Close Relationships: Key Readings

Close Relationships: Key Readings

Close Relationships: Key Readings

Close Relationships: Key Readings


Each of the chapters in this reader is written by leading scholars in the area of relationships, reflecting the diversity of the field and including both contemporary and key historical papers for comprehensive coverage of research.


Ellen Berscheid • University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus

This article briefly outlines the salutary implications for
psychology of the development of a science of
Interpersonal relationships, which has emerged as
multidisciplinary in nature and international in scope.
Discussed are the potentials of relationship science: to
unite psychological scholars with other social, behavioral,
and biological scientists; to help integrate many
subdisciplines within psychology; to bridge the chasm
between researcher and practitioner; to extend knowledge
of human behavior to people’s daily lives and natural
surroundings; and to inform issues of national concern.
The realization of these potentials, however, requires
transcendence of psychologists’ traditional individualistic
orientation, as well as more research on the impact of
affect on cognition and research on the impact of
relationships’ exterior environments on their interior

Garrison Keillor has observed that those of us who live in Lake Wobegon country were as-signed three seasons rather than the customary four—we’re either getting over winter, or we’re getting ready for winter, or it is winter. But he forgot to mention that we were gifted with a very special day that separates our winter season from our getting-overwinter season: We awaken one morning and discover that if we squint our eyes and cock our heads just so, we can see that overnight Mother Nature has cloaked our trees in a diaphanous haze of green. It is then that we know winter is over and that our bleak landscape has begun its magical metamorphosis.

Today, if you squint your eyes and cock your heads just so, you can see the greening of a new science of interpersonal relationships. In this article, I discuss its potential to transform the landscape of psychology and, in accordance with the 1998 American Psychological Association Convention theme of “Prevention: Building Strength, Resilience, and Health in Young People,” its potential to inform issues of national concern. If APA President Martin Seligman is correct that we psychologists, in trying “to undo the worst things in life…, forgot the mission of building the best things in life” (Seligman, 1998, p. 2), then psychology’s contributions to the development of relationship science will go a long way to redressing that imbalance, for virtually every study of human happiness reveals that satisfying close relationships constitute the very best thing in life; there is nothing people consider more meaningful and essential to their . . .

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