Open Access
Better Romero, Carolina Alexandra
Area of Honors:
Communication Arts and Sciences
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Denise Haunani Solomon, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lori Ann Bedell, Honors Advisor
  • hurtful messages
  • romantic relationships
  • time
  • perception of hurt
The main objective of this paper was to find out whether the perception of hurtful messages varies as time passes. Because hurt is subjective, perceptions of hurt can change through the course of time; however, I know of no research that has explored how subjective experiences of hurt vary with the passage of time. Since hurtful messages appear constantly in romantic relationships and can negatively affect both individuals and relationships, knowing the effect that time has on perceptions of these messages is very important. I predicted that time has an inverse relationship with the intensity of hurt perceived by a victim of a hurtful message within a romantic relationship (H1). Because satisfaction with a relationship can bias how people perceive past relationship events, I further hypothesized that the association in H1 is greater when relational quality is high than when the quality is low (H2). In a third hypothesis I predicted that as a result of gender scripts, men will minimize feelings of hurt over time; they will not want to appear as victims that hold on to feelings of hurt. Consequently, I predicted that the association in H1 is greater for males than for females (H3). Data was collected both through daily diaries, which were completed by the participating dyads for a fourteen-day period, and in the lab, where the couple reported on one of the hurtful events they wrote about in their diaries. Results showed that the passage of time does not have a direct effect on perceptions of hurt. Also, relational quality did not affect the association between time and an individual’s perception of hurt; however, there were differences in the correlations between hurt and intentionality and time as a function of relational quality. Finally, gender was not related to the effect that the passage of time has on hurtful messages. Yet, there are also differences in correlations of changes in perceptions of hurt through time according to the gender. This thesis provides ideas for future areas of study, important to the development of communication research. It demonstrates that perceptions of hurt and intentionality in hurtful messages do not change within a period of two weeks. This discovery shows the importance of initial evaluations of intensity of hurt and intentionality of a message. It also serves as a time range guideline for future research studies that use the retrospective method. Scholars will now know that there is no change in the perception of intensity of hurt and intentionality of a message within a two-week period.