When "We" Changes "Me": The Two-Dimensional Model of Relational Self-Change and Relationship Outcomes

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Individuals in close relationships may perceive changes to their self-concepts as a result of being with their partners. According to the two-dimensional model of relational self-change, these changes occur across two dimensions, namely direction, which reflects whether the self-concept has gained or lost content, and valence, which reflects whether the self-concept content is positive or negative. These two dimensions combine to create four distinct self-change processes, whereby individuals gain positive traits (self-expansion), gain negative traits (self-adulteration), lose positive traits (self-contraction), and lose negative traits (self-pruning). Study 1 used a longitudinal design and revealed that changes in each of the four self-processes were associated with subsequent relationship satisfaction and commitment. To further investigate the association of self-change with relationship quality, Study 2 found that processes associated with self-concept improvement (i.e., self-expansion and self-pruning) were positively associated with relationship maintenance behaviors and motivations (e.g., accommodation, forgiveness, and willingness to sacrifice), whereas processes associated with self-concept degradation (i.e., self-contraction and self-adulteration) were negatively associated with these outcomes and positively associated with behaviors that may harm the relationship (e.g., dissolution considerations, attention to alternatives, and seeking revenge).

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Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

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