Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Communication Studies

Department or School/College

Department of Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Alan Sillars

Commitee Members

Luke Conway, Stephen Yoshimura


conflict, deception, disclosure, interpersonal perception, interpersonal relationships, relationship rules


University of Montana


The purpose of this study is to investigate the implications of relationship rule consensus over the meanings of honesty and deception in romantic relationships. Relationship rules are implicit understandings developed over time that guide individuals’ behavior in relationships, but they are often ambiguous and unspoken. Honesty and deception rules are particularly vulnerable to different interpretations given that honesty is held to such high esteem, yet deception is common in relationships. Since deception becomes a salient source of conflict when discovered, coordination of these rules should be linked to relational quality. In part one of the study, in-depth interviews helped identify what rules individuals supported in their relationships, which were incorporated into a survey taken by couples in part two. The survey assessed direct and meta-perspectives on the rules, as well as conflict and satisfaction. The results supported many of the findings from previous interpersonal perception studies: couples perceived agreement more than they agreed on the rules, and they agreed to a greater extent than they understood one another’s perspectives. Additionally, perceived agreement, agreement, and understanding were all linked to relational quality (i.e., higher satisfaction and lower conflict). A unique finding was that when rules were categorized as either rigid (absolute) or flexible (contingent), the rigid rules were both endorsed more in relationships and linked to conflict to a greater extent than the flexible rules.



© Copyright 2011 Katlyn Elise Roggensack