Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Science




Campbell, Lorne


Trust, a fundamental principle upon which social relationships are predicated, is axiomatically thought to develop for someone by virtue of time spent and past experiences with that someone. However, existing data suggest that trust for a romantic partner already manifests at unvaryingly high quantities from the earliest stages of the relationship onward. Via measurement modelling, we investigated the extent to which the construction of trust – harkening to the intra-psychic entity itself, rather than the measured quantity – varies and addresses different psychological meaning at different stages of romantic relationships. Across two studies (Study 1, N = 464; Study 2, N = 847), we reclaimed a measurement model germane to Rempel et al.’s (1985) seminal framework of trust and found that the measurement model varied across individuals in newly-formed relationships and individuals in long-term relationships. Our findings garnered insight into the nature of trust and shed new light on potential divergences in the construction of trust across romantic relationship development.

Summary for Lay Audience

Trust – central to the very solidity and flourishing of any social relationship – is traditionally believed to develop for another person as more time gets spent and more experiences are had with that person. However, the existing data seem to suggest that even from the earliest stages of the relationship, and through to the deeper stages, people report having excessively high amounts of trust for their romantic partner. In the present research, we use measurement modelling to explore an account of trust that frames development of trust for a romantic partner in terms divergences in the fundamental meaning of trust, rather than increases in the amount of felt trust. Our research provides evidence to suggest that people navigating a newly-formed romantic relationship versus those navigating a long-term romantic relationship may construct the concept of trust in non-equivalent ways. Although people may naturally inhabit excessive felt trust for their beloved from the earliest stages of relationship development onward, the concept of trust may hold the potential to take on varying psychological meaning and function as people navigate the major themes and issues in focus at the given stage of their relationship’s development.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.