Self-Evaluation Maintenance: A Social Psychological Approach to Interpersonal Relationships
Ralph Erber DePaul University Abraham Tesser University of Georgia
In this chapter, we wish to look at interpersonal relationships from a self- evaluation maintenance perspective. Specifically, we try to show how a recent (e.g., Tesser, 1988) model of self-evaluation maintenance (SEM) can be applied to the initiation, maintenance, and termination of interpersonal relationships. We also compare our self-evaluation maintenance perspective with previous theoretical frameworks, and discuss the extent to which understanding self-evaluation maintenance processes can enhance our understanding of the dynamics of interpersonal relationships.
Bill and Ralph have been friends for years. Bill is a professional basketball player, and Ralph is a psychologist. Ralph frequently and proudly talks about his friend's accomplishments on the court. Similarly, Bill likes to brag about and takes pride in Ralph's papers and conference presentations.
Mary and Joe are a young couple blessed with fulfilling jobs and financial security. In addition, they share many common interests. Both like to travel, dine out, and go to the theater. However, chess is a passion for both. After all, that's where they met and fell in love. And while their relationship seems to benefit from going on trips and eating exotic foods, their passion for chess seems to get in the way sometimes. Every time Mary wins a match, Joe just doesn't seem the same. Similarly, Joe thinks that Mary is a little icy after he has won.