Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dr. Paul Wright
During the past twenty years, heterosexual relationships have been studied extensively by researchers in the field of interpersonal attraction without the attainment of consistent results (Wright, 1968). Wright (1968) stated that there were two methodological problems with this past research which are the treatment of variables used to explain attraction as both the independent and dependent variables in the same study and the use of dyadic indices. Also, Wright (1969) noted that past research has generally not examined heterosexual relationships separately for each sex. Finally, Guinsburg (1970a) found that most research dealing with heterosexual relationships has only examined the "romantic" relationship. However, over 1400 undergraduates at one university had "platonic" heterosexual relationships (Guinsburg, 1970a, b, c).
The present study was concerned with the specification and operationalization of variables connected with the "platonic" and "romantic" heterosexual relationship for each sex. This would allow for the determination of variables important to the different forms of "platonic" and "romantic" relationships (close to distant relationships). An attempt was made to avoid the mistakes made in previous research.
The following methodology was used: (1) Each subject was asked to describe a particular type of heterosexual relationship ranging from "close platonic" and "close romantic" to "distant platonic" and "distant romantic" relationships. Eight different types of heterosexual relationships were used and it was arranged so that there would be an equal number of subjects for each sex describing each type of heterosexual relationship. (2) A "Validation Index Questionnaire" was created and used to gain outside validation criteria about each of the relationships being described. . (3) Wright's (1971) "Acquaintance Description Form" was used to allow subjects to describe further their heterosexual relationship in terms of items found to be relevant characteristics of same sex friends. (4) Subjects filled out the "Opposite Sex Friendship Questionnaire Form Mor F" so as to allow for the scaling of items dealing with "platonic" heterosexual relationships by a population describing eight types of heterosexual relationships.
The results indicated that there was a continuous distribution of responses to all except one of the items from the three questionnaires. Then, for each sex, subjects were divided into two groups. The first group consisted of subjects who were describing a "platonic" or "semi-platonic" relationship and the second group consisted of subjects describing "romantic" and "semi-romantic" relationships~' A-factor analysis was run separately for each sex on each of the two groups of subject descriptions dealing with either "romantic" or "platonic" relationships. The factors were interpreted for both the "platonic" and the "romantic" groups, and comparisons were made between the factors of the "romantic" and "platonic" group for males ·and females. Also, comparisons were made between males and females concerning the "platonic" and the "romantic" groups.
From this study the following conclusions may be.drawn about heterosexual relationships.
1. Males and females describe the "platonic" relationship as differing from the "romantic" relationship because the "platonic" relationship lacks the emotional closeness and comfort of the "romantic" relationship.
2. Females saw.the "platonic" relationship as important for communication about personal problems, while males saw it as important for casual dating activities.
3. Only females saw the "romantic" relationship as more important to them than the "platonic" relationship.
4. The male.focuses on the various qualities and characteristics of .the "romantic" girl friend while the female stresses her emotional involvement in the relationship and its .importance to her.
5. Females generally express more emotional and intellectual involvement in the "romantic" relationship than males.
Guinsburg, Philip F., "An Investigation of the Components of Platonic and Romantic Heterosexual Relationships" (1973). Theses and Dissertations. 981.