Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Peter Martin


The purpose of the present study was to investigate gender and age differences in dealing with a romantic relationship breakup, as well as to investigate the role that distal (childhood events and childhood attachment) and proximal (personality, perceived stress, coping, and adult attachment) influence one's adjustment to an ended romantic relationship. Participants for this study included 252 (160 women and 92 men) college students, with age ranges from 18 to 39. Two (Age) X Two (Gender) analyses of covariance were computed to assess mean differences for all variables. Women reported higher Neuroticism, Extraversion, and Agreeableness scores than men, whereas men displayed higher levels of Openness to Experience than did women. Regarding coping, women utilized (on average) more instrumental support than did men. Men experienced significantly more life events during the period from sixth to eighth grade than did women. In addition, regarding total life events, older female students had the fewest childhood life events whereas older male students had the highest numbers of childhood life events. Multiple regression analyses were then used to determine the influence of eight covariates on relationship termination adjustment (RTA). One covariate, commitment to the former relationship, was a significant predictor of the three measures of RTA (grief, disentanglement, and self-worth). Finally, structural equation modeling was used. Five structural models (each utilizing one of the five traits (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness) measured by the NEO-FFI were compared regarding the respective model's ability to most comprehensively explain and predict RTA. Of these five models, the Neuroticism structural model of RTA had a good fit (CFI = .98) to the data and provided the most significant pathways relevant to the developmental outcome (RTA) of all the models computed. Based on this model, multiple group comparisons regarding both gender and age were performed to determine if these variables act as moderators in RTA. In both comparisons, neither gender nor age acted as a moderator regarding how one deals with an ended relationship. Future research needs to examine the developmental trajectories involved in adjusting to an ended romantic relationship.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Robert Bruce Hensley



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

185 pages