Self-Concept and the Reaction of a Significant Other: A Comparison of Husbands and Wives*


  • *

    Appreciation is expressed to Richard D. Warren, Douglas M. Marks, David Franks and Gordon Booth for their help in the preparation of this manuscript. Appreciation is also expressed to those who reviewed an initial draft for the Sociological Inquiry for their helpful comments and suggestions.


This paper explores the relationship between an actor's self-concept and a significant other's actual and perceived descriptions of the actor. One hundred sixteen married couples were interviewed. Three areas of investigation were developed: role-taking as social influence, accuracy in role-taking and agreement and evaluation between spouses. The data did not support the reflective self-concept notion. There was significant discrepancy between husbands’and wives’descriptions of each other which resulted from actors underestimating their spouse's evaluation of them, and wives appearing more generous than husbands in describing spouses as desirable.