Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Dr. Constance Pilkington

Committee Members

Dr. Jackson Sasser

Dr. Meaghan Stiman

Dr. Joanna Schug


A sample of 24 couples (N = 24) participated in the present two-part study investigating whether the Self-Evaluation Maintenance (SEM) process of specialization in romantic couples is affected by differences in individual psychological traits. In the first portion, couples worked collaboratively on one questionnaire to generate performance domains and subdomains of varying relevance, as well as rate which partner had more expertise. Couple conversations during this portion were recorded (with consent) to qualitatively assess the process of specialization in romantic couples. In the second portion, individual partners completed a questionnaire assessing the aforementioned psychological traits. Results suggested that couples evenly distribute subdomain expertise when the performance domain is highly relevant to both partners. There were no significant effects of any psychological variables on the process of specialization. Qualitative data suggested that couples differed in their approach to generation of subdomains, which related to how partners conversed with each other when allocating expertise. Results are discussed within the context of the SEM literature, and implications for the model and directions for future research are considered.