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How a romantic breakup affects self-concept

Date:
March 12, 2010
Source:
SAGE Publications
Summary:
When a romantic relationship ends, an individual's self-concept is vulnerable to change, according to new research.

When a romantic relationship ends, an individual's self-concept is vulnerable to change, according to research in the February issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Self-concept is defined as a person's sense of "me." Romantic partners develop shared friends, activities and even overlapping self-concepts.

Using three studies, the researchers examined self-concept changes that can occur after a breakup. They found that individuals have reduced self-concept clarity after a breakup. This reduced clarity can contribute to emotional distress. The loss of the relationship has multiple psychological consequences, including the tendency for individuals to change the content of their selves and the feeling that their selves are subjectively less clear and even smaller.

Finding that there is a prevalence of self-change experienced when a romantic relationship ends provides a testament to the power of loss that impacts one's sense of self.

"Not only may couples come to complete each others' sentences, they may actually come to complete each others' selves," write authors Erica B. Slotter, Wendi L. Gardner, and Eli J. Finkel. "When the relationship ends, individuals experience not only pain over the loss of the partner, but also changes in their selves. This research is the first to demonstrate the unique contribution of reduced self-concept clarity to the emotional distress that individuals experience post-breakup."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by SAGE Publications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Slotter et al. Who Am I Without You? The Influence of Romantic Breakup on the Self-Concept. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2010; 36 (2): 147 DOI: 10.1177/0146167209352250

Cite This Page:

SAGE Publications. "How a romantic breakup affects self-concept." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100308132139.htm>.
SAGE Publications. (2010, March 12). How a romantic breakup affects self-concept. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100308132139.htm
SAGE Publications. "How a romantic breakup affects self-concept." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100308132139.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

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