Adolescents' relational schemas and their subjective understanding of romantic relationship interactions

Justin D. Smith*, Deborah P. Welsh, Paula J. Fite

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This study examines the association between adolescents' relational schemas and their subjective understanding of interactions in the context of male-female romantic relationships. We employed an innovative multimodal methodology: the video-recall system [Welsh, D. P., & Dickson, J. W. (2005). Video-recall procedures for examining subjective understanding in observational data. Journal of Family Psychology, 19(1), 62-71], which includes both adolescent participants' perspectives, as well as those of trained coders. Dyadic structural equation modeling (SEM) with latent variables was used to examine two dependent variables: Discomfort and Power. Relational schemas were only associated with the participants' interpretation of Discomfort, and did not differ by gender. The association between relational schemas and Power were different by gender, suggesting males and females with more vulnerable relational schemas may employ different strategies to cope with their insecurity. Males' relational schemas were also associated with the observers' interpretations of Power for both couple members. Possible implications of this finding for attachment theory and adolescent romantic relationships are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-157
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Attachment
  • Observational
  • Relational schemas
  • Romantic relationships
  • Subjective understanding
  • Video-recall procedure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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