The Unbearable Lightness of Positive Illusions: Engaged Individuals' Explanations of Unrealistically Positive Relationship Perceptions



Recent scholarship suggests that positive illusions about one's partner are normal in satisfying intimate relationships. Researchers have relied on the logical argument that agreement with extremely favorable evaluations of one's partner constitutes a positive illusion. Engaged individuals were asked to explain their responses to a measure of positive illusions (Idealistic Distortion scale) to examine whether their accounts were consistent with the concept of positive illusions. The results suggest that (a) the Idealistic Distortion scale generally functioned as its authors intended because most participants responded to the items at face value, (b) engaged individuals used several methods to maintain highly positive perceptions of their partners, and (c) moderate and low Idealistic Distortion scores were somewhat equivocal and may require in-depth item analysis for clarification.