WHEN WE WANT DIFFERENT THINGS: SELF-MONITORING AS A MODERATOR OF THE IDEAL STANDARDS MODEL

Date

2011-12

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Abstract

One way individuals evaluate the success of their relationship is through the consistency between their ideal standards and actual perceptions of their romantic partner and relationship. The ideal standards model suggests that greater consistency predicts a more positive evaluation of one’s partner and relationship. The proposed research tested self-monitoring as a moderator of this association. It was hypothesized that ideal-perception consistency would predict relationship satisfaction (H1) and that the importance of meeting one’s ideal standard for predicting relationship quality would differ for low and high self-monitors depending on the dimension. Specifically, with the warmth/trustworthiness dimension, higher ideal-perception consistency would predict higher relationship quality, especially for low self-monitors (H2a). With the vitality/status/passion dimension, higher ideal-perception consistency would predict higher relationship quality, especially for high self-monitors (H2b). Individuals in relationships (N = 172) completed an online survey. Five approaches to discrepancy were conducted to compare findings across multiple operationalizations. Results revealed that Hypothesis 1 was supported in three of the five methods. Specifically, findings from the ideal standards model replicated using the direct approach, within-subject correlation approach, and the covariance approach. The absolute-value approach and interaction approach did not yield significant results. Further, Hypothesis 2 was not supported in all cases but one: using the direct approach and the vitality/status/passion dimension, ideal-perception consistency predicted higher relationship quality, especially for high self-monitors. This finding held when controlling for anxious attachment, gender, and relationship length. Implications and future research directions are discussed.

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Keywords

Relationships, Self-monitoring

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