Relationship satisfaction in dating relationships and same-sex friendships: a comparison and integration of Equity Theory and Attachment Theory
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Past research has found support for Equity Theory and Attachment Theory in predicting relationship satisfaction. According to Equity Theory, individuals feel satisfied when they are engaged in equitable relationships, where the ratio of benefits to costs is the same across partners. On the other hand, Attachment Theory postulates that a secure attachment style predicts high relationship satisfaction. Although an extensive number of studies have supported these predictions, the present study was the first to compare or integrate Equity Theory and Attachment Theory in predicting relationship satisfaction. A total of 384 introductory psychology students completed questionnaires. Simultaneous multiple regression indicated that partner’s input and the avoidance dimension of attachment were the two largest predictors of relationship satisfaction among overall sample. Hypotheses regarding the relation between equity level and attachment styles were only partially supported. In addition, three proposed models for predicting satisfaction were tested. The first model, based on Equity Theory, showed that underbenefiting exchange orientation, communal orientation, and closeness predicted the level of equity, which in turn led to relationship satisfaction. The second model, based on Attachment Theory, indicated that attachment styles affected the level of self-disclosure leading to intimacy and closeness, which predicted satisfaction. The third model integrated the two theories and showed that attachment styles predicted equity, which influenced the level of self-disclosure. Self-disclosure influenced intimacy and closeness, which led to relationship satisfaction. The integrated model best predicted relationship satisfaction among the three proposed models. Finally, sex differences and differences between friendships and dating relationships were also discussed.