Commitment, pro-relationship behavior, and trust in close relationships

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1999 Nov;77(5):942-66. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.77.5.942.


The present work advances and tests an interdependence-based model of the associations among commitment, pro-relationship behavior, and trust. Findings from two longitudinal studies revealed good support for model predictions. Commitment-inspired acts such as accommodation and willingness to sacrifice provide diagnostic information regarding a partner's pro-relationship motives. Individuals come to trust their partners when they perceive that their partners have enacted pro-relationship behaviors, departing from their direct self-interest for the good of the relationship. The results of mediation analyses are consistent with a model of mutual cyclical growth in which (a) dependence promotes strong commitment, (b) commitment promotes pro-relationship acts, (c) pro-relationship acts are perceived by the partner, (d) the perception of pro-relationship acts enhances the partner's trust, and (e) trust increases the partner's willingness to become dependent on the relationship. Auxiliary analyses revealed that self-reported attachment style does not account for substantial variance beyond the features of interdependence that form the basis for the present model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Courtship*
  • Dependency, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marriage*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sampling Studies
  • Self Concept*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires