Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Erin K Ruppel

Committee Members

Erin Parcell, Mike Allen, Lindsay Timmerman


computer-mediated communication, expectancy violations theory, relational quality, romantic relationships


Due to the complexity of romantic relationships and the integration of new communication technologies into relationship maintenance, the present study uses expectancy violations theory (EVT) to examine expectations, expectancy violations, and the changing expectations of romantic couples when using computer-mediated communication (CMC; i.e., social media websites, email, text messaging, etc.). Additionally, the study investigates the impact of changing expectations on relational quality. Twenty-five individuals were interviewed using a semi-structured interview protocol. The interviews were analyzed according to Braun and Clarke’s (2006) six-step approach for thematic analysis. Narrative and in-vivo coding were used to identify themes in participants’ responses. Themes regarding behavioral expectations for CMC included: (a) a response, (b) clear communication, (c) task-oriented versus relational messages and (d) respect. Regarding expectancy violations, themes included: (a) lack of communication, (b) disrespect, (c) sharing/posting as a violation, (d) affectionate messages. Additionally, the ability to discuss expectations with a romantic partner was positively associated with relational quality. Findings uncovered that committed relationships allow for more communication about expectations and changes in expectations. Practical implications, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.

Included in

Communication Commons