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An examination of the importance of compassionate love and self-esteem for engaging in relationship repair behaviour

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posted on 2023-01-19, 10:38 authored by Anna Zapral
Submission note: A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology to the School of Psychological Science, Faculty of Science, Technology, and Engineering, La Trobe University, Bundoora.

This thesis examined the association of compassionate love and self-esteem with engagement in positive interactions following conflict in a romantic relationship. Repair behaviour occurs when there is engagement in behaviour that encourages resolution during a conflict, such as acting in a way to strengthen the relationship, or not viewing the partner negatively. This research is an extension of work investigating the association of self-esteem and interactions in romantic relationships and the relatively new field of compassionate love. Two on-line studies were completed, with results indicating that repair behaviour is influenced by compassionate love and self-esteem. Both studies were completed by male and female participants who were currently in a romantic relationship, representing a broad sample of the population. The first study (N = 300) investigated how people responded to conflict within their romantic relationships, and also whether compassionate love had a moderator effect between self-esteem and repair behaviour. Results suggested that high selfesteem and high compassionate love results in a greater likelihood to engage in repair behaviour following a conflict. Compassionate love was not found to moderate between selfesteem and repair behaviour. The second study (N = 486) included an experimental manipulation, via a hypothetical conflict scenario, to which participants responded while thinking either of themselves or of an imagined partner. The hypothesis that compassionate love can be primed, with the technique used in this study, was not supported. Results from both studies identified the importance of demonstrating compassionate love for one's partner in order to engage in repair behaviour following a conflict, as well as the importance of possessing high implicit self-esteem. This has clinical implications for couples therapy, as compassionate love may help to overcome possible destructive reactions in behaviours during conflict in a romantic relationship.


Center or Department

Faculty of Science, Technology, and Engineering. School of Psychological Science.

Thesis type

  • Doctorate

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


Rights Statement

This thesis contains third party copyright material which has been reproduced here with permission. Any further use requires permission of the copyright owner. The thesis author retains all proprietary rights (such as copyright and patent rights) over all other content of this thesis, and has granted La Trobe University permission to reproduce and communicate this version of the thesis. The author has declared that any third party copyright material contained within the thesis made available here is reproduced and communicated with permission. If you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact us with the details.

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