The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is performing a study that focuses on young adults who are involved in relationships, and how influenced their relationship is by what they grew up with in their household.
Dana Weiser, the assistant professor of Human Development and Family Studies, is in charge of conducting this research and gathering the data from students.
The purpose of this study, Weiser said, is to see how young adults in relationships tend to mirror the relationships they viewed from their parents while they were growing up.
Weiser has students come in and take a survey on their own relationship, she said, then asks the students to send an invitation to their parents to fill out a survey in order to compare and contrast the results of both child and parent.
“We have seen similar patterns in other research I have done and research done by others that overall, people tend to recreate the patterns they grew up with,” Weiser said, “and we can see that in terms of conflict, parenting style and communication.”
Weiser said her main focus with this study is if any student had parents involved with divorce and if it has affected the student in any way with their own relationship.
Since divorce is one of her main focuses with this study, Weiser has asked to take surveys from heterosexual couples between the ages of 18 and 25.
Weiser said each gender tends to have similar patterns in relationships, especially if divorce is in their past.
“Research shows that we often recreate our family patterns and one of the most well-documented phenomenon in family studies is an intergenerational transmission of divorce,” Weiser said. “We see that individuals whose parents divorced have a greater tendency of divorcing themselves. With my research, I want to look at this more broadly with different experiences with young adults.”
One of her main focuses with researching divorce is to see if a parent was involved in infidelity at some point in time, she said.
“I mainly am interested in studying how observing certain events in their parents' relationship shape young adults' beliefs about romantic relationships and how these beliefs may influence young adults' own behaviors,” she said.
Cristin Cash, a junior business major from Houston, said she has been involved with her boyfriend for over a year.
She would be interested in this survey, she said, because she does have many similarities with her parents’ relationship.
“My dad is very loving towards my mom and does anything for her in order for her to be happy,” Cash said, “and I feel I have that in my relationship.”
Cash feels her current relationship is strong as well, she said, because her parents are still together and have a strong marriage.
Natalie Chapman, a senior restaurant hotel and management major from Dallas, said her relationship mirrors her parents in many ways, but also has some differences.
“Although my boyfriend and father have many differences, they have almost an identical personality and sense of humor,” Chapman said. “I see a lot of similarities in the things that we do as to what my parents do.”
Chapman constantly finds herself looking for things in a partner that she sees in her dad, she said, since he has set an important example of how men should treat women.
Chapman also said she would be interested in learning more about this survey.
They have a follow-up survey with the students a year after they have filled out the first survey, Weiser said, to see if they are still involved in their former relationship or if things have changed much.
Since this research study has been going on for some time, Weiser said, they have a lot of data that has still not been analyzed yet.
Thirty more students have signed up to participate and Weiser said she is hoping hundreds more will participate throughout the year.