Trait-specific dependence in romantic relationships.

Bruce J. Ellis, Jeffry A. Simpson, Lorne Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Informed by three theoretical frameworks--trait psychology, evolutionary psychology, and interdependence theory--we report four investigations designed to develop and test the reliability and validity of a new construct and accompanying multiscale inventory, the Trait-Specific Dependence Inventory (TSDI). The TSDI assesses comparisons between present and alternative romantic partners on major dimensions of mate value. In Study 1, principal components analyses revealed that the provisional pool of theory-generated TSDI items were represented by six factors: Agreeable/Committed, Resource Accruing Potential, Physical Prowess, Emotional Stability, Surgency, and Physical Attractiveness. In Study 2, confirmatory factor analysis replicated these results on a different sample and tested how well different structural models fit the data. Study 3 provided evidence for the convergent and discriminant validity of the six TSDI scales by correlating each one with a matched personality trait scale that did not explicitly incorporate comparisons between partners. Study 4 provided further validation evidence, revealing that the six TSDI scales successfully predicted three relationship outcome measures--love, time investment, and anger/upset--above and beyond matched sets of traditional personality trait measures. These results suggest that the TSDI is a reliable, valid, and unique construct that represents a new trait-specific method of assessing dependence in romantic relationships. The construct of trait-specific dependence is introduced and linked with other theories of mate value.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-659
Number of pages49
JournalJournal of personality
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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