Projection of responsiveness to needs and the construction of satisfying communal relationships.

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Abstract or Description

This research tested a social projection model of perceived partner responsiveness to needs. According to this model, people project their own care and supportiveness for a partner onto their perceptions of their partner's caring and supportiveness. In 2 dyadic marriage studies, participants' self-reported responsiveness to the needs of a spouse predicted perceptions of the spouse's responsiveness to the self more strongly than did the spouse's self-reported responsiveness. These projected perceptions of responsiveness, in turn, appeared to promote perceivers' relationship satisfaction. These effects were independent of individual differences in attachment, self-esteem, depression, and communal orientation. A daily-diary component suggested that people projected their own chronic responsiveness as well as their daily enacted support onto perceptions of the specific benefits received from their spouses. A 3rd study found that experimentally manipulated feelings of difficulty in recalling examples of own support provision reduced perceptions of partner responsiveness. Results suggest that projection of own responsiveness is an important determinant of perceived social support and is a means by which caring perceivers maintain satisfying and subjectively communal relationships.


Published In

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 5, 834-853.