Automaticity in close relationships

Serena Chen, Grainne M. Fitzsimons, Susan M. Andersen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Defining Close Relationships The formation and maintenance of close relationships are likely manifestations of the fundamental human need for belonging and connection (Baumeister & Leary, 1995; see also Andersen, Reznik, & Chen, 1997). We define close relationships in terms of the self in relation to significant others, and assume that each relationship with a significant other is mentally represented in this form. Specifically, the cognitive structure of each relationship is comprised of knowledge about the relevant significant other and self-knowledge reflecting who one is in the context of one’s relationship with the other. Such self-and significant-other knowledge structures are bound in memory by linkages that embody the typical patterns of self-other interaction. Although each relationship is unique in some manner (e.g., Hinkley & Andersen, 1996), we recognize that generalized relationship structures exist alongside relationship-specific ones (e.g., Klohnen, Weller, Luo, & Choe, 2005; Ogilvie & Ashmore, 1991; Pierce & Lydon, 2001). Numerous approaches to close relationships assume that significant-other representations are distinct in memory from self representations, and yet also assume, as we do, that these representations are linked in memory. Evidence supports both of these assumptions, even though exact models of representation may vary (e.g., Andersen & Chen, 2002; Aron, Aron, Tudor, & Nelson, 1991; Baldwin, 1992).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSocial Psychology and the Unconscious
Subtitle of host publicationThe Automaticity of Higher Mental Processes
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages40
ISBN (Electronic)9781134954100
ISBN (Print)9781841694375
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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