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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2008 Aug;95(2):420-41. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.95.2.420.

"Walking on eggshells": how expressing relationship insecurities perpetuates them.

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Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8205, USA.


The authors present a model positing that when people are insecure about a relationship partner's acceptance, they often express emotional vulnerabilities to the partner, which causes them to believe the partner views them as highly vulnerable and insecure. In turn, this belief causes them to doubt the authenticity of the partner's expressions of positive regard, which may perpetuate the experience and expression of insecurity that initiated the process. Prototypes of interactions with interpersonally vulnerable individuals included partners' inauthentic expressions of regard (Study 1). Suggesting that these prototypes are applied to personal relationships when vulnerabilities are expressed, those who claimed to have expressed vulnerabilities doubted the partner's authenticity because they believed that they were viewed as vulnerable (Studies 2A, 2B, and 4). Authenticity doubts in turn predicted perceptions of rejection (Studies 3 and 4), which in turn predicted partner derogation and subsequent expressions of vulnerability (Study 4). An experimental manipulation of reflected appraisals of vulnerability increased doubts about the authenticity of a new acquaintance's expressions of emotion (Study 5). Relational insecurity may be perpetuated via the intrapersonal cognitive consequences of expressing it.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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