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Lecture 9

Psych 354 - Lecture 9.doc

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University of Waterloo
Denise Marigold

LECTURE 9 – SOCIAL COGNITION #2: CLOSENESS AND SIMILARITY - Similarity between partners predicts not only attraction, but relationship satisfaction and stability - Brehm, Miller, Campbell and Perlman even state that "There's no danger in having too much in common Closeness (Inclusion of Other Self) - Aron, Aron, Tudor and Nelson (1991) - they suggest that people tend to cognitively merge themselves with their partners, seeing themselves and their partners as overlapping in some ways - This inclusion of other in self may lead to other cognitive consequences of closeness 1. When we are in relationships, partners may act for each other, sacrificing the self, without expecting anything in exchange for their sacrifices. Aron and his colleagues suggest that close relationship partners may also act to benefit their partners, sacrificing their own needs and desires because acting for their partners will bring benefits not only to the partner, but to the self as well. 2. When people feel cognitively close to their partners, they may take their partners' perspectives and interpret situations through their partner's eyes. We may be able to see situations from our partners' shoes, while having a difficult time understanding the perspectives of people who are not close to us. 3. If people really do see themselves as merged with their partners, and aren't entirely sure where they begin and their partners end, people may actually get confused about whether certain characteristics are their own, or whether those characteristics are traits of their partners. Basically, they suggest that it may take longer for people to distinguish their own characteristics from their partners' characteristics. Perceiving Similarity - Although similarity between partners is highly important for satisfaction and stability of our relationships, we aren't always that similar to our partners in reality - If we are close to our partners and have a tendency to see our partners as a part of ourselves, we may then use our understandings of who we are as a basis for understanding who our partners are - That is, in close relationships, we may use ourselves as a basis for figuring out what our partner's traits and characteristics are all about. - we may be egocentric, using our fairly vast knowledge of ourselves as a template for filling in our more limited knowledge of our partners - Such egocentrism in our perceptions of our partners may provide us with a sense that we are emotionally connected to our partners and may encourage us to see our partners as kindred spirits Similarity and Perceiving Understanding - Such egocentrism may encourage us to commit ourselves to our relationships - under the assumption that everything in our relationships will go smoothly and easily, despite the fact that reality is generally anything but smooth and easy in relationships. - this egocentrism may lead us to feel a certain confidence that may help us through difficult times - If we feel as if our partners understand us (we construct this sense of being understood), even though in reality th
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