Drawing upon construal level theory (CLT) and relational turbulence theory (RTT), two studies developed and assessed three operationalizations of relational construal level, defined as how concretely or abstractly people conceptualize their romantic relationship, and evaluated relational construal level as a mediator of the associations between relational turbulence and supportiveness, collaborative planning, and social network engagement using data reported by individuals in romantic relationships. In Study 1 (N = 405), preference for abstract versus concrete descriptions of relational activities and tendency to make extreme versus neutral judgments about a partner demonstrated desirable measurement properties and negative associations with relational turbulence, as predicted. A third measure indexing the accessibility of relational judgments was associated with neither relational turbulence nor the other measures of relational construal level. Study 2 used a more ethnically diverse sample (N = 414; Asian: n = 103, Black: n = 105, Hispanic: n = 102, White: n = 104) and identified preference for abstract versus concrete descriptions of relational activities as the most robust operationalization of relational construal level. Specifically, this measure was negatively associated with relational turbulence and mediated the associations between relational turbulence and supportiveness, collaborative planning, and social network engagement, as predicted by RTT.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science