The self in romantic relationships : understanding personality and romantic relationships from three perspectives

Bühler, Janina Larissa. The self in romantic relationships : understanding personality and romantic relationships from three perspectives. 2019, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Psychology.


Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/diss/DissB_13097

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In the pursuit of a better understanding of the self in romantic relationships, this dissertation holds three research perspectives on people’s personality and their romantic relationships: a narrative identity perspective, a life-span perspective, and a process-based perspective.
The narrative identity perspective was employed in Studies 1 and 2, in that Study 1 examined personality from an integrative actor–agent–author standpoint and Study 2 theoretically elaborated on the nexus between the narrative identity approach and the study of romantic relationships. More specifically, findings from Study 1 revealed that the actor (expressed as personality traits), the agent (expressed as life goals), and the author (expressed as life narratives) showed empirical associations that can be meaningfully interpreted in light of master motives (i.e., getting along, getting ahead, and a compound of both). Study 2 discussed the relevance and benefits of conceptualizing and analyzing relationship experiences as narrative representations, highlighting narrative methodologies as a valuable tool for understanding such relationships. The life-span perspective was employed in Studies 3 and 4, investigating whether age matters for personality and romantic relationships. Corresponding aspects were examined in both areas: Life goals as a striving-related aspect of personality (Study 3) and the Michelangelo phenomenon as a striving-related aspect of romantic relationships (Study 4). More specifically, results from Study 3 revealed that age matters for life goals insofar as goal-importance domains and goal-attainability domains mapped onto developmental tasks that adults usually encounter in a respective life stage. Moreover, the association between goal importance and goal attainability was largely bidirectional over time, and goal attainability, rather than goal importance, was positively related to later subjective well-being; these effects were largely independent of age. Findings from Study 4 revealed the Michelangelo phenomenon as a fairly age-independent principle, underscoring that people of any age were likely to move toward their ideal self and to benefit from this movement. The process-based perspective was employed in Study 5 and examined three daily relationship processes in the transactional link between personality and relationship satisfaction. Findings from this study indicated that people with interpersonal vulnerabilities (i.e., neuroticism, low self-esteem, insecure attachment) reported lower levels of beneficial daily emotional, cognitive, and behavioral relationship processes (i.e., perceived responsiveness, positive expectations, and self-disclosure) and higher day-to-day variability in these processes. However, only the level of these processes, not their variability, explained later relationship satisfaction. The same was true for the reversed direction in that lower levels of beneficial relationship processes mediated the link between relationship satisfaction and later interpersonal vulnerabilities. As such, insights into couples’ daily lives contribute to explaining personality–relationship transactions in romantic couples.
In sum, this cumulative dissertation offers a nuanced view on people’s personality and their romantic relationships through the application of three distinct yet converging research perspectives. An outlook on how these research strands can be merged in future research is provided.
Advisors:Grob, Alexander and Nikitin, Jana
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Society & Choice > Entwicklungs- und Persönlichkeitspsychologie (Grob)
UniBasel Contributors:Grob, Alexander and Nikitin, Jana
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:13097
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:V, 257 Seiten
Identification Number:
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:28 Jun 2019 04:30
Deposited On:27 Jun 2019 10:18

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