Complementing the Sculpting Metaphor: Reflections on How Relationship Partners Elicit the Best or the Worst in Each Other

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

A major idea in relationship science is that partners in a close relationship can “sculpt” each other in a manner that helps them align more closely with their ideal, or true, self. This sculpting metaphor is compelling, elegant, and generative, but it also possesses previously unrecognized liabilities, especially in its conceptualization of the ideal self as a sculpture yearning for release from a block of stone that is imprisoning it. Given the powerful role that metaphors play in structuring thought, overreliance on the sculpting metaphor has blinded us to certain questions even as it has sensitized us to others. To develop a comprehensive understanding of the ways in which relationship partners bring out the best or the worst in each other, we must complement the sculpting metaphor with metaphors that direct our attention to questions that it obscures, such as (a) where the ideal self comes from and (b) whether, how much, and how the ideal self changes over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-132
Number of pages6
JournalReview of General Psychology
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Metaphor
Sculpture

Keywords

  • authenticity
  • ideal self
  • metaphor
  • Michelangelo phenomenon

Cite this

@article{14f7cb71f4a34dfbb17e1ff42274ecbf,
title = "Complementing the Sculpting Metaphor: Reflections on How Relationship Partners Elicit the Best or the Worst in Each Other",
abstract = "A major idea in relationship science is that partners in a close relationship can “sculpt” each other in a manner that helps them align more closely with their ideal, or true, self. This sculpting metaphor is compelling, elegant, and generative, but it also possesses previously unrecognized liabilities, especially in its conceptualization of the ideal self as a sculpture yearning for release from a block of stone that is imprisoning it. Given the powerful role that metaphors play in structuring thought, overreliance on the sculpting metaphor has blinded us to certain questions even as it has sensitized us to others. To develop a comprehensive understanding of the ways in which relationship partners bring out the best or the worst in each other, we must complement the sculpting metaphor with metaphors that direct our attention to questions that it obscures, such as (a) where the ideal self comes from and (b) whether, how much, and how the ideal self changes over time.",
keywords = "authenticity, ideal self, metaphor, Michelangelo phenomenon",
author = "Finkel, {Eli J.}",
year = "2019",
month = "3",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1037/gpr0000163",
language = "English",
volume = "23",
pages = "127--132",
journal = "Review of General Psychology",
issn = "1089-2680",
publisher = "American Psychological Association",
number = "1",

}

Complementing the Sculpting Metaphor : Reflections on How Relationship Partners Elicit the Best or the Worst in Each Other. / Finkel, Eli J.

In: Review of General Psychology, Vol. 23, No. 1, 01.03.2019, p. 127-132.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Complementing the Sculpting Metaphor

T2 - Reflections on How Relationship Partners Elicit the Best or the Worst in Each Other

AU - Finkel, Eli J.

PY - 2019/3/1

Y1 - 2019/3/1

N2 - A major idea in relationship science is that partners in a close relationship can “sculpt” each other in a manner that helps them align more closely with their ideal, or true, self. This sculpting metaphor is compelling, elegant, and generative, but it also possesses previously unrecognized liabilities, especially in its conceptualization of the ideal self as a sculpture yearning for release from a block of stone that is imprisoning it. Given the powerful role that metaphors play in structuring thought, overreliance on the sculpting metaphor has blinded us to certain questions even as it has sensitized us to others. To develop a comprehensive understanding of the ways in which relationship partners bring out the best or the worst in each other, we must complement the sculpting metaphor with metaphors that direct our attention to questions that it obscures, such as (a) where the ideal self comes from and (b) whether, how much, and how the ideal self changes over time.

AB - A major idea in relationship science is that partners in a close relationship can “sculpt” each other in a manner that helps them align more closely with their ideal, or true, self. This sculpting metaphor is compelling, elegant, and generative, but it also possesses previously unrecognized liabilities, especially in its conceptualization of the ideal self as a sculpture yearning for release from a block of stone that is imprisoning it. Given the powerful role that metaphors play in structuring thought, overreliance on the sculpting metaphor has blinded us to certain questions even as it has sensitized us to others. To develop a comprehensive understanding of the ways in which relationship partners bring out the best or the worst in each other, we must complement the sculpting metaphor with metaphors that direct our attention to questions that it obscures, such as (a) where the ideal self comes from and (b) whether, how much, and how the ideal self changes over time.

KW - authenticity

KW - ideal self

KW - metaphor

KW - Michelangelo phenomenon

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85055520664&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85055520664&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1037/gpr0000163

DO - 10.1037/gpr0000163

M3 - Article

VL - 23

SP - 127

EP - 132

JO - Review of General Psychology

JF - Review of General Psychology

SN - 1089-2680

IS - 1

ER -