People generally strive to maintain positive views of themselves. Even in the face of negative feedback, individuals frequently protect the self-concept from incorporating negative information. Two studies examined a potential exception to that rule: whether and when romantic desire may motivate individuals to spontaneously adopt the negative attributes of a potential partner. Study 1 demonstrated the basic effect such that single individuals spontaneously incorporated negative attributes of a potential romantic partner into their self-concepts, and incorporation was magnified by desire for the partner. Study 2 explored boundary conditions of these effects. Negative attributes were only incorporated if the potential partner expressed self-acceptance about possessing these attributes; when potential partners reported wishing to change the negative attribute, it was not adopted into the self-concept. Attribute extremity also moderated incorporation. The implications of these results for understanding the nuances of motivated self-malleability are discussed.
- Romantic relationship
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science