The role of social context in the association between leisure activities and romantic relationship quality

Kiersten Dobson, Brian Ogolsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Shared leisure activities with one’s romantic partner are beneficial for both partners and their romantic relationship, but may not exclusively occur with only the partners present. The current research examines the impact of leisure and other relationship behaviors in various social contexts on romantic relationship quality (satisfaction and commitment). Data were collected from a representative sample of couples over the course of 9 months (N = 232 couples at Phase 1), including two 10-day daily diaries documenting engagement in 59 behaviors across various social contexts. Results demonstrated that leisure with one’s partner (without others) was positively associated with short-term relationship quality, whereas leisure with others (without one’s partner) was negatively associated with relationship quality; leisure with one’s partner and others and leisure alone were not associated with relationship quality. When considering engagement in other relationship behaviors with one’s partner, we found no unique effects of the rates of the behaviors, but significant effects for the proportion of physical affection relative to other behaviors. These findings suggest that the content and context of leisure have unique roles in romantic relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-244
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Commitment
  • context
  • leisure
  • longitudinal methods
  • relationship satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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