“You’ve Changed”: Low Self-Concept Clarity Predicts Lack of Support for Partner Change

Lydia F. Emery*, Wendi L. Gardner, Eli J. Finkel, Kathleen L. Carswell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


People often pursue self-change, and having a romantic partner who supports these changes increases relationship satisfaction. However, most existing research focuses only on the experience of the person who is changing. What predicts whether people support their partner’s change? People with low self-concept clarity resist self-change, so we hypothesized that they would be unsupportive of their partner’s changes. People with low self-concept clarity did not support their partner’s change (Study 1a), because they thought they would have to change, too (Study 1b). Low self-concept clarity predicted failing to support a partner’s change, but not vice versa (Studies 2 and 3), and only for larger changes (Study 3). Not supporting a partner’s change predicted decreases in relationship quality for both members of the couple (Studies 2 and 3). This research underscores the role of partners in self-change, suggesting that failing to support a partner’s change may stem from self-concept confusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-331
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes



  • close relationships
  • relationship quality
  • self-change
  • self-concept clarity
  • support

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