Factors Affecting Attraction: Self-Disclosure

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  • Factors Affecting Attraction: Self-Disclosure
    • Self-Disclosure
      • Self disclosure refers to revealing intimate information to another person
        • For example, revealing  your likes and dislikes, hopes and fears. We share what really matters to us
        • Most people are careful about disclosing too much too soon
        • Ultimately self-disclosure plays an important role in the development of a relationship
    • Social penetration theory (Altman & Taylor)
      • Self disclosure is limited at the start. It is a gradual process of revealing your inner self to someone else
        • Revealing information is a sign of trust. Partner has to reciprocate and reveal personal information
      • Penetrations leads to development.
        • As romantic partners increasingly disclose more information they 'penetrate' more deeply into each other's lives
      • Both breadth and depth of self-disclosure are key according to the social penetration theory
        • Breadth is narrow at the start of a relationship because if too much information is revealed at this may be off-putting & one partner might decide to quit the relationship
      • Depth increases. As a relationships develops more layers are gradually revealed.
        • We are likely to revel more intimate information including painful memories, secrets, etc.
    • Reciprocity of self-disclosure
      • Need for reciprocity for a relationship to develop.
        • Reis & Shaver (1988) suggest that, in addition to a broadening & deepening of self-disclosure, there must be reciprocity.
        • Successful relationships will involve disclosure from one partner which is received sensitively by the other partner
          • In turn this should then lead to further self-disclosure from the other partner
    • Studies such as Sprecher & Hendrick (2004) have found positive correlation between self-disclose and satisfaction
      • However, we cannot assume that the relationship is a casual one.
        • This suggests that such research provides only limited support for the theory.
    • Hass & Stafford (1998) found that 57% of gay men & women reported that open and honest self-disclosure was a maintenance strategy
      • Couples used to 'small talk' can be encouraged to increase self-disclosure in order to deepen their own relationships
    • Tang et al (2013) concluded that people in the US (individualist culture) self-disclose significanty more sexual thoughts than people in China (collectivist)
      • Both levels of self-disclosure are linked to relationship satisfaction in those cultures but nevertheless the pattern of self-disclosure is different
        • Social penetration theory is therefore a limited explanation of romantic relationships ships and not necessarily generalisable to other cultures
    • sometimes breakdown of relationships is characterised by a reduction in self-disclosure, however this is not always the case.
      • Duck's (2007) phase model of the breakdown of relationships recognises that couples often discuss their relationship with each other, yet this may not be sufficient to save the relationship
        • This suggests that increased self-disclosure may not always lead positive developments in a relationship.


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