Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Paul L. Wienir

Second Advisor

Dr. Herbert Smith

Third Advisor

Dr. Paul Yelsma

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Ninety-nine heterosexual couples were surveyed to test the exchange theory hypothesis that interpersonal power and relative dependency are inversely related in dyadic relationships. Controlling for gender, this hypothesis was examined through a path analysis for each of six groups: the overall population, dating couples, engaged couples, cohabiting couples, married couples, and couples treated as a single unit. Results indicate that males are reported as relatively more powerful than females, and this gender effect is found to increase with the permanence of the relationship. Relative dependency has effects on power which also vary according to the type of relationship. Self-reported "subjective dependency" was inversely related to power for all subgroups. "Objective dependency," which is the exchange formulation of dependency, was either not significantly related to power or, in some cases, was directly related. Thus, perhaps the exchange theory of power and dependency needs revision as applied to intimate heterosexual relationships.

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