Exploring the ideal partner preferences of people with disabilities

Howard, Rachel M. (2016) Exploring the ideal partner preferences of people with disabilities. D.Clin.Psychol. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.

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There is a growing number of initiatives aiming to support people with intellectual disability (ID) to find romantic partners but minimal relevant research to inform these initiatives. The present study explored the ideal partner preferences of people with Down’s syndrome (DS); a genetic disorder resulting in ID. Adults with DS (5 male, 5 female) completed an interview incorporating the repertory grid from Personal Construct Psychology to explore their ideal partner preferences, explanations for these and how they relate to their perceptions of actual partners and self. Interview data was subjected to content analysis, thematic analysis and analysis using Idiogrid. Participants typically preferred partners who were good looking, warm, employed, nondisabled and similar to them with the exception of having no disability. Partner’s parental approval also appeared to be important. Explanations were grouped into five themes. Actual partners were typically dissimilar from ideal partners, including all but one having ID. Four participants’ more unique ways of thinking about people were also discussed. Five participants had a current partner. These relationships appeared to be maintained by valuing unconventional traits such as disability or managing expectations of a partner by making compromises or employing psychological defences. Initiatives aimed at facilitating relationships for people with DS may benefit from incorporating a service dedicated to helping them communicate their ideal partner preferences and process feelings linked with managing expectations. One area of future research could evaluate how best to facilitate these conversations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Down’s syndrome, ideal partner preferences, romantic relationships, self-concept, repertory grid
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0692 Psychology of sex. Sexual behaviour
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV1551 People with disabilities
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology > Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
Depositing User: Mrs Kathy Chaney
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2016 14:42
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2016 13:11
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/14973

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00