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Six love styles have been theorized to be related to several personality constructs (e.g., self-esteem) (Lee, 1973). Despite the interpersonal nature of love, investigations have yet to evaluate related variables and their association to love styles in romantic relationships. As a stable cognitive schema, silencing the self is proposed to account for gender differences in rates of depression. To augment the validity of this construct, a study examined the relationship between Lee's love styles and silencing the self for men and women. A sample of 826 male and female introductory psychology students completed the Love Attitudes Inventory and the Self-Silencing Inventory. Stepwise regression analyses were conducted separately for men and women to assess the relative prediction of self-silencing from the six styles of love. Self-silencing was significantly predicted by mania for men, and by ludus, mania, eros, and agape for women. We discuss the sociocultural explanations for gender differences in love styles associated with self-silencing and potential implications for counselling individuals in romantic relationships.
As a cognitive schema, self-silencing represents the need to silence certain feelings, thoughts, and actions to create and maintain safe and intimate interpersonal relationships (Cramer, Gallant, & Langlois, 2005; Cramer & Thorns, 2003; Duarte & Thompson, 1999; Jack & Dill, 1992; Thompson, Whiffen, & Aube, 2001). Though originally identified to investigate gender-specific schemas associated with depression in women (Jack, 1987, 1991), self-silencing research has now been successfully applied to models of male intimacy (e.g., Gratch, Bassett, & Attra, 1995). Given that self-silencing routinely occurs in intimate relationships, and given that men and women adopt unique cognitive styles in their approach to romantic relationships, it may prove fruitful to explore which set of relationship-based variables can reliably predict this self-silencing pattern of behaviours. These findings may not only highlight gender differences in attitudes towards intimate relationships impacting on self-expression, but they may also open new avenues for identifying, counselling, and repairing struggling relationships.
Jack's (1991) longitudinal study of clinically depressed women led to the development of the Silencing the Self Scale (STSS), a 31-item Likert-style inventory that taps specific schemas linked to the establishment and maintenance of intimate relationships. Jack and Dill (1992) indicate that the STSS items reflect culturally derived cognitive schemas that guide women's social behaviours and self-assessment, rather than personality traits. Psychometric investigations of the STSS have demonstrated good reliability and validity (e.g., Jack & Dill, 1992). Despite its roots in a schematic tendency utilized by women, the scale has also been administered to men and yielded comparable results. Curiously, scores on the self-silencing scale have been positively related to depression and negatively related to achievement motivation for both men and women (Carr, Gilroy, & Sherman, 1996; Cramer et al., 2005; Gratch et al, 1995; Page, Stevens, & Galvin, 1998; Remen, Chambless, & Rodebaugh, 2002; Spratt, Sherman, & Gilroy, 1998). Contrary to expectation, several studies have found higher levels of self-silencing among men (Cramer & Thoms, 2003; Duarte & Thompson, 1999; Gratch et al., 1995; Page et al., 1996). However, non-significant gender differences have also been observed (Spratt et al., 1998). It seems that both men and women self-silence in their interpersonal relationships, but may do so for different reasons (see Gratch et al., 1995).
Jack (1987,1991) posited that women fear that their verbal self-expression will be both unacceptable to their male partners and contrary to traditional feminine roles. To avoid conflict that might end the relationship, women actively suppress aspects of the self that their partner might find confrontational and undesirable. Essentially, women's self-silencing may stem from a reluctance to express themselves, either because of directives implicit in unequal relationships or from the moral imperative to care for and not hurt others (Gilligan, 1982; Gratch et al., 1995). Jack (1991) believed the adoption of this cognitive schema would eventually result in a division of the self into the "authentic self" and "outward self." The outward self is created as a fit "into an image provided by someone else--the husband, parental teachings, the culture" (p. 32). Jack acknowledged that this process could be self-imposed or enforced by a domineering partner. It was also emphasized that women learn to engage in self-silencing behaviour through the process of gender-role socialization.
Conversely, men's reasons for self-silencing have been thought to stem from issues of order and control. Gratch et al. (1995) asserted that men either actively withhold their thoughts and feelings to maintain power in their dyadic relationship or lack the emotional vocabulary required to communicate their needs (Balswick, 1988; Rabinowitz & Cochran, 1994). Early research addressing gender differences in the avoidance of self-disclosure showed that men's reasons for avoiding self-disclosure involved issues of control in the relationship, whereas women's reasons centred around avoidance of being hurt (Rosenfeld, 1979).
Love Styles in Women and Men
Relationship styles vary in emotional intensity across individuals and vary across various relationships for any given individual (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986; Richardson, Medvin, & Hammock, 1988). Indeed, Lee (1973) originally discussed the styles as a typology, but posited further that a person could utilize different love styles concurrently in their interpersonal relationships, implying that any given style is based on relationship needs rather than personality. Lord (1997) and Hendrick and Hendrick (1988) explain that both men and women simultaneously use more than one style of love, and these styles do vary over time. For instance, couples are more likely to use agapic and erotic styles at the beginning of the relationship (e.g., Davies, 1996; Hendrick & Hendrick, 1989; Mallandain & Davies, 1994).
Lee (1973) identifies variations in socio-cultural background as leading to gender-specific love styles. For instance, research consistently shows that men more often utilize a ludic style in relationships, whereas women more likely exhibit a manic, pragmatic, and/or storgic style (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1984, 1986, 1988). Hendrick and Hendrick (1986) found that men and women in the United States more often use the agapic and erotic love styles, but Davies (1996) found that in the United Kingdom, it was males who were more likely to display agapic and erotic styles. Investigations into the quality of heterosexual relationships have found women to be most satisfied with men who are agapic and erotic (Morrow, Clark, & Brock, 1995) and least satisfied with men who are ludic and pragmatic (Lord, 1997). Men similarly were most satisfied in relationships with women who were erotic, and least satisfied with women who were pragmatic (Lord, 1997). Several theorists observe that variance in love styles parallels gender differences in attitudes toward sexuality (e.g., Ferrell, Tolone, & Walsh, 1977; Medora & Woodward, 1982). For instance, men and women differ in the sexual attitude of permissiveness--men are typically more permissive than women (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1988; Hendrick, Hendrick, Slapion-Foote, & Foote, 1985), a finding consistent with ludic love (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1992). In contrast, women are traditionally socialized to be conservative in sexual attitudes, seeking one love partner and potential provider (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986), which may account for higher levels of mania, pragma, and storge love styles in women. In short, exploring gender differences in love styles associated with self-silencing may shed light on reasons why men and women engage in this detrimental schema.
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