Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Blaine J. Fowers

Second Committee Member

Kent Burnett

Third Committee Member

Karina Gattamorta

Fourth Committee Member

Kristen M. Lindahl


The developmental age spanning the years of 18-25 is uniquely primed to the experiences of stress-related growth, due to the emphasis on growth, change and exploration (Aldwin, Levenson, & Kelly, 2009; Arnett, 2000, 2004). In particular, this developmental stage is characterized by many new romantic relationships and breakups in the process of learning about relationships. Recent research on posttraumatic growth has focused on distress and growth following romantic relationship dissolution (Hebert & Popadiuk, 2008; Tashiro & Frazier, 2003; Lewandowski & Bizzoco, 2007). The current study utilized a longitudinal design to assess stress-related growth following relationship dissolution in college students. Participants in romantic relationships were recruited and assessed at two time points, approximately 2½ months apart. Results indicated that following relationship breakup, participants reported a high degree of both distress and perceived growth. However, variables measured at Time 1 were not related to distress and growth measured at Time 2. The results are consistent with research which suggests that growth may be the result of self-enhancement biases or positive illusions (Fraizer & Kaler, 2009). Contrary to previous research, a measure of actual growth was unrelated to distress, perceived growth, or whether the individual actually experienced a breakup or not. Implications for future research and therapeutic interventions are discussed.


Stress-Related Growth; Posttraumatic Growth; Relationship Dissolution; Breakup; Romantic Relationship