The michelangelo phenomenon

Caryl E. Rusbult, Eli J. Finkel, Madoka Kumashiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


This paper reviews theory and research regarding the "Michelangelo phenomenon." The Michelangelo model suggests that close partners sculpt one another's selves, shaping one another's skills and traits and promoting versus inhibiting one another's goal pursuits. As a result of the manner in which partners perceive and behave toward one another, each person enjoys greater or lesser success at attaining his or her ideal-self goals. Affirmation of one another's ideal-self goals yields diverse benefits, both personal and relational. The Michelangelo model and supportive empirical evidence are reviewed, the phenomenon is distinguished from related interpersonal processes, and directions for future work are outlined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-309
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2009


  • Ideal self
  • Interdependence
  • Michelangelo phenomenon
  • Relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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