Romantic partner communication about weight management: impact of personal and relational characteristics on message interpretation and health attitude outcomes

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Richards, Andrea Ann

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Guided by a conceptual framework regarding how supportive messages interpreted as negatively controlling are related to individuals’ relational health and weight management efforts, this research explored participants’ interpretations of their romantic partner’s weight management messages in a two-phase study. In phase one, college students were presented with a sample of supportive weight management messages. Participants were asked to describe the degree to which each message communicated support and negative control as well as respond to items concerning their personal and relational characteristics. In phase two, participants were asked to report a memorable weight management message they received from their current romantic partner. These messages were then assessed for their degree of support and negative control by the participant. Additionally, students responded to measures concerning how perceptions of their health attitude and relational qualities changed after receiving the message. Results from phase one indicated that readiness to change, body esteem, external and internal locus of control, history of received support, and level of relational distress were all significant predictors of interpreting a supportive weight management message as negatively controlling. Phase two results indicated that perceived negative control in a partner’s weight management message is a significant predictor of perceived level of trust in their relationship, weight management commitment, exercise self-efficacy, diet self-efficacy, and perceived negative change in relational quality. The relevance of perceived negative control for relational functioning and health attitudes is discussed.



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