Susan Sprecher, Susan S. Hendrick (). Self-Disclosure in Intimate Relationships: Associations with Individual and Relationship Characteristics Over Time. Although men and women are very different when it comes to self-disclosure, usually it is done as a method of increasing intimacy in a relationship, attempting to. Self-disclosure in intimate relationships: Associations with individual and relationship characteristics over time. Susan K. Sprecher. Illinois State University .
By doing this, we decrease the size of our hidden area and increase the size of our open area, which increases our shared reality. The reactions that we get from people as we open up to them help us form our self-concepts and also help determine the trajectory of the relationship.
If the person reacts favorably to our disclosures and reciprocates disclosure, then the cycle of disclosure continues and a deeper relationship may be forged. The upper right pane contains information that is known to others but not to us. For example, we may be unaware of the fact that others see us as pushy or as a leader. Engaging in perception checking and soliciting feedback from others can help us learn more about our blind area.
The bottom right pane represents our unknown area, as it contains information not known to ourselves or others. To become more self-aware, we must solicit feedback from others to learn more about our blind pane, but we must also explore the unknown pane. To discover the unknown, we have to get out of our comfort zones and try new things. We have to pay attention to the things that excite or scare us and investigate them more to see if we can learn something new about ourselves.
By being more aware of what is contained in each of these panes and how we can learn more about each one, we can more competently engage in self-disclosure and use this process to enhance our interpersonal relationships.
Facebook and Twitter offer convenient opportunities to stay in touch with friends, family, and coworkers, but are people using them responsibly? Even though some colleges are offering seminars on managing privacy online, we still hear stories of self-disclosure gone wrong, such as the football player from the University of Texas who was kicked off the team for posting racist comments about the president or the student who was kicked out of his private, Christian college after a picture of him dressed in drag surfaced on Facebook.
My Parents Joined Facebook. How do you manage your privacy and self-disclosures online? Why or why not? Are you or would you be friends with a parent on Facebook?
If you already are friends with a parent, did you change your posting habits or privacy settings once they joined? The Process of Self-Disclosure There are many decisions that go into the process of self-disclosure. We have many types of information we can disclose, but we have to determine whether or not we will proceed with disclosure by considering the situation and the potential risks. Then we must decide when, where, and how to disclose.
Since all these decisions will affect our relationships, we will examine each one in turn. Four main categories for disclosure include observations, thoughts, feelings, and needs Hargie, Observations include what we have done and experienced. For example, I could tell you that I live in a farmhouse in Illinois. If I told you that I think my move from the city to the country was a good decision, I would be sharing my thoughts, because I included a judgment about my experiences.
There are some exceptions to this. I imagine that we have all been in a situation where we said more about ourselves to a stranger than we normally would.
Generally speaking, some people are naturally more transparent and willing to self-disclose, while others are more opaque and hesitant to reveal personal information Jourard, Self-focused reasons for disclosure include having a sense of relief or catharsis, clarifying or correcting information, or seeking support. Self-focused reasons for not disclosing include fear of rejection and loss of privacy. In other words, we may disclose to get something off our chest in hopes of finding relief, or we may not disclose out of fear that the other person may react negatively to our revelation.
Other-focused reasons for disclosure include a sense of responsibility to inform or educate. Other-focused reasons for not disclosing include feeling like the other person will not protect the information.
Interpersonal reasons for disclosure involve desires to maintain a trusting and intimate relationship. Interpersonal reasons for not disclosing include fear of losing the relationship or deeming the information irrelevant to the particular relationship.
Your decision to disclose an affair in order to be open with your partner and hopefully work through the aftermath together or withhold that information out of fear he or she will leave you is based on interpersonal reasons. Finally, situational reasons may be the other person being available, directly asking a question, or being directly involved in or affected by the information being disclosed.
Situational reasons for not disclosing include the person being unavailable, a lack of time to fully discuss the information, or the lack of a suitable i. For example, finding yourself in a quiet environment where neither person is busy could lead to disclosure, while a house full of company may not. Deciding when to disclose something in a conversation may not seem as important as deciding whether or not to disclose at all. But deciding to disclose and then doing it at an awkward time in a conversation could lead to negative results.
If you know they have an appointment or you have to go to class at a certain time, disclosing just before that time could limit your immediate exposure to any negative reaction. Sometimes self-disclosure is unplanned. Someone may ask you a direct question or disclose personal information, which leads you to reciprocate disclosure. In the case of a direct question, you may feel comfortable answering, you may give an indirect or general answer, or you may feel enough pressure or uncertainty to give a dishonest answer.
If someone unexpectedly discloses, you may feel the need to reciprocate by also disclosing something personal. Face-to-face disclosures may feel more genuine or intimate given the shared physical presence and ability to receive verbal and nonverbal communication. There is also an opportunity for immediate verbal and nonverbal feedback, such as asking follow-up questions or demonstrating support or encouragement through a hug.
If the person reacts negatively, you may feel uncomfortable, pressured to stay, or even fearful. If you choose a mediated channel such as an e-mail or a letter, text, note, or phone call, you may seem less genuine or personal, but you have more control over the situation in that you can take time to carefully choose your words, and you do not have to immediately face the reaction of the other person. This can be beneficial if you fear a negative or potentially violent reaction.
Another disadvantage of choosing a mediated channel, however, is the loss of nonverbal communication that can add much context to a conversation. Although our discussion of the choices involved in self-disclosure so far have focused primarily on the discloser, self-disclosure is an interpersonal process that has much to do with the receiver of the disclosure.
Effects of Disclosure on the Relationship The process of self-disclosure is circular. An individual self-discloses, the recipient of the disclosure reacts, and the original discloser processes the reaction. How the receiver interprets and responds to the disclosure are key elements of the process. You may make a dispositional attribution that connects the cause of her disclosure to her personality by thinking, for example, that she is outgoing, inappropriate for the workplace, or fishing for information.
If the personality trait to which you attribute the disclosure is positive, then your reaction to the disclosure is more likely to be positive.
Situational attributions identify the cause of a disclosure with the context or surroundings in which it takes place. Interpersonal attributions identify the relationship between sender and receiver as the cause of the disclosure. There may be added burdens if the information shared with you is a secret. As was noted earlier, there are clear risks involved in self-disclosure of intimate or potentially stigmatizing information if the receiver of the disclosure fails to keep that information secure.
This is not always a bad thing. There are two types of reciprocity: Turn-taking is when partners immediately self-disclose with one another and extended is when disclosure happens over a period of time, in which one partner may be the only one disclosing while the other just listens. Those who engage in turn taking reciprocity are shown to like their interaction partners more than those who engage in extended reciprocity.
Turn taking partners are also shown to feel closer and similar to each other and to enjoy the other's company more than extended pairs. This can be explained by the social attraction-trust hypothesis because the partners perceive the discloser as liking and trusting them because they disclosed personal information. Those who engage in extended reciprocity are affected by the social exchange theory and the norm of reciprocity which can account for the lower degree of liking.
Since extended reciprocity limits reciprocating disclosure it creates an imbalance in disclosure which violates both of these theories. This is called perceived partner reciprocity, and it is critical to the self-disclosure process in developing relationships. It is extremely important that when a speaker discloses personal information their partner also discloses something personally relevant.
It is also essential that the listener understand, validate and care about what the speaker is disclosing. If the speaker does not feel accepted by the listener then they may not disclose something to them in the future, which stops the development of intimacy. Emotional disclosures are also shown to foster intimacy more than factual disclosures. Factual disclosures reveal facts and information about the self e. Emotional disclosures can increase intimacy because they allow the listener to confirm and support the discloser's self-view.
One must feel accepted in order to feel comfortable enough to self-disclose. Without acceptance, one partner will withdraw and fail to reveal personal facts within the relationship. Sharing ourselves also brings us out of our imaginary worlds and allows us to see the realities of the world we live in.
There is also evidence that someone who introduces himself with more intimacy is more likely to facilitate self-disclosure and intimacy with the recipient.
Thus, self-disclosure breeds intimacy. It is hard for humans to accurately judge how fully another is disclosing to them. Although self-monitoring is measured on a continuous scale, researchers often group individuals into two types: Someone who is a high self-monitor tends to examine a situation more closely and adjusts their behavior in order "fit in" with others in the scenario.
High self-monitors tend to behave in a friendlier and extroverted manner in order to be well liked by peers. A low self-monitor does not do this and tends to follow their own emotions and thoughts when behaving in public. By noticing these cues, high self-monitors tend to reciprocate equally in their self-disclosures.
The Dos and Don’ts of Self-Disclosure in Romantic Relationships
It can also be explained by social exchange theory. Research shows that high self-monitors are more uncomfortable when paired with a low self-monitor because low self-monitors do not tend to disclose intimate details so the balance in the conversation is uneven. High self-monitors are also shown to be the "pace-setters" of the conversation and generally initiate and maintain the flow of a conversation. This may be because of informational effects whereby happy people tend to access more positive information which leads them to behave in a more optimistic and confident manner.
Unhappy people tend to access more negative information which increases the likelihood of cautious, pessimistic and restrained communications. Assimilation effects rely on an individual's prior knowledge to guide their behavior in a situation and accommodation effects rely on careful monitoring of a situation and a greater attention to concrete information. Assimilative processing is ideal for safe, routine situations while accommodative processing is for problematic situations.
Happy people tend to use assimilative processing, which leads to more daring and direct disclosures, while unhappy people use accommodative processing, which leads them to be more cautious in their disclosures.
These accommodating effects for unhappy people tend to increase reciprocity because these individuals will match the level of disclosure from their partner but will not go beyond that. The exception to this is lonelinessfor lonely individuals have shown decreased rates of self-disclosure. Androgynous people disclose more intimately across contexts than do notably masculine and feminine people.
Women self-disclose to enhance a relationship, while men self-disclose relative to their control and vulnerabilities. Men initially disclose more in heterosexual relationships.
Women tend to put more emphasis on intimate communication with same-sex friends than men do. While people with high self-esteem tend to reveal themselves more, the reverse is also true, where self-esteem is enhanced by a partner's disclosures. For both genders, the state of a relationship and the feelings associated with it are major contributors to how much each spouse reveals himself or herself. Husbands and wives in a relationship marked with satisfaction, love, and commitment rate their own levels of disclosure highly as well as their perceptions of their spouses' disclosures.
Among men, those who are or appear more "tough" are less likely to disclose and express themselves. We like to present ourselves in ways that we feel are congruent with our own self-conceptsand what we tell others about ourselves often becomes how we actually are. This allows an even deeper level of understanding between two people and fosters even more intimacy as a result of the disclosures.
Likewise, relationship satisfaction was found to correlate with sexual disclosures. For men, high levels of sexual self-disclosure predicted higher relationship satisfaction, though this was not found to be true for women. But, sexual satisfaction was linked to higher levels of sexual self-disclosure for both men and women. Further, those who disclose more sexually have been found to have less sexual dysfunction. Partners learn a shared communication system, and disclosures are a large part of building that system, which has been found to be very beneficial in highly satisfying relationships.
Surveys done by a variety of researchers have found that people list marriage as the ultimate form of intimacy. Spouses feel responsible, in that they need to be responsive to their partners' self-disclosures, more so than they feel obligated to respond to the disclosures of people in their other relationships. The results show that the actual disclosures in the process of self-disclosure may not be the only factors that facilitate intimacy in relationships.
Husbands' intimacy was most strongly predicted by self-disclosure, while perceived responsiveness to disclosure was the stronger predictor for wives' feelings of intimacy with their husbands.
Those who think their husbands are not sharing enough are likely to break up sooner. This finding links to the idea of positive illusions in relationship studies. On the other hand, wives are thought to value more the feelings of being understood and validated by their husbands' responsiveness to their disclosures, and this is the more important factor in their feelings of intimacy in their marriages. Similarly, the wives who rated their global satisfaction highest also had higher levels of daily intimacy.
Greater marital satisfaction was found among those who had the higher ratings of intimacy. Further, couples with high levels of demand-withdraw communication rated their average daily intimacy as much lower. This suggests a relationship between one's overall marital satisfaction and the amount of intimacy in a relationship, though no causation can be proven with the present research.
Likewise, less intimacy leads to more negative disclosures between partners. The breadth of disclosure decreases with decreasing intimacy as originally predicted, but couples actually disclose more deeply.
It is speculated that these results come about because a strained relationship causes spouses to restrict their topics of communication breadthbut that they are also more willing to discuss deeply intimate subjects: Thus, while they are sharing more deeply, it is mostly in a negative light. The researchers then speculated that people might actually avoid disclosing very personal facts in the most satisfying relationships because they are fearful that their positive relationships will be negatively affected.
It is suggested that at this stage partners know each other quite well and are very satisfied with what they communicate already. Some speculate that disclosures and their respective responses from a spouse lead to intimacy between the partners, and these exchanges accumulate into global and positive evaluations of the relationship by the couple.
In support, studies show that couples who report greater levels of intimacy in self-reports of their daily interactions are also those who report increased global relationship functioning in their marriages. As a group gets larger, people become less willing to disclose. Research has shown that individuals are more willing to disclose in groups of two than in larger groups and are more willing to disclose in a group of three rather than four.
The actual disclosures mimic the willingness to disclose as individuals disclose more in pairs than they do in the larger groups. There are also gender differences in disclosure depending on group size. Men feel more inhibited in dyads, match the intimacy of the disclosure from their partner, and do not offer more information. Women, on the other hand, feel more inhibited in larger groups and disclose more personal information in dyads.
Self-disclosure by the therapist is often thought to facilitate increased disclosure by the client, which should result in increased understanding of the problem at hand.
It helps to acknowledge the therapeutic relationship as a fundamental healing source,  as an alliance between client and therapist is founded on self-disclosure from both parties. In some respects it is similar to modeling appropriate social behavior.
Establishing common interests between therapists and clients is useful to maintain a degree of reality. Immediate disclosure shows positive views of the therapeutic process in which the two are engaging and communicates self-involving feelings and information about the therapist's professional background.
Many see the benefits of this type of disclosure. Non-immediate disclosure, however, is the revealing of more about the therapist than his or her professional background and includes personal insight.
This type is rather controversial to psychologists in the present day; many feel it may be more detrimental than it is beneficial in the long-run, but there are significant findings that contradict this claim as well. Direct disclosures grant the client information about personal feelings, background, and professional issues.
Indirect disclosures are those not explicitly granted, such as pictures on the therapist's desk and walls or wearing his or her wedding band. The most common reasons are: The preferred therapeutic approach and the effectiveness of treatments are two of the most common. Many also reveal their views of raising children, stress-coping methods, items that convey respect for the client, and emotions that will validate those the client has expressed.
Anecdotes about sexual attraction, dreams, and personal problems seem to be disclosed to subjects with the least frequency by therapists. Early psychodynamic theorists strongly disagreed with the incorporation of therapist self-disclosure in the client-therapist relationship.
Ferenczi notably maintained his belief that self-disclosure was of the utmost importance in children's therapy for traumas in that a neutral, flat therapist would only cause the child to relive the trauma.
Self-theorists believe much the same as object-relations theorists. Intersubjective and relational schools of thought encourage disclosure due to its ability to bring subjectivity into therapy, which they deem a necessary element to real healing. They maintain that therapeutic relationships cannot be initiated and changed without intentional disclosures from both therapist and client.
Humanistic theorists want to trigger personal growth in clients and feel that a strong relationship with a therapist is a good facilitator of such, so long as the therapist's disclosures are genuine. Seeing that weakness and struggle are common among all people, even therapists, is useful to clients in the humanistic therapy setting. In order for existential psychologists to help clients, they try to disclose their own coping methods to serve as sources of inspiration to find one's own answers to questions of life.
For therapists who value feminismit is important to disclose personal feelings so that their clients have total freedom to choose the correct therapist and to eliminate power fights within the therapeutic setting. The ever-popular cognitive-behavioral approach also encourages disclosure in therapy so that clients can normalize their own thoughts with someone else's, have their thoughts challenged, and reinforce positive expectations and behaviors.
Clearly, today's therapists are mostly supportive of disclosure in therapy, as the early psychoanalytic taboo of such is slowly being overridden through the recognition of many schools of thought.
Most identify the benefit of self-disclosures in facilitating rewarding relationships and helping to reach therapeutic goals. Certain types of disclosures are almost universally recognized as necessary in the early stages of therapy, such as an explanation of the therapeutic approach to be used and particular characteristics of the therapist.
It is thought that disclosing the details of a traumatic experience can greatly help with the organization of related thoughts, and the process of retelling is itself a method of healing. An understanding between therapist and client is achieved when the client can share his or her perceptions without feeling threatened by judgments or unwanted advice.
Further, expressing emotions lessens the toll of the autonomic nervous system and has been shown in several studies to improve overall physical health in this way.
The Dos and Don’ts of Self-Disclosure in Romantic Relationships | rockstarrose
The Pennebaker Writing Disclosure Paradigm is a method commonly used in therapy settings to facilitate writing about one's experiences. Exposure theory also offers support in that reliving and talking about a negative event should help the negative affect to be more accepted by the individual overtime through extinction.
Supported heavily is the idea of mutuality: The modeling hypothesis suggests that the client will model the disclosures of the therapist, thereby learning expression and gaining skills in communication. Some argue for the reinforcement model, saying that the use of self-disclosure by therapists is purely to reinforce self-disclosure in their clients. Lastly, the social exchange hypothesis sees the relationship between client and therapist as an interaction that requires a guide: Studies have also shown the disadvantageous effects of keeping secretsfor they serve as stressors over time.
Concealing one's thoughts, actions, or ailments does not allow a therapist to examine and work through the client's problem. Unwanted, recurrent thoughts, feelings of anxiousness and depressionsleeping problems, and many other physiological, psychological, and physical issues have been seen as the results of withholding important information from others.
Therapy sessions for personality disordersbehavior disordersimpulse control disordersand psychotic disorders seem to use therapist self-disclosure far less often.
Their likability was increased by their willingness to disclose to their clients. The three dimensions mentioned have been said to be of utmost importance when determining one's likability. Additionally, a therapist who discloses too frequently risks losing focus in the session, talking too much about himself or herself and not allowing the client to actually harvest the benefits of the disclosures in the session through client-focused reflection.
Research shows that "soft" architecture and decor in a room promotes disclosure from clients. This is achieved with rugs, framed photos, and mellow lighting. It is thought that this environment more closely imitates the setting in which friends would share feelings, and so the same might be facilitated between counselor and client.
Further, a room should not be too crowded nor too small in order to foster good disclosures from the client  Effectiveness[ edit ] The efficacy of self-disclosure is widely debated by researchers, and findings have yielded a variety of results, both positive and negative. A typical method of researching such ideas involves self-reports of both therapists and clients.
The evaluations of therapists on the positive effects of their own disclosures is far less positive than that of clients' self-reports.
Clients are especially likely to assert that the disclosures of their therapists help in their recovery if the disclosures are perceived as more intimate in content. Much of these results, however, are linked to how skilled the therapist is in disclosing. Therapists must choose wisely in what they disclose and when.
A client who is suffering greatly or facing a horrific crisis is not likely to benefit much from therapist self-disclosures. If a client at any point feels he or she, should be acting as a source of support to the therapist, disclosure is only hindering the healing process. Further, clients might become overwhelmed if their initial ideas of therapy do not include any degree of self-disclosure from their counselor, and this will not lead to successful therapy sessions either.
It is also a risk to reveal too much about a therapist because the client may begin to see the healer as flawed and untrustworthy. Clients should not feel like they are in competition for time to speak and express themselves during therapy sessions.
The American Psychological Association supports the technique, calling it "promising and probably effective". Using "I" statementsa therapist emits a certain level of care not otherwise felt by many clients, and they are likely to benefit from this feeling of being cared for.
In cases of a therapist needing to provide feedback, self-involving statements are nearly inevitable, for he or she must state a true opinion of what the client has disclosed.
These sorts of "I" statements, when used correctly and professionally, are usually seen as especially validating by clients. Largely, the use of self-involving statements by therapists is seen as a way of making the interaction more authentic for the client, and such exchanges can have a great impact on the success of the treatment at hand.
Spouses are encouraged, or even required, to disclose unexpressed emotions and feelings to their partners. The partners' responses are practiced to be nonjudgmental and accepting. Therapists utilize techniques like rehearsal and the teaching of listening skills. Some fear that this is of little long-term help to the couple because in their real lives, there is no mediator or guiding therapist's hand when one is disclosing to another.
Goals like these, as reported by young people fairly universally, can affect how they disclose to their parents to a large degree.
Some go so far as to use the rate of self-disclosure between parents and children as a dominant measure of the strength of their relationship and its health. When information is withheld, distance is created and closeness is nearly impossible to facilitate. Teens pick and choose what to tell their parents, thus limiting their control over the teens' daily activities.
Adolescents' unique preferences and interests are expressed. If these vary from their parents', they establish an identity of their own.Relationship Full Disclosure
Thus, they moderate their parents' potential reactions. Because of this, it is important for parents to be aware of how they react to their children's disclosures, for these reactions will be used as judgment calls for the children's' future sharing.