The nature of intimacy: a qualitative study of five couples : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University

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Massey University
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This study takes a qualitative approach to facilitate five couples describing their experiences of intimacy. Transcribed interviews were analysed for recurring themes and processes. The Waring Intimacy scale was also administered to participants. Athough intimacy is an important goal in contemporary society much is still to be understood about how it is achieved and maintained. Reis and Shaver (1988) have developed a process model of intimacy that describes a single interaction between two individuals and incorporates the properties of a relationship, thus recognising that intimacy is more than the sum of repeated interactions. The general validity of the model was confirmed by the experiences of the couples in this study. Differences were found between those with intimate relationships, who often behaved according to the model and those who reported their relationship as lacking in intimacy, who frequently omitted one or more steps of the model. The model was revised in the light of the data to incorporate such metacognitive factors as the effects of an individuals' expectations and beliefs on his or her motives, fears, needs and goals. Self disclosure was differentiated into direct or indirect, verbal or non-verbal; all of which may play a role in intimacy. The results show that intimacy is both a complex process and a subjective relational experience necessitating a relatively well defined sense of identity and high level communication skills. Analysis of themes and experiences from the interview data reflected the complexity of this construct more adequately than data from the Waring Intimacy Questionnaire.
Intimacy (Psychology), Social interaction