Date of Award

Fall 10-3-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Kenji Noguchi

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Lucas Keefer

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Kruti Surti

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Donald Sacco

Committee Member 4 School



The study tested whether the negative effects of dissatisfaction in romantic relationships can be mitigated by sexual surrogacy, an imagined sexual relationship with a celebrity or other socially distant target. I conducted a cross-sectional experimental study to examine my question. Participants were first randomly assigned to a relationship threat task asking them to reflect on insecurities in their romantic relationship or a friendship (control). Then were randomly assigned to reflect on either a celebrity crush or their desire to travel (control). Afterward participants were asked to complete measures of relationship satisfaction and well-being (happiness, loneliness, and affect). I predicted that sexual surrogates would offer a protective benefit to well-being (i.e., higher levels of happiness, lower levels of loneliness, and positive affect) when faced with a threat to their romantic relationship security compared to those that were not primed with their sexual surrogate. Sexual surrogacy had a very small effect on well-being. Interestingly, attachment styles were better predictors of well-being.