Close partner as sculptor of the ideal self: Behavioral affirmation and the Michelangelo phenomenon

Stephen M. Drigotas, Caryl E. Rusbult, Jennifer Wieselquist, Sarah W. Whitton
1999 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology  
This work incorporates concepts from the behavioral confirmation tradition, self tradition, and interdependence tradition to identify an interpersonal process termed the Michelangelo phenomenon. The Michelangelo phenomenon describes the means by which the self is shaped by a close partner's perceptions and behavior. Specifically, self movement toward the ideal self is described as a product of partner affirmation, or the degree to which a partner's perceptions of the self and behavior toward
more » ... behavior toward the self are congruent with the self s ideal. The results of 4 studies revealed strong associations between perceived partner affirmation and self movement toward the ideal self, using a variety of participant populations and measurement methods. In addition, perceived partner affirmation-particularly perceived partner behavioral affirmation-was strongly associated with quality of couple functioning and stability in ongoing relationships. Living with him, she had come to believe that men and women are given, or seek unawares the experience they require. . .. She thought often about Michelangelo's statues that they had seen years ago in Florence in the first excitement of their love, figures hidden in the block of stone, uncovered only by the artist's chipping away the excess, the superficial blur, till smooth and spare, the ideal shape was revealed. She and Ivan were hammer and chisel to each other. -Lynn Sharon Schwartz, Rough Strife
doi:10.1037/0022-3514.77.2.293 fatcat:tm3nwowxxbfetj2a7q5jcheunq