To please or to neglect your partner? Attachment avoidance and relationship-driven self-improvement

Authors

  • CHIN MING HUI,

    Corresponding author
    1. Chinese University of Hong Kong
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    • Chin Ming Hui and Michael Harris Bond, Department of Psychology, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong.

    • Chin Ming Hui is now at the Department of Psychology, Northwestern University.

  • MICHAEL HARRIS BOND

    1. Chinese University of Hong Kong
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Chin Ming Hui and Michael Harris Bond, Department of Psychology, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong.


  • The authors thank the editors, Susan Branje and Rebecca Adams, and four anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. In addition, we acknowledge the support of an internal research grant from the Chinese University and Phoebe Mui for her hard work in preparing the second study.

Chin Ming Hui, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, 2029 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208-2710, e-mail: cmhui@u.northwestern.edu.

Abstract

Self-improvement is a potential resource in sustaining relationships. A series of 2 studies with Hong Kong Chinese college samples sought to examine whether attribute-specific, reflected regard from the partner determines self-improvement efforts on those attributes and whether attachment avoidance moderates the association. These studies measured self-improvement effort by retrospective self-report (Study 1) and evaluation of objects pertinent to attribute-specific self-improvement goals (i.e., related self-help books; Study 2). In general, the results showed that individuals improved their personal qualities when they perceived these qualities as relatively less favorably regarded by their partner. Moreover, attachment avoidance weakened such an association. The role of attachment avoidance in relationship-driven self-improvement seems to reflect strategic preference rather than a downplaying of relationship importance.

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