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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2004 Jul;87(1):80-95.

Feeling better about doing worse: social comparisons within romantic relationships.

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Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.


The authors examined the role of closeness between self and partner in determining the impact of social comparisons within intimate relationships. To the extent that one's partner is a central aspect of one's identity, one may be able to restore one's positive self-regard following an upward comparison with the partner by turning to the relationship as a self-affirmational resource. Studies 1 and 2 examined reactions to imagined comparisons; Studies 3 and 4 examined reactions to actual comparison feedback. Across studies, closeness moderated the impact of upward comparisons with the partner; that is, higher closeness participants responded to a more successful partner by focusing on their relationship-related strengths. However, closeness did not moderate the impact of downward comparisons with the partner.

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