Email as a Computer Mediated Communication Tool and Romantic Love
Lisa M. Hauser
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Within recent years, Computer Mediated Communication technologies have affected the
nature of epistolary interactions between couples involved in romantic relationships. Email is a
CMC tool that meshes quite naturally with romantic love and intimacy. This type of
correspondence has the ability to intensify the intimacy, passion, self-disclosure, presence and
fantasy experienced from romantic love itself in some couples. The question is if email has the
capacity to reinforce face-to-face romantic relationships. This descriptive study is interested in
examining the romantic relationships shared between couples and how a CMC medium such as
email is used between these individuals to reinforce their face-to-face relationship.
Face-to-face romantic relationships are centered on passion and intimacy. Intimacy
consists of self-disclosure, presence and imagination/fantasy which are the same attributes
needed to conduct intimate email relationships. Technology has made the email relationship an
improved version of the interpersonal exchanges conducted via handwritten letters due to speed
of information exchange, increased support for self-disclosure and increased feeling of presence
or close proximity with the significant other. Email correspondence has the ability to intensify
the emotion, passion, and fantasy experienced from romantic love itself in some couples. The
question is if email has the capacity to reinforce face-to-face romantic relationships.
What is romantic love? Unfortunately, love is an ambiguous term and concrete
definitions have been almost impossible for researchers to create. In fact, John Lee, a sociologist,
believed that the word love had many behavioral referents which result in an acknowledgement
that there are many ways of loving.1 Researchers have conducted studies and have attempted to
define general styles of love. For example, R. J. Sternberg developed the Triangular Theory of
Love.2 He concluded that intimate relationships are comprised of three components: intimacy,
passion and commitment. He defined eight types of relationships by specifying combinations of
these three dimensions (See Fig. 1).
Figure 1: Sternberg’s Triangle Theory of Love
Nonlove is devoid of any of the dimensions and can be associated with most common
types of interactions we have with other people. Liking consists only of intimacy or closeness to
another and infatuation takes place when someone has passion for or is aroused by another
person. Empty love occurs when there is only commitment, such as a marriage where the couple
has lost all intimacy and passion, but has chosen to stay together anyway. Consummate love is
comprised of all three dimensions and is difficult to achieve, while companionate love consists
of commitment and intimacy without passion, such as a long-term relationship that has lost the
passion. Fatuous love exists as a combination of passion and commitment and happens when a
couple meets and quickly gets married without really getting to know each other intimately.
Finally, romantic love, which is driven off of attraction, is made up of intimacy and passion (qtd.
in Knapp and Vangelisti 222-223).
Although Sternberg defined these eight classifications of love, it should be noted that
“[I]n reality, behaviors representing each dimension most likely occur in various degrees”
(Knapp and Vangelisti 222). Therefore, it is possible that any one type of love can contain
elements of all three dimensions, just in differing amounts. With that said, this study focuses on
romantic love. Studies regarding intimate computer-mediated relationships describe the
relationships similarly to Sternberg‟s definition of romantic love. The types of relationships
people experience with computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies such as email
and instant messaging systems tend to be summarized in research results, articles and books as
intimate, passionate and imaginative, characteristics very much like those describing romantic
The individuals involved in romantic relationships tend to share passionate feelings. They
are attracted to each other and often find themselves aroused by the other‟s presence or the very
thought of the other person. In this way, Berscheid and Walster state that “[. . .]passionate love is
aroused by one‟s imagined fantasies[. . .]” (qtd. in Knapp and Vangelisti 224).3 It has also been
found that these romantic lovers also prefer rapid self-disclosure and sexual intimacy in their
relationships (Knapp and Vangelisti 217). In order to reach greater intimacy, they strive for close
proximity or presence as Knapp and Vangelisti state (215).
Thus, romantic lovers can be described as being intimate and passionate. As a result, they
are quick to engage in self-disclosure, sharing personal and oftentimes sexual information about
themselves early on in the relationship. They are driven by their imagination, thinking of and
fantasizing about their significant other frequently and strive to establish even more of a close
presence with them.
As individuals in a romantic relationship get to know each other, they look for ways to
increase the intimacy shared between them. But what is this intimacy that comprises a large part
of romantic love? Intimacy, like romantic love, has been difficult to define, with no agreed upon
definition. The social researcher, K. J. Prager, developed a three-part definition describing
intimacy as a type of interaction that includes self-disclosure, positive feelings expressed towards
and received from the other person, and a perceived improvement of understanding for the other
person.4 Burgoon and Hale in their article, “Validation and Measurement of the Fundamental
Themes of Relational Communication,” add the dependent factors of immediacy, similarity and
receptivity to the definition of intimacy (qtd. in Hian et al., par. 10). In addition, according to
research conducted by Vetere et al. regarding intimacy and technological design, intimacy can be
defined according to three themes. These themes are conditions that exist prior to intimacy as
antecedents, during acts of intimacy, known as constituents, and as a result or yield of intimate
acts. The antecedents are self-disclosure or mutual openness, trust and commitment. The
researchers found that the actual acts of intimacy could be summarized as emotional, reciprocal,
expressive, physical and both public and private. Ultimately, they found that intimacy utilizing
technology such as email resulted in feelings of greater presence or proximity to their loved one
The combination of the aspects outlined above, results in a definition of intimacy that
correlates very closely with the definition of romantic love, most likely because intimacy is a
large part of romantic love. Intimacy exists as a result of self-disclosure, trust and commitment
between two people. Couples experience higher levels of intimacy when there is an immediate
information exchange, they have similar interests, and they are receptive to sharing or opening
themselves up to the other person. When these conditions are met, then the couple feels closer to
each other or feels that they have a sense of closeness in each other‟s lives, emotionally and/or
Romantic love exists because of the intimacy shared between two people. Without
intimacy, romantic love cannot be experienced. Furthermore, romantic love and intimacy have
common characteristics. They both rely on self-disclosure and a sense of presence. This means
that individuals are open with each other and receptive to the other person‟s sharing. Lovers
desire to become closer to their significant other in emotional and physical ways. Intimacy
fulfills this desire, making them feel a sense of emotional closeness or presence with their lover,
even when that person is not physically present.
According to Milne, “[p]resence refers to the degree to which geographically dispersed
agents experience a sense of physical and/or psychological proximity through the use of
particular communication technologies” (par. 1). One such communication technology used by
romantic lovers for hundreds of years is the letter. Couples exchange letters, in order to achieve a
deeper level of intimacy and a closer degree of presence. Presence relies upon intimacy,
immediacy, and disembodiment in order to foster the desired proximity (Milne, par. 6). Lovers
separated by distance often want to maintain their romantic relationship. They have turned to
letter writing as a means to promote intimacy. In this way, epistolary exchange signifies the
absence of the recipient while in the same instance it bridges the gap between the author and he
recipient (Milne, par. 11). Since letter writing is often conducted between people that are
geographically dispersed, the speed of exchange is crucial to keeping the emotions of the
relationship alive. Lovers have been known to wait with great anticipation for a response from
their significant other. If a delay occurs or no response is received the emotions that were built
up can easily fade or even be replaced with anger or disappointment. They develop an imagined
situation inside their mind to explain lack of or delay in response, utilizing the limited amount of
information they have about the situation to begin with.
In fact, the “construction of imaginary presence is a fundamental feature of letter writing”
(Milne, par. 4). Thus, imagination and fantasy become important in supporting this type of
communication. This is especially true since Walther and Tidwell state that “[i]dealization is an
essential element of romantic love” (qtd. in Chenault, par. 31).5 The imaginative experience
created from the romance is magnified when the romance is conducted via epistolary exchange.
Within recent years, CMC technologies have affected the nature of epistolary
relationships. Specifically, email communication has changed the primary aspects, such as
immediacy, self-disclosure, presence, disembodiment, and intimacy, which are central to
epistolary interpersonal communication. This has resulted in an improvement over letter-writing
relationships. Email supports rapid information exchanges, increased openness and reciprocity,
and a stronger sense of presence (Milne, par. 3). Lovers using email to correspond with each
other can experience immediate response. This speeding up of communication allows two people
to exchange thoughts, emotions and ideas more freely than with handwritten letters. The rapid
exchange rate also reinforces a sense of openness, allowing people to feel as if they can share
intimate details more easily and earlier in the relationship than face-to-face or letter-based
relationships could. Conversations then, are more direct and centered on topics that are of
particular importance to the couple. “Accordingly, superficial politeness is less common […]”
and emotional authenticity is more important (Ben-Ze‟ev 29). Jon Stratton states that “the
„virtual‟ nature of email combined with its speed produces a different kind of intimacy than that
experienced in [other types of] epistolary communication” (qtd. in Milne, par. 41). In other
words, the fast rate of exchange and increased support for self-disclosure make people feel closer
to each other, closer than letters or at times face-to-face interaction can make them feel.
CMC is influenced by rapidly changing technology such as new advances in online
communication and the integration of multiple media formats into one communication system;
the recent introduction of voice enhanced instant messaging systems is an example.
Unfortunately, technology is developing, improving and changing extremely rapidly today, and it
is difficult for researchers to accurately study the effects before the technology changes or ceases
to exist. Therefore, researchers are left with no other choice than to apply the results of studies
performed on an outdated technology to recent technologies. For example, early studies of CMC
such as the research resulting in the cues filtered-out (CFO) perspective were conducted in
laboratory settings analyzing small groups of people working together on structured problems.
These studies don‟t account for the complexity of relationships using recent technology and
conducted in private environments. According to Chenault, a comprehensive study of CMC isn‟t
possible because “the very nature of CMC will always pose problems for researchers” due to the
fact that it is much simpler and easier to study group interaction as opposed to one-on-one
relationships (par. 23). Similarly, Vetere et al. state:
Much of what passes between intimates is unsaid and premised on
deep knowledge and understanding of one another and occurs in
the context of a rich, shared and sometimes idiosyncratic view of
the world that may be difficult for others to fathom and
Taking into account the current rapidly changing CMC environment, acknowledging the
limitations of past studies and realizing the complexity of intimate relationships, there exist two
competing categories of CMC theories: relationships lost and relationships liberated. The
relationships lost theories view online relationships as shallow, impersonal and harsh, stating that
these interactions, which lack nonverbal cues, result in impersonal communication (Hu et al. par.
6-10). The liberated perspective argues that CMC offers “[. . .] a more intense personal
impression of one‟s communicative partners, based on the few cues available” (Hian et al., par.
6). It is also believed that those theories supporting the lost relationship view are based on
insufficient field studies which make the results inaccurate (Hu et al., par. 12).
J.B. Walther developed a Hyperpersonal Model of CMC described by Hian et al., which
attempts to spell out how CMC supports closeness between individuals and at times exceeds
face-to-face communications.6 He describes three conditions that are necessary for hyperpersonal
communication to occur: the receiver‟s idealization of their significant other, selective self-
representation by the sender, and reciprocity between the first two conditions that create a
feedback loop into itself (par. 7). In essence, hyperpersonal communication occurs when the
partners fantasize about each other frequently and are mutually open to sharing information.
Even though they may only share positive qualities about themselves, painting a positive picture,
self-disclosure can still take place. Interestingly, the characteristics of romantic love match this
definition of the Hyperpersonal Model of CMC almost precisely. Lovers quickly engage in self-
disclosure, sharing personal and sometimes sexual information about themselves early in their
relationship. They are consumed by their imagination, thinking of and fantasizing about their
significant other a lot and desire to create a closer presence with them. Typically, love fuels the
desire to become more intimate which causes the couple to fantasize about their lover even more.
The closer they feel the more they mutually share intimate details with each other which feeds
back into increased imagination and self-disclosure ultimately leading to more intimacy.
Romantic lovers naturally fall into this Hyperpersonal Model of CMC because of these
It is interesting to note that email, intimacy and romantic love are linked together by four
common aspects: intimacy, immediacy, self-disclosure and presence. Couples in love seek
increased levels of intimacy and a sense of closer emotional and physical proximity. Could it be
that they utilize email as a CMC tool to achieve this? This study aims to determine if the
common aspects mentioned above, established when a romantic relationship is initiated, are
reinforced via email exchanges between the couple. Does this email exchange account for
increased intimacy and does the couple seek to create a greater sense of presence, not only
geographically but emotionally, in order to keep the romantic relationship strong? When
romantic partners choose to utilize email as a communication tool, are they reinforcing the
intimacy between them? Do email exchanges between two partners contribute to closer and more
intimate feelings toward each other that transfers back into their face-to-face relationship?
Romantic love is driven off of intimacy and passion. In addition, couples seek out
closeness by disclosing intimate details about themselves, oftentimes early in the relationship.
Their passion causes them to fantasize about each other, creating a sense of presence even when
they are physically separated. Their desire and passion for continued closeness prompt them to
value a rapid exchange of personal information sharing. Intimacy, a crucial component that
makes up romantic love, is also driven by this sense of immediacy. When trust and commitment
exist between a couple, they are more open with each other. They feel better able to risk
exposing a deeper level of themselves with the hope that the other person will reciprocate. This
process of intimate self-disclosure relies often-times on the speed in which this information is
exchanged. When one person shares and immediately responds with a similar openness, the
intimacy is heightened making them feel a stronger connection. Intimacy is achieved when
lovers feel “a strong sense of presence-in-absence, a sense of the other despite their physical
absence” (qtd. in Vetere, 477).7 Basically the couple invests a lot of effort in “ensuring that their
partners stay with them, at the forefront of their hearts and minds, throughout daily life” (Vetere,
Do lovers maintain this sense of intimacy, presence and romantic love by utilizing
communication tools? Email is one such CMC tool that meshes quite naturally with romantic
love and intimacy. That‟s because it requires intimacy, self-disclosure, presence, and immediacy
in order to be successful; the same aspects needed to support romantic love and intimacy itself.
Intimate email correspondence may have an effect on the emotion, passion, and fantasy
experienced from romantic love.
This study is interested in examining the romantic relationships shared between couples
and how a CMC medium such as email is used between these individuals to reinforce their face-
to-face relationship. Such a study entails disclosure of intimate and personal details by the
participants. Thus, a qualitative approach has been selected that will utilize individual journals
and interviews to collect data that will be analyzed in a descriptive way. Questionnaires will also
be created and the data collected will be analyzed utilizing quantitative analysis.
The variable model on the next page outlines the independent and dependent variables for
this study (See Fig. 2). The attributes of CMC, specifically email exchange (x1) and
characteristics of the couple‟s relationship (x2) have an affect on the couple‟s perception of their
romantic love relationship (y1). The instruments designed for this study will collect data that
assesses these variables.
independent variable measures. In order to assess the attributes of CMC and its use by
the participants, a questionnaire will be used. Participants will be asked questions relating to
CMC and their use of email as a tool for communicating with their significant other. The aim is
to determine their background in utilizing communication tools such as the telephone, cell
phone, email and instant messages. Data will be collected on their familiarity with email and
how long they have been using email as a communication method. Participants will be chosen
for the study based upon their use of email in communicating with their significant other. Once
selected for the study, data on frequency of email exchange, length and content of messages will
be collected via personal journals and interviews.
Data on characteristics of the couples will also be collected during the initial
questionnaire assessment. Participants will be asked to reveal information about themselves and
their relationships. The aim is to collect data on duration of relationship, marital status, living
arrangements, age, number of children, occupation, race and income. This questionnaire will
reveal general characteristics about the couples that will be utilized to pool and recruit
participants for the study. If the couple is chosen to take part in the study, the data will then be
used to perform descriptive analysis.
dependent variable measures. Romantic love, the dependent variable in this study will be
assessed using Sternberg‟s Triangular Love Scale (Sternberg 137). The scale contains 45
questions that assess three components of love: intimacy, passion and commitment on a nine-
point scale where the lowest point is 1 and equals “not at all”, the midpoint is 5 and equals
“moderately” and the highest point is 9 and equates to “extremely”. The intimacy component
assesses self-disclosure, presence and other aspects of intimacy. The passion component captures
data on the aspects of a romantic relationship that pertain to fantasy, imagination and physical
attraction. The third section, commitment, is focused on assessing a person‟s feeling of stability
and permanence of the relationship.
Figure 2: Dependent and Independent Variables
criterion validity. In order to define how well the instruments in a study measures data,
they need to be compared to similar valid instruments. A good instrument will yield similar
results as other previously validated instruments that measure the same construct. In this study,
the Triangular Love Scale, developed by Sternberg is an instrument that has been used in other
studies with consistent results (137).
construct validity. To determine if the data gathered is actually measuring the construct
being studied, the literature review, analysis of theories on romantic love and CMC tools and the
examination of instruments/models used in similar studies will need to be performed.
Reliability To ensure that the instrument is able to repeatedly yield the same results each
time it is used, pilot testing of the questionnaires has been built into the timeline for this study. .
An initial questionnaire will be distributed to obtain a pool of potential participants. By
gathering data pertaining to attributes of CMC such as use of email exchange and the nature of
their romantic relationship, couples will be selected to participate in the study. The data from this
questionnaire with then be used for descriptive analysis for those selected to participate in the
Once the participants are identified, a four-week journaling process will begin. The
participants will be asked to keep a daily journal recording frequency and number of email
exchanges per day. In addition, they will be asked to record personal information such as
meaning of content, emotional connotation of emails and the environment in which the emails
were sent and received. Meetings will be scheduled at the end of each week to review journal
entries and gauge accuracy of journal completion. Semi-structured interviews will also take place
at this time to expand and interpret the journal entries and obtain more information regarding
how email affects their romantic relationships.
At the conclusion of the four week journaling process, the participants will complete their
final interview. Then they will be given a questionnaire including the Triangular Love Scale and
some additional questions. The questionnaire will gather data that will assess three components
of their romantic relationships: intimacy, passion and commitment.
A judgmental or purposive sampling method will be utilized to identify couples who will
complete the initial questionnaire. The researcher will distribute the questionnaire to couples
identified via personal contact, email or telephone calls. Since a critical, descriptive study will be
performed on such a complex concept as romantic love, only six couples will be selected from
the initial pool of candidates. If this descriptive study yields significant results, then the study
can be repeated using a randomized sampling method.
The data gathered from the initial questionnaire will be analyzed using descriptive
statistics. This will yield general descriptive information on demographics, couple characteristics
and CMC/email communication information. Qualitative analysis techniques will be utilized to
analyze the journals and interview notes using transcript coding and interpretation. After each
scheduled weekly meeting, the journals will be transcribed and interview notes analyzed to
identify themes. These themes will immediately be grouped so that patterns can be identified and
interview structure and journal guidance adjusted for the subsequent weeks.
The Triangular Love Scale will be analyzed using quantitative analysis. The score will be
used to determine how each individual in the relationship perceives love regarding intimacy,
passion and commitment. The mean rating for the questions in each of the three sections
(intimacy, passion and commitment) will be determined. Utilizing the nine-point scale, 5 would
indicate that the individual perceives a moderate amount of intimacy, passion or commitment.
Ratings less than 5 would indicate lower perceptions of the component and rating greater than 5
would indicate a stronger perception of the component.
The study of romantic relationships presents a number of challenges that are distinct from
the study of other relationships. As Vetere et al indicate, “intimate acts are ephemeral and
transient yet ubiquitous and crucial to the ongoing life of an intimate relationship” (472). Though
these acts hold deep meaning shared between a couple, they are often viewed as insignificant and
trivial to outsiders which makes it difficult for observers to interpret.
Much of what passes between intimates is unsaid and premised on
deep knowledge and understanding of one another and occurs in
the context of a rich, shared and sometimes idiosyncratic view of
the world that may be difficult for others to fathom and
comprehend. (Vetere et al 472)
This uniquely personal method of sharing can make it very difficult for couples to
describe how they feel or what they experience when they communicate with each other.
Additionally, since the exchanges between romantically involved couples involve high levels of
self-disclosure, it may be difficult for participants to reveal themselves fully to others outside of
Taking into consideration the intimate and private nature of romantic relationships, the
study was designed to capture the unique, meaningful experiences of the participants without
appearing overly disruptive. Thus journaling offers a mechanism that enables the participants to
record typically private and privileged information and experiences on their own terms and in
their own words. Weekly interviews then allow the participants the opportunity to expand upon
and explain their journal entries while still fresh in their minds.
The study will be conducted over the course of 16 weeks as indicated in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Timeline for Study
This study will serve as a small, preliminary, descriptive study analyzing the effects that
email has on romantic relationships shared by couples. If the finding of this study are significant,
a more in depth follow-up study will be performed. The implications of this study and further
ones if performed, will allow other researchers to understand the importance of CMC tools such
as email and its importance in reinforcing romantic relationships. If it is found that email has a
significant effect on romantic relationships, new products and services could potentially be
developed. These potential products and services could provide improved communication
methods that reinforce relationships, making them stronger.
Lee‟s work is described, among others‟ research, in Knapp‟s reference text. See J.A.
Lee, The Colors of Love (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice, 1976).
Sternberg‟s Triangular Theory of Love is briefly defined in Knapp. See R.J. Sternberg,
The Triangle Theory of Love: Intimacy, Passion, Commitment (New York: Basic, 1988).
E. Berscheid and E. Walster, “A Little Bit About Love,” ed. T.L. Huston, Foundations
of Interpersonal Attraction (New York: Academic, 1974) 355-381.
K. J. Prager, The Psychology of Intimacy (New York: Guilford, 1995).
J. B. Walther and L. C. Tidwell, “Nonverbal Cues in Computer-Mediated
Communication, and the Effects of Chronemics on Relational Communication,” Journal of
Organizational Computing, 5.4 (1995): 355+.
J. B. Walther, “Computer-Mediated Communication: Impersonal, Interpersonal ad
Hyperpersonal Interaction,” Communication Research, 23.1 (1996): 3-43.
L. Register and T. Henley, “The Phenomenology of Intimacy,” Journal of Social and
Personal Relationships, 9 (1992): 467-481.
Ben-Ze‟ev, Aaron. Love Online: Emotions on the Internet. New York: Cambridge UP, 2004.
Bertacco, M., and Antonella Deponte. “Email as a Speed-Facilitating Device: A Contribution to
the Reduced-Cues Perspective on Communication.” Journal of Computer-Mediated
Communication. 10.3 (2005): 39 pars. 12 Apr. 2006.
Chenault, Brittney G. “Developing Personal and Emotional Relationships Via Computer-
Mediated Communication.” Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine. 1 May 1998.
22 Apr. 2006. <http://www.december.com/cmc/mag/1998/may/chenault.html>.
Hian, Lee Bee, Sim Li Chuan, Tan Mon Kiat Trevor, and Benjamin H. Detenber. “Getting to
Know You: Exploring the Development of Relational Intimacy in Computer-Mediated
Communication.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 9.3 (2004): 66 pars.
12 Apr. 2006. <http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol9/issue3/detenber.html>.
Hu, Yifeng, Jacqueline Fowler Wood, Vivian Smith, and Nalova Westbrook. “Friendships
Through IM: Examining the Relationship Between Instant Messaging and Intimacy.”
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 10.1 (2004): 45 pars. 12 Apr. 2006.
Knapp, Mark L, and Anita L. Vangelisti. Interpersonal Communication and Human
Relationships. Boston: Allyn, 2000.
Milne, Esther. “Email and Epistolary Technologies: Presence, Intimacy, Disembodiment.”
Fibrecutlure Journal. 2 (2003): 44 pars. 26 Apr. 2006.
Shreve, Jenn. “Epistolary Romance, Digital Style.” Salon.com. 27 Apr. 1998: 2 pp. Salon Media
Group, Inc. 18 Apr. 2006
Sternberg, R.J. Cupid's Arrow. New York: Cambridge UP, 1998.
Turkle, Sherry. Life On the Screen. New York: Simon, 1995.
Vetere, Frank, Martin R. Gibbs, Jesper Kjeldskov, Steve Howard, Florian 'Floyd' Mueller, Sonja
Pedell, Karen Mecoles, and Marcus Bunyan. “Mediating Intimacy: Designing
Technologies to Support Strong-Tie Relationships.” Proceedings of the SIGCHI
Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2005, Portland, Oregon 2-7 April
2005. New York: ACM, 2005. 471-480.
Number of years in relationship: _______
Do you have children?
How many? _______
Number of children living at home: _______
Age of each person in relationship:
Race of each person in relationship:
Occupation of each person in relationship:
Gross Income of each person in relationship:
Do you own a computer?
Do you have access to a computer?
Preferred method for communicating with significant other (rate each from 1 to 4 with
one being preferred and 4 not as preferred):
___ Telephone (landline)
___ Cell Phone
___ Instant Message
Do you use email as a way of communicating with your significant other?
Where do you send most of your emails from?
o Other ____________
Each person will be provided a journal to record information regarding email exchanges with
their significant other on a daily basis. To maintain privacy the content of the emails will not be
revealed, however, each participant will be asked to tag every email with a unique ID number in
order to record the following information:
- Timestamps of each email received. from significant other
- Timestamps of each email sent to significant other
- Word count of each email received. from significant other
- Word count of each email sent to significant other
- Free-form journal entries that record how the content of sent/received emails
made them feel, how they feel toward the other person.
Triangular Love Scale
Read each statement below and fill in the blank with the name of the person you love or care about
deeply. In the blank spaces in front of each statement, indicate your agreement with it. Use the nine-point
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Not at all Moderately Extremely
1. I am actively supportive of _____’s well-being.
2. I have a warm relationship with _____.
3. I am able to count on _____ in times of need.
4. _____ is able to count on me in times of need.
5. I am willing to share myself and my possessions with _____.
6. I receive considerable emotional support from _____.
7. I give considerable emotional support to _____.
8. I communicate well with _____.
9. I value _____ greatly in my life.
10. I feel close to _____.
11. I have a comfortable relationship with _____.
12. I feel that I really understand _____.
13. I feel that _____ really understands me. `
14. I feel that I can really trust _____.
15. I share deeply personal information about myself with _____.
16. Just seeing _____ excites me.
17. I find myself thinking about _____ frequently during the day.
18. My relationship with _____ is very romantic.
19. I find _____ to be very personally attractive.
20. I idealize _____.
21. I cannot imagine another person making me as happy as _____ does.
22. I would rather be with _____ than with anyone else.
23. There is nothing more important to me than my relationship with _____.
24. I especially like physical contact with _____.
25. There is something almost “magical” about my relationship with _____.
26. I adore _____.
27. I cannot imagine life without _____.
28. My relationship with _____ is passionate.
29. When I see romantic movies or read romantic books I think of _____.
30. I fantasize about _____.
31. I know that I care about _____.
32. I am committed to maintaining my relationship with _____.
33. Because of my commitment to _____, I would not let other people come between
34. I have confidence in the stability of my relationship with _____.
35. I could not let anything get in the way of my commitment to _____.
36. I expect my love for _____ to last for the rest of my life.
37. I will always have a strong responsibility for _____.
38. I view my commitment to _____ as a solid one.
39. I cannot imagine ending my relationship with _____.
40. I am certain of my love for _____.
41. I view my relationship with _____ as permanent.
42. I view my relationship with _____ as a good decision.
43. I feel a sense of responsibility toward _____.
44. I plan to continue in my relationship with _____.
45. Even when _____ is hard to deal with, I remain committed to our relationship.
Source: Sternberg, R.J. Cupid's Arrow. New York: Cambridge UP, 1998.
RESEARCH CONSENT FORM
Subject Name: Date:
Title of Study:
Email as a Computer Mediated Communication Tool and Its Effects on Romantic Love
Lisa M. Hauser
PO Box 305
Quakertown, NJ 08868
Before agreeing to participate in this research study, it is important that you read and
understand the following explanation of the proposed procedures. It describes the
purpose, procedures and description of the study. It also describes your right to
withdraw from the study at any time.
Purpose of the study and how long it will last:
The purpose of this study is to assess the relationship between aspects of a romantic
relationship and the use of a email exchanges between a couple engaged in a romantic
Description of the study including the procedures to be used:
Information will be collected via personal journals, interviews and questionaires. All
materials for journaling will be provided and interviews will be scheduled and conducted
at the convenience of the participants.
The journaling will be conducted for a duration of four-weeks and weekly meetings will
be scheduled to review the progress of the journal entries and answer questions and
Confidentiality of research records:
All information collected during this study will be kept strictly confidential. Your name
and other personal information will not be shared with anyone outside of this study.
Reseach Consent Form -Page 1 of 2
RESEARCH CONSENT FORM (Continued)
This research study has been reviewed and approved by the NJIT Institutional Review
Board (IRB). If I have any questions regarding my rights as a research subject, I may
contact the NJIT IRB at (908) 555-5555.
RESEARCH SUBJECTS’ RIGHTS: I have read or have had read to me all of the
Lisa Hauser has explained the study to me and answered all of my questions.
I understand that I do not have to take part in this study, and my refusal to participate or
my decision to withdraw will involve no penalty or loss of rights or benefits. The study
personnel may choose to stop my participation at any time.
In case I have questions regarding this study, I have been told I can call Lisa Hauser at
telephone number 908-797-1815.
I understand my rights as a research subject, and I voluntarily consent to participate in
this study. I understand what the study is about and how and why it is being done. I
have been told I will receive a signed copy of this consent form.
Signature of Subject Date
For the Researcher or Designee:
I certify that I have reviewed the contents of this form with the
person signing above, who, in my opinion, understood the
Signature of Principal Researcher & Designee Date
Reseach Consent Form -Page 2 of 2