The Effects of Sacrifice Types and Motives on Romantic Relationship Quality

Brent A. Mattingly


Research has shown that willingness to sacrifice is positively associated with relationship satisfaction and commitment. However, few studies have investigated whether type of sacrifice (active vs. passive) or motives for sacrifice (approach vs. avoidance) impact relational variables. In the current study, type of and motives for sacrifice were experimentally primed and satisfaction, quality of alternatives, investment size, and commitment were measured. Results indicated that active (but not passive) sacrifice led individuals to perceive their quality of alternatives as more attractive. Motives for sacrificing were unrelated to relationship perceptions. Additionally, type of sacrifice and motives for sacrificing show no interactive effects. 

Full Text:



Agnew, C. R., & Etcheverry, P. E. (2006). Cognitive interdependence: Considering self-in-relationship. In K. D. Vohs & E. J. Finkel (Eds.), Self and relationships: Connecting intrapersonal and interpersonal processes (pp. 274-293). New York: Guilford Press.

Agnew, C. R., Van Lange, P. A. M., Rusbult, C. E., & Langston, C. A. (1998). Cognitive interdependence: Commitment and the mental representations of close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 939-954.

Cahn, D. D. (1990). Intimates in conflict: A research review. In D. D. Cahn (Ed.), Intimates in conflict: A communication perspective (pp. 1-22). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Cahn, D. D. (1992). Conflict in intimate relationships. New York: Guilford Press.

Etcheverry, P. E., & Le, B. (2005). Thinking about commitment: Accessibility of commitment and prediction of relationship persistence, accommodation, and willingness to sacrifice. Personal Relationships, 12, 103-123.

Impett, E. A., Gable, S. L., & Peplau, L. A. (2005). Giving up and giving in: The costs and benefits of daily sacrifice in intimate relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 327-344.

Le, B., & Agnew, C. R. (2003). Commitment and its theoretical determinants: A meta-analysis of the Investment Model. Personal Relationships, 10, 37-57.

Mattingly, B. A., & Clark, E. M. (2008). The role of conflict specific factors on willingness to sacrifice: Is selflessness conditional? Manuscript submitted for publication.

Peterson, D. R. (1983). Conflict. In H. H. Kelley, E. Berscheid, A. Christensen, J. H. Harvey, T. L. Huston, G. Levinger, E. McClintock. L. A. Peplau, & D. R. Peterson (Eds.), Close relationships (pp. 360-396). New York: W. H. Freeman.

Powell, C., & Van Vugt, M. (2003). Genuine giving or selfish sacrifice? The role of commitment and cost level upon willingness to sacrifice. European Journal of Social Psychology, 33, 403-412.

Rubin, J. Z., Pruitt, D. G., & Kim, S. H. (1994). Social conflict: Escalation, stalemate, and settlement (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Rusbult, C. E. (1980). Commitment and satisfaction in romantic associations: A test of the investment model. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 16, 172-186.

Rusbult, C. E., Martz, J. M., & Agnew, C. R. (1998). The Investment Model scale: Measuring commitment level, satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size. Personal Relationships, 5, 357-391.

Rusbult, C. E., Olson, N., Davis, J. L., & Hannon, M. A. (2001). Commitment and relationship maintenance mechanisms. In J. M. Harvey & A. E. Wenzel (Eds.), Close romantic relationships: Maintenance and enhancement (pp. 87-113). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Rusbult, C. E., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (1996). Interdependence processes. In E. T. Higgins & A. W. Kruglanski (Eds.), Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles (pp. 564-596). New York: Guilford Press.

Van Lange, P. A. M., Agnew, C. R., Harinck, F., & Steemers, G. E. M. (1997). From game theory to real life: How social value orientation affects willingness to sacrifice in ongoing close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(6), 1330-1344.

Van Lange, P. A. M., Rusbult, C. E., Drigotas, S. M., Arriaga, X. M., Witcher, B. S., & Cox, C. L.(1997). Willingness to sacrifice in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 1373-1395.

Wieselquist, J., Rusbult, C. E., Foster, C. A., & Agnew, C. R. (1999). Commitment, pro-relationship behavior, and trust in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 942-966.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 The New School Psychology Bulletin

© The New School Psychology Bulletin |