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Lydon, J., Pierce, T., & O'Regan, S.(1997). Coping with moral commitment to long distance dating relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 104-113.



The uncertainty of relationship transitions should elicit more elaborate cognitive processing about one's relationship. As a result, reports of a type of relationship commitment distinctive from satisfaction—moral commitment—might be obtained from those about to begin long distance relationships. Students assessed prior to the academic year reported 2 types of commitment: moral and enthusiastic. Moral commitment was highly correlated with the meaning of the relationship and investment in the relationship, whereas enthusiastic commitment was highly correlated with satisfaction. Moral (but not enthusiastic) commitment predicted the subsequent survival of the relationship. Moral commitment also predicted appraisals of increased investment in and meaning of the relationship by the end of the term. Finally, moral commitment predicted negative affect and illness symptoms for those whose relationships ended. For people remaining in relationships, a new construct of moral burden emerged at Time 2. Burden was related to relationship dissatisfaction and stress and predicted the initiation of a subsequent breakup.

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