Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Master of Science in Family Sciences (MSFS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Family Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Trent Parker

Abstract

Previous research indicates a high rate of long distance relationships, especially among young adults. Yet, research in this area is lacking, particularly regarding the role of video chatting. Through the lens of the media richness theory and the hyperpersonal model, this qualitative study explores how video chatting impacts idealization and disillusionment in young adults’ long distance dating relationships. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with both partners of six heterosexual couples. Data was analyzed using the constant comparative approach and following the basic framework of open, axial, and selective coding used in grounded theory research. Results indicate that video chatting helps partners feel close to one another, though partners must still manage the differences between feeling close and actually being close. Couples use idealization and uncertainty management to reduce disillusionment, and couples who anticipate changes manage those changes more successfully. These findings suggest that video chatting mimics in-person communication more accurately than any other technology, though it cannot replace true geographic proximity. Nonetheless, video chatting appears to help minimize disillusionment by promoting healthy idealization for couples who use it throughout their long distance dating relationship.