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Perceived responses to capitalization attempts are influenced by self-esteem and relationship threat

Authors

  • SHANNON M. SMITH,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Rochester
      Shannon M. Smith, Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627, e-mail: ssmith@psych.rochester.edu.
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    • Shannon M. Smith and Harry T. Reis, Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester.

  • HARRY T. REIS

    1. University of Rochester
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Shannon M. Smith and Harry T. Reis, Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester.


  • Study 1 was supported by Time-Sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (http://tess.experimentcentral.org/). Special thanks to Cheryl Carmichael, Peter Caprariello, Fen-Fang Tsai, and Michael Maniaci for their invaluable help with this research. In addition, we gratefully acknowledge the reviewers who provided excellent feedback on prior versions of this article.

Shannon M. Smith, Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627, e-mail: ssmith@psych.rochester.edu.

Abstract

Discussing good news builds strength in relationships. In particular, perceiving a close other as enthusiastic about good fortune can help individuals maintain relational strength when relationship security is threatened. In an experiment and a daily diary study, how self-esteem moderates perceptions of a partner's response to these capitalization attempts following relationship threats were examined. After having been primed with relationship threat (Study 1) or on days following relationship conflict (Study 2), low-self-esteem persons perceived less partner enthusiasm about their good news, but high-self-esteem persons perceived more partner enthusiasm. Self-esteem had no effect after a neutral prime or no-conflict days. These results indicate that capitalization as a strategy for repairing relationships may depend on the partners' self-esteem.

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