Interpersonal roles in transference: Transient mood effects under the condition of significant-other resemblance

Alana Baum, Susan M. Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research has demonstrated that transference occurs in social perception - defined in terms of the activation and application of a significant-other representation to a new person - using memory confidence and evaluation as indices (e.g., Andersen & Baum, 1994; Andersen, Reznik, & Manzella, 1996). The present research examined interpersonal roles in transference, and the notion that transient mood in transference may be predicted by one's interpersonal role with the significant other and its congruence or incongruence with the new person's role. In a combined idiographic-nomothetic design, participants learned about a new person characterized by features descriptive of their own positively toned significant other or that of a yoked participant's. Importantly, this new person was cast in an interpersonal role congruent or incongruent with the significant other's. Given the positive significant-other relationship, we predicted that role congruence would be associated with positive affect and role incongruence with negative affect, and hence that this pattern should emerge in transference. Results confirmed this prediction. Participants' transient mood was relatively more positive (nondepressive) when the target had resembled their own significant other and occupied a congruent versus incongruent role, and was clearly negative (depressive) based on role incongruence. Memory confidence and evaluation effects verified that transference was triggered in the significant-other resemblance condition, and thus that interpersonal roles predicted self-reported mood in transference. Implications for self-other relations and relational schemas are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-185
Number of pages25
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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