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Do frequent movers depend more on their romantic partners? Residential mobility, centrality of partners, and psychological well-being

Yılmaz, Cansu
Growing number of psychology studies on residential mobility in the past decade has focused mostly on the effects of residential mobility on the self-concept, social relations, and psychological well-being (Oishi, 2010). The present dissertation is the first to examine residential mobility in the context of romantic relationships. The present studies tested the hypotheses that marital (or long-term romantic) relationships play a more central role in frequent (vs. infrequent) movers’ social networks and they serve as stronger predictors of personal well-being. These hypotheses were tested in three studies with large lifespan samples of adults. Study 1 investigated whether frequent residential change in the past would predict stronger attachment to romantic partners. Higher residential mobility predicted greater prioritization of marital (or long-term romantic) relationships over other social ties for meeting attachment needs. Study 2 investigated whether residential mobility predicts preference for spouse over mother. Frequent movers reported lower feelings of obligation to help their mother, which, in turn, predicted their preference to save their spouse (vs. mother) in a hypothetical life-or-death situation. Study 3 investigated whether residential mobility moderates the association between perceived partner responsiveness and well-being. The association between perceived partner responsiveness and psychological well-being was stronger among frequent (vs. infrequent) movers. This moderation was accounted by frequent movers’ lower face-to-face contact with family and close friend networks. Overall, present studies demonstrated, for the first time, the associations of residential mobility with marital (or long-term romantic) relationship processes and the mechanisms underlying these associations.