Pleasure and Pain in Doing Well, Together: An Investigation of Performance-Related Affect in Close Relationships

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In a series of four studies, the self-evaluation maintenance (SEM) model is used to predict peoples' self-reported affective responses to doing better or worse than their partners. Both self-protective reactions to comparison (i.e., those predicted by the original SEM model) and empathic reactions to the partner's response (i.e., those predicted by the extended SEM model) were obtained. In addition, as predicted on the basis of both models, comparisons with romantic partners resulted in a different pattern of self-reported affect than did comparisons with strangers. Unexpectedly, it appeared that empathic effects were minimal or absent among dating partners when comparisons were in areas of high self-relevance.

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