Power and psychological well-being in late adolescent romantic relationships

Renee V. Galliher, Sharon S. Rostosky, Deborah P. Welsh, Myra C. Kawaguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Using Olsen and Cromwell's (1975) three facets of interpersonal power (power in resources, process, and outcomes), we examined the balance of power in late adolescent romantic relationships and the associations between interpersonal power, adolescents' self-esteem, and depression. Participants were 61 adolescent couples who were primarily European-American (90% of girls and 93% of boys), with the remainder being comprised of approximately 2-3% each of Native American, Asian, African American, and Hispanic individuals. We assessed power in terms of access to emotional resources, control during video-taped interaction, and control over decision-making. Overall, couples were more likely to be described by themselves and by independent observers as egalitarian, with the majority of couples equally contributing emotional resources, sharing power in interaction, and sharing decision-making responsibility. However, romantic relationships characterized by inequality in the contribution of emotional resources and in decision-making were associated with greater psychological symptomatology, especially for females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-710
Number of pages22
JournalSex Roles
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - May 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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