Bond psychology student studies texting and romantic relationships

After years of studying texting and romantic relationships, Jodie Bradnam knows better than most how to get a message across quickly, and it has earned her top honours in Bond University's Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Bond University Psychology School
Bond 3MT winner Jodie Bradnam and runner up Skye Marshall (Photo credit: Bond University)

The psychology student presented her latest findings into whether texting fosters relationship intimacy at the competition, which challenges students to describe their research within three minutes to a general audience. Jodie was awarded both overall winner and people’s choice.

Jodie’s research findings revealed that while the use of text messaging in young adult relationships could enhance intimacy, using text messaging to manage conflict and communicate hostility was strongly related to declines in relationship satisfaction.

Jodie will now compete in the 2015 Trans-Tasman 3MT Competition against students from around Australia and New Zealand, being held at The University of Queensland (UQ) on Oct. 2, 2015.

Jodie said she had been working on her thesis since 2012, titled “Text messaging, attachment orientation, satisfaction and stability in romantic relationships: Does texting foster relationship intimacy?” which explored the links between romantic attachment, texting and relationship quality.

More than 990 young adults have already taken part in the study, with the final phase of research involving a further 200 young adult couples about to begin.

She said mobile phones had significantly changed the way romantic partners communicate and the research had already uncovered some interesting findings.

“Young people, aged 18 to 30, are the largest adult users of text messaging. Young adults send up to 90 text messages each day and texting is a way of staying connected,” said Jodie.

“While emerging research suggests text messaging may be a tool for promoting intimacy and connection in young romantic relationships, we’ve also found the use of texting for the management of conflict has been associated with significant reductions in relationship quality.

“What we’ve found is that a strong, positive, emotional climate is required to buffer the impact of negative text message sent between partners.

“The next phase of the research will involve couples so we can study the effect of text messaging on relationship quality from the perspective of each partner.”

“I’m doing the final piece of research now to complete the study, which will involve interviewing family and friends to create recommendations for how to better engage them to achieve more positive outcomes.”

Bond University Director of Research Services Mr Andrew Calder said the competition was a great way to showcase the diverse research underway at Bond, and right around Australia and New Zealand. “The Three Minute Thesis competition allows young researchers to engage with the wider community and showcase the work currently underway that will ultimately help to improve the way we do things.”

Mr Calder said Bond University was looking for aspiring researchers to join the growing research team, with PhD scholarships now on offer to bolster the diverse studies underway by Bond’s Higher Degree by Research (HDR) community.

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