, this study highlights the severity of irritations and the aggressiveness and openness of relational communication as outcomes of relational turbulence that both shape and reflect relationship characteristics during this transition. Romantic dyads (N = 151) completed four weekly surveys during the pandemic’s early stages. We used multilevel modeling to document between- and within-person effects and evaluate reciprocal effects over time. Results indicated that relational uncertainty and partner interference were positively associated with relational turbulence, whereas partner facilitation was negatively associated with turbulence. Relational turbulence was positively associated with the severity of irritations and the aggressiveness of communication, and negatively associated with the openness of communication, above and beyond the effects of the relationship mechanisms. Over-time analyses showed that relational turbulence, severity of irritations, aggressive communication, and open communication predicted subsequent levels of relationship qualities. These findings showcase the theoretical utility of relational turbulence theory for explaining how relationships are affected by the pandemic and highlight relationship processes to target in helping couples manage their relationship during these stressful times.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3033-3058
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Volume38
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

Keywords

  • Aggression
  • COVID-19
  • interdependence
  • irritations
  • openness
  • relational turbulence
  • relational uncertainty

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