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View the PDF document Toward the development of a rigorous and quantitative theory of emotional bonding in vulnerability
Author: Reid, Camille Joy-Ann Gennevieve
Institution: University of the South Pacific.
Award: M.A.
Subject: Emotions -- Social aspects, Affect (Psychology) -- Social aspects -- Fiji, Apathy
Date: 2015
Call No.: pac BF 531 .R45 2015
BRN: 1204085
Copyright:Over 80% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission

Abstract: This research was designed to test the Vulnerability Theory of Emotional Bonding (VTEB), which posits that new emotional bonds are formed between two individuals, or existing emotional bonds between two individuals are strengthened, when circumstances arise in which one or both individuals become vulnerable in the presence of the other person. For the purpose of scientific study, vulnerability is operationalized as a need with which the other person can empathize, where both need and empathy are assumed to be measurable variables. Stated formally, VTEB can be expressed as follows: B = f (N1, N2, E1, E2), where B is the strength of the resulting bond, N1 and N2 are the levels of need expressed by the two individuals, respectfully, and E1 and E2 are the levels of empathy expressed by the two individuals, respectfully. The theory was tested in two online experiments. Experiment 1 employed 1,000 participants from the United States of America and Experiment 2 employed 114 participants from the Republic of Fiji. In each experiment, participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups in which they viewed a video recording of a confederate who displayed varying levels of need and empathy. Pretest scores from Experiment 1, but not Experiment 2, showed that participants across all four conditions showed no difference in state of vulnerability or emotional bond in a pretest, while posttest scores showed that as the confederate’s expressions of need and empathy increased, so too did the strength of the emotional bond the participants developed with the confederate. Results from Experiment 1 showed the role of Need to be inconsistent but Empathy to be a good and reliable predictor of Emotional Bonding, whereas the findings from Experiment 2 were difficult to interpret because of possible confounding variables. These findings, as well as the theory itself, are discussed in relation to related theories and research. Overall, the study demonstrates the viability of developing and testing a rigorous, quantitative theory of emotional bonding.
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