Self-Disclosure in Spouse and Stranger Interaction A Social Relations Analysis


  • This research was supported by NIH (Biomedical Research Division, University of Wisconsin 141207 to the second author and R01MH4029501 to the third author) and by the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee Graduate School. The authors would like to thank Cindy Gallois and an anonymous reviewer for their editorial assistance in preparing this manuscript.


The purpose of this study was to examine self-disclosure as both a personality trait and an interaction process. Forty men and women engaged in dyadic conversations with three same and three opposite-sex strangers and their spouses on each of three occasions. The conversations were coded for type of self-disclosure (descriptive vs. evaluative) and level of intimacy. The data were analyzed using Social Relations Analysis. The results of the study provided little support for individual differences in self-disclosure. In general, individuals were inconsistent in how much they self-disclosed to others and in how much self-disclosure they elicited from others. There were no sex differences in self-disclosure. There was qualified support for the process model of self-disclosure. The level of the relationship (spouse vs. stranger) affected self-disclosure, and self-disclosure was reciprocal for both spouses and strangers. However, there were no relationship differences in self-disclosure and self-disclosure was not related to liking.