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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Qingwen Dong

First Committee Member

Teresa Bergman

Second Committee Member

Heather Hether


Using the focus group methodology, this thesis investigated Instagram’s impact on Knapp’s (1978) relational model, which conceptualized romantic relationships as occurring in stages. In particular, the purpose of this thesis was to gain insight on the ways that young adults (18–25) utilized Instagram’s affordances during the stages of romantic relationships. The focus groups elicited eight themes that provided insights on the motivations and behaviors of individuals who use Instagram’s affordances during romantic relationship processes. These themes included: 1) information seeking, 2) reciprocal idiosyncratic “Like,” 3) unequivocal comment, 4) significant first picture, 5) expected profile engagement, 6) reciprocal photo sharing, 7) jealousy provoking behaviors, and 8) supplemental termination behavior. The first four themes showed that Instagram’s affordances play a large role in the coming together stages of romantic relationships. The next two themes indicated that Instagram’s affordances play a large role in relationship maintenance. Finally, the last two themes indicated that Instagram’s affordances play a moderate role in the coming apart stages of relationships. The uses and gratifications theory was used to explain the findings.





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