An exploration in amatology: Self -defined trusting, intimate, and committed adult relationships

Katherine Elizabeth Burdette, University of Pennsylvania


This research, with lengthy interviews, sufficiently flexible protocol, and participants interpolating topics and sharing in the interpretation contributes data which supplies a lacuna in the literature by developing a model of trusting, intimate, and committed, adult relationships (hereafter “TICR's”). Previous research reveals the need for such a model in demonstrating the importance of TICR's to individuals, couples, and families across the life span. Yet previous research has not yielded such a model but rather has focused on the deleterious effects to individuals, families, children, and society due to the influence of relationships which lack the important characteristics of TICR's. The human cost in pain and suffering in relationships without trust, intimacy, and commitment is immeasurable. This study provides a model that can be used by educators, pastors, therapists, or anyone who desires the tools for developing TICR's. Data collected were analyzed within the framework of attachment theory and demonstrated that the attachment of nine of the ten participants changed from insecure to secure, thus replicating Jackson's (1991) study demonstrating that transformation is possible. Results show that high cognitive complexity indicated by individuation, a capacity for emotional attachment independent of practical dependency, valuing differences, and cherishing personal ties is a hallmark of these TICR's. This result may suggest that fostering development of individual capacities, cognitive complexity, and cognitive reassessment may aid others interested in developing TICR's. Availability, understanding, continued development, and active support are mechanisms of the model—termed “Amatology” for its synthesis of theory with empirical data. Literature on attachment, ego-development, and gender-role self-concept form the theoretical base. Consilience between data and theoretical concepts informs the amatological, descriptive model, which includes continued psychological development (higher levels of cognitive complexity), increased autonomy, and flexibility in gender-role self-concept as main features. Synthesis of empirical findings with a philosophic base—the a priori theory of Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative—yields a prescriptive model. “Amatology,” a neologism, is offered for this synthesis of a posteriori and a priori—empirical findings and ethical theory.

Subject Area

Academic guidance counseling|Social psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Burdette, Katherine Elizabeth, "An exploration in amatology: Self -defined trusting, intimate, and committed adult relationships" (2001). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3031645.