Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Communication Studies

Department or School/College

Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Christina Yoshimura

Commitee Members

Dr. Stephen Yoshimura, Dr. Craig McFarland


attribution theory, hurtful messages, bipolar disorder, romantic relationships


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Interpersonal and Small Group Communication


This study explores hurtful messages received by individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder I/II from their romantic partners. Close romantic relationships present opportunities for the utterance of hurtful messages, and the stigmatization that accompanies a mental health diagnosis could affect the attributions made surrounding hurtful messages. By applying attribution theory, the current study increases understanding of how individuals with bipolar disorder experience and attribute hurtful messages. Participants (N = 99) were adults diagnosed with bipolar disorder who had received a hurtful message from their romantic partner. Data was collected via online surveys comprised of Likert scales and short answer questions. Five hurtful message types emerged: assessment, admonition, rejection, minimization, and miscellaneous. Participants reported a significant positive relationship between self-stigma harm and context-specific attribution (r = .263, p < .01). Additionally, a significant positive relationship between context-specific attributions and hurtful message severity emerged (r = .273, p < .01). Results of this study enhance current knowledge about how individuals make context-specific attributions for hurtful messages they receive from a romantic partner, offer a focus specifically on the experience of romantic relationships for individuals with bipolar disorder, and offer various theoretical and practical implications.



© Copyright 2018 Callie Parrish