The relational self: An interpersonal social-cognitive theory

Susan M. Andersen, Serena Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The authors propose an interpersonal social-cognitive theory of the self and personality, the relational self, in which knowledge about the self is linked with knowledge about significant others, and each linkage embodies a self-other relationship. Mental representations of significant others are activated and used in interpersonal encounters in the social-cognitive phenomenon of transference (S. M. Andersen & N. S. Glassman, 1996), and this evokes the relational self. Variability in relational selves depends on interpersonal contextual cues, whereas stability derives from the chronic accessibility of significant-other representations. Relational selves function in if-then terms (W. Mischel & Y. Shoda, 1995), in which ifs are situations triggering transference, and thens are relational selves. An individual's repertoire of relational selves is a source of interpersonal patterns involving affect, motivation, self-evaluation, and self-regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-645
Number of pages27
JournalPsychological Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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