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A Behavioral Examination of Complementarity and Specialization

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Author: Nelson, Laura Virginia
Advisor: Pilkington, Constance
Committee Members: Vishton, Peter; Carboni, Inga
Issued Date: 2010-05-17
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/2030
Description: In order to decrease competition and protect positive self-evaluation, people in romantic relationships will display complementarity, in which they cede performance areas that are high-relevance to one person and low in relevance to the other person to the high-relevance person. In performance domains that are high-relevance to both people within a couple, they display specialization, in which the domain is divided into sub-domains that are equally allocated within the couple. Previous research has used surveys and self-reports to observe these mechanisms. The purpose of this study was to observe specialization in romantic couples in a laboratory setting through the use of a version of Trivial Pursuit. Specialization and complementarity were not observed when the behavior of the romantic couples was compared to stranger pairs. However, gender effects as well as love and liking levels towards the partner were also correlated with frequency of complementarity. Future adjustments to Trivial Pursuit in order to encourage specialization were also considered as well as future directions for studying complementarity and specialization.
Degree: Bachelors of Science in Psychology

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