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Abstract

An experiment assessed when people respond more positively to verifying and enhancing appraisals from romantic partners. Two-hundred and fifty-eight individuals comprising 129 dating couples participated in this research. Couples privately rated their self-concept on traits that were either high or low on trait visibility, rated how important each trait was to them, and rated their partners. A computer program ostensibly compared their self-ratings with appraisals from their partners on traits they selected as being high or low in personal importance, and participants received either verifying or enhancing feedback. Confirming predictions, people believed their partners understood them more when they received verifying feedback, but felt their partners saw the best in them when they received enhancing feedback. Additionally, people responded more positively to verifying appraisals on important, less visible traits, and enhancing appraisals on important, highly visible traits. Results are discussed in terms of preferences for enhancing and verifying feedback in romantic relationships. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.