Self-expansion Motivation and Including Other in the Self
Elaine N. Aron
State University of New York at Stony Brook, NY, USA
In this chapter we examine thinking and research relevant to what has come to be known as the self-expansion model of motivation and cognition in close relationships. We begin with an explanation of the key elements of the model, followed by a comment on the utility of a model of this kind in terms of the role of metaphor in science. The second and third sections of the chapter consider in some detail two key processes suggested by the model, discussing the theoretical foundation and research relevant to each. These two processes are, first, that relationship satisfaction is increased through the association of the relationship with self-expansion and, second, that the relationship means cognitively that each partner has included the other in his or her self. The fourth section considers more briefly some implications of the model for three other relationship-relevant issues: selectivity in attraction, motivations for unrequited love, and the effects on the self of falling in love. We conclude with a brief consideration of other relationship-relevant ramifications of the model.