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The effects of mutuality patterns on depression, loneliness, shame, silencing -the -self, relationship satisfaction, and attitudes towards counseling

Marciana Crothers, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Self-in-relation theory is used as a framework to guide the examination of mutuality in this study. Mutuality provides a sense of emotional connection in a close relationship (Jordan, Kaplan, Stiver, & Surrey, 1991). Specifically, to experience relational mutuality, each person must show interest, cognitive awareness, and responsivity to the subjective experience of the other. Furthermore, mutuality requires that each person be willing and able to reveal and explore his or her inner states, thoughts, feelings, and needs (Jordan, 1991a). ^ Four questions guided the study. First, do individuals who experience more mutuality in their closest friendship than in their romantic relationship feel less satisfied than individuals with the opposite pattern? Second, given the importance of mutuality to the client/therapist relationship and the formation of the therapeutic alliance, is there a relationship between high mutuality in one's current relationships and satisfaction with previous counseling? Third, can the level of mutuality in current relationships be used to predict attitudes towards counseling? Fourth, which of the negative experiences associated with low mutuality relationships would individuals seek counseling for? ^ The results indicate that men and women report different mutuality patterns. Specifically, men are equally split between higher romantic than friendship mutuality (mutuality pattern 1) and higher friendship than romantic mutuality (mutuality pattern 2) while the majority of women report higher friendship mutuality than romantic mutuality (mutuality pattern 2). Mutuality pattern 2 is associated with higher levels of depression, shame, silencing-the-self, divided-self, and relationship dissatisfaction than mutuality pattern 1. Men report significantly higher levels of depression, silencing-the-self, divided-self, and loneliness than women, and it appears as though women experience benefits from their high mutuality friendships that compensate for the negative effects of low mutuality romances. High mutuality relationships are related to positive attitudes towards seeking professional psychological help and effective discussions of personal problems, but are unrelated to satisfaction with previous counseling. Individuals are likely to seek therapy for depression and unlikely to seek therapy for silencing-the-self issues. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Crothers, Marciana, "The effects of mutuality patterns on depression, loneliness, shame, silencing -the -self, relationship satisfaction, and attitudes towards counseling" (2001). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3022624.