Who are “We”? Couple Identity Clarity and Romantic Relationship Commitment

Lydia F. Emery*, Wendi L. Gardner, Kathleen L. Carswell, Eli J. Finkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This research introduces the construct of couple identity clarity—the extent to which an individual, as one of two partners in a romantic relationship, believes that the two of them know who they are as a couple. Cross-sectional (Studies 1–2), experimental (Study 3), and longitudinal (Study 4) studies supported the hypothesis that couple identity clarity is associated with higher commitment. Moreover, higher couple identity clarity, although related to actual agreement between partners on their identity as a couple, predicted commitment above and beyond agreement (Study 2)—as well as predicted reduced likelihood of relationship dissolution over a 9-month period (Study 4). Exploratory analyses revealed that successful conflict resolution may enhance couple identity clarity, in turn predicting commitment (Study 4). These studies highlight the importance of people’s understanding of who they are as a couple and how this understanding shapes relationship persistence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-160
Number of pages15
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • commitment
  • couple identity clarity
  • relationships
  • self-concept clarity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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