My Relationship is Better than- and Not as Bad as--Yours is: The Perception of Superiority in Close Relationships

  • Van Lange P
  • Rusbult C
  • 27

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Abstract

This research studies naturally occurring thoughts about relationships to test hypotheses regarding the tendency to perceive one's own relationship as superior to others' relationships. Using a thought-listing technique, four experiments conducted in the United States and two experiments conducted in the Netherlands demonstrated that subjects hold more positive beliefs about their own relationships than other relationships (positive superiority) and hold fewer negative beliefs about their own relationships than other relationships (negative superiority). Also, subjects' beliefs about their own relationships are composed of far more positive than negative information (own relationship positivity), whereas perceptions of other relationships are dominated by negative information (other relationships negativity). These findings were obtained when subjects listed positive and negative thoughts regarding global features of relationships; parallel findings emerged for descriptions of constructive and destructive reactions to specific dissatisfying incidents.

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Authors

  • Paul A. M. Van Lange

  • Caryl E. Rusbult

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