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The Relational Self

Chapter

Abstract

This chapter describes emerging theory and evidence on the relational self from the personality and social psychology literatures. Broadly speaking, the relational self refers to aspects of the self associated with one’s relationships with significant others (e.g., romantic partners, parents, friends). In this chapter, we review multiple theoretical perspectives on the relational self, starting with our recent integrative conceptualization of the relational self (Chen, Boucher, & Tapias, 2006). According to our model, the relational self (1) is self-knowledge that is linked in memory to knowledge about significant others; (2) exists at multiple levels of specificity; (3) is capable of being contextually or chronically activated; and (4) is comprised of self-conceptions and a constellation of other self-aspects (e.g., motives, self-regulatory strategies) that characterize the self when relating to significant others. After describing each of these facets of our model, we review theory and research on the social-cognitive phenomenon of transference in detail, as this body of work served as the primary foundation for our broader model. From there, we describe several other theoretical perspectives on the self and significant others (i.e., relational schemas, attachment theory, inclusion of other in the self, relational-interdependent self-construal), and compare and contrast each of these with the transference perspective on the relational self and, in turn, our broader conceptualization. Finally, we discuss relations between the relational self and other aspects of identity (e.g., cultural identity, gender identity), as well as some important directions for future research.

Keywords

Romantic Partner Attachment Theory Relational Schema Attachment Figure Broad Conceptualization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Bates CollegeLewistonUSA

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