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Couple Involvement and Network Structure: A Test of the Dyadic Withdrawal Hypothesis

Michael P. Johnson and Leigh Leslie
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 45, No. 1 (Mar., 1982), pp. 34-43
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3033672
Page Count: 10
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Couple Involvement and Network Structure: A Test of the Dyadic Withdrawal Hypothesis
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Abstract

A number of theorists have argued that increased romantic involvement of a couple with each other necessarily leads to decreased involvement with other members of their social network. A critical analysis of those arguments suggests that the withdrawal process is socially defined rather than existentially necessary, and selective rather than universal. Data are presented on network structure for a sample of 419 university students involved in relationships ranging from occasional dating through marriage. The results indicate that as couples become more romantically involved, their friendship networks shrink and they become less involved with those friends who remain in the network. Kin networks do not shrink, although the variance in number of kin listed increases dramatically at engagement and again at marriage. Results are discussed in terms of the interpersonal construction of definitions of relationships and the networks in which they are embedded.

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