Testing the Romantic Construal Model: The Impact of Personalization, Specialness, and Value in Evaluating Romantic Actions

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The Romantic Construal Model proposes that people interpret actions as romantic to the extent that they perceive that those actions take the receiver’s idiosyncratic likes and dislikes into account (personalization), are out of the ordinary in terms of either frequency or the manner with which they are enacted (specialness), and convey that the person values the receiver and the relationship (conveyed value). This model was tested in two studies.

In Study 1, 132 participants (67 men and 65 women) were instructed to modify generic behaviors to make them either more or less romantic. These modifications were then coded for personalization, specialness, and conveyed value. The results showed that higher mean levels of personalization, specialness, and value were found when participants were asked to make a behavior more rather than less romantic. Furthermore, regression analyses predicting participant ratings of romance for the modified actions were significantly predicted by the levels of specialness and conveyed value, but personalization was not related to romantic ratings.

In Study 2, 132 participants (67 men and 65 women) read 8 vignettes describing potentially romantic behaviors that experimentally manipulated all combinations of high or low personalization, high or low specialness and high or low conveyed value. Participants rated each vignette for how romantic they thought the behavior was; the degree to which the behavior was personalized, special, and conveyed value; and how good, committed, and loved would they feel if their partner enacted that behavior in their relationship. The results of Study 2 showed that although personalization and specialness were successfully manipulated in the vignettes, value was not. Furthermore, significant effects of personalization and specialness, but not value, were obtained on romantic ratings for half of the vignettes. In contrast, participants’ subjective ratings of the romanticness of the behaviors were predicted by their ratings of value but not personalization or specialness. The implications of this study for the Romantic Construal Model are discussed and evaluated within the context of previous findings on the communication of affection





Estrada, Marie-Joelle (2010). Testing the Romantic Construal Model: The Impact of Personalization, Specialness, and Value in Evaluating Romantic Actions. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/2275.


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