The Psychology of Close Relationships: Fourteen Core Principles

Posted: 19 Jan 2017

See all articles by Eli Finkel

Eli Finkel

Northwestern University - Department of Psychology

Jeffry A. Simpson

University of Minnesota - Minneapolis

Paul Eastwick

University of California, Davis

Date Written: January 2017

Abstract

Relationship science is a theory-rich discipline, but there have been no attempts to articulate the broader themes or principles that cut across the theories themselves. We have sought to fill that void by reviewing the psychological literature on close relationships, particularly romantic relationships, to extract its core principles. This review reveals 14 principles, which collectively address four central questions: (a) What is a relationship? (b) How do relationships operate? (c) What tendencies do people bring to their relationships? (d) How does the context affect relationships? The 14 principles paint a cohesive and unified picture of romantic relationships that reflects a strong and maturing discipline. However, the principles afford few of the sorts of conflicting predictions that can be especially helpful in fostering novel theory development. We conclude that relationship science is likely to benefit from simultaneous pushes toward both greater integration across theories (to reduce redundancy) and greater emphasis on the circumstances under which existing (or not-yet-developed) principles conflict with one another.

Suggested Citation

Finkel, Eli and Simpson, Jeffry A. and Eastwick, Paul, The Psychology of Close Relationships: Fourteen Core Principles (January 2017). Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 68, pp. 383-411, 2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2896720 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010416-044038

Eli Finkel (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Department of Psychology ( email )

Evanston, IL
United States

Jeffry A. Simpson

University of Minnesota - Minneapolis ( email )

110 Wulling Hall, 86 Pleasant St, S.E.
308 Harvard Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Paul Eastwick

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

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