When self-disclosure works out well, it can have positive effects for interpersonal relationships. Conversely, self-disclosure that does not work out well can lead. Self-disclosure in intimate relationships: Associations with individual and relationship characteristics over time. Susan K. Sprecher. Illinois State University . Derlega and Grzelah argue that there are norms of self-disclosure. For instance, a couple in the early stages of a relationship would not expect.
People expect a gradual increase in disclosure over time.
Self-disclosure - Wikipedia
Source Self Disclosure and Romantic Relationships Self-disclosure refers to the extent to which individuals reveal personal information about themselves. Sprecher found that the amount of disclosure in couples predicted whether they would stay together for more than four years or not; the more they disclosed, the closer they felt towards each other.
Sprecher also found that there are different types of self-disclosure. Disclosures that talk about the experience of success or failure and previous sexual relationships have a greater influence on relationship satisfaction. However, this does not mean individuals should immediately disclose personal information. Derlega and Grzelah argue that there are norms of self-disclosure. For instance, a couple in the early stages of a relationship would not expect to reveal any personal information.
Levels of disclosure should increase over time - and individuals expect their disclosure to be reciprocated. To investigate whether self-disclosure can predict the success of relationships, Sprecher et al paired undergraduate students into female-female or male-female dyads.
In one condition, pairs would take in turns to ask and answer questions. The second condition had one person ask questions and the other answer. In the first condition, there were high levels of liking and closeness than in the non-reciprocal group.
This supports the idea of self-disclosure and the expectation for disclosure in return. As hypothesized, positive associations were found between self-disclosure and the individual characteristics of self-esteem, relationship esteem confidence as an intimate partnerand responsiveness and satisfaction. Source Supporting Evidence for Self-Disclosure Collins and Miller agree that self-disclosure plays a central role in the development of a relationship.
6.4 Self-Disclosure and Interpersonal Communication
They found that individuals who disclosed were liked more than those who don't, likeness was even stronger if an individual felt like the disclosure was shared only between them. This meta-analysis provides evidence in favour of self-disclosure and support for Sprecher et al's study. Supporting research for self-disclosure has found that higher levels of self-disclosure occur online, but these relationships seldom last because they lack the intimacy of a face-to-face relationship.
Cooper and Spartaler refer to this as the 'boom and bust' phenomenon. Online relationships become intense rapidly due to high levels of disclosure, 'boom'. It is assumed that individuals feel more comfortable revealing personal information online. 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.
- Self-Disclosure in Romantic Relationships
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 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.
Self-Disclosure and Interpersonal Communication
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. 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.
Other times a reason is that the children do not want their parents to worry about them, and this is called parent-centered disclosures. Disclosing in order to make oneself feel better or to ensure protection from parents is considered to be another reason for youth to disclose, and it is called self-oriented disclosure.
On a more manipulative level, some adolescents report telling their parents things based solely on gaining an advantage of some sort, whether this is the right to reveal less or the fact that being more open tends to result in more adolescent privileges. Sometimes children qualify their disclosures by merely stating that they only disclose what they feel they want to their parents.
Thus, some information is kept secret. This is dubbed selective self-disclosure. In sum, adolescents feel different pulls that make them self-disclose to their parents that can be based on the parents' needs and the children's needs. There has not been a distinct pattern found to predict which reasons will be utilized to explain disclosures by different children. For this reason it is widely believed that the reason for disclosure is largely situation- and context- dependent.
Parental knowledge of their children's whereabouts and daily lives has been linked to several positive outcomes. The more parents know about their kids, the lower the rate of behavior problems among children, and the higher the children's well-being.
Adolescents who disclose have been found to have lower rates of substance abuselower rates of risky sexual behaviors, lower anxiety levels, and lower rates of depression. It has been shown that children's understanding of friendship involves sharing secrets with another person. This mutual exchange of sharing secrets could be the norm of reciprocity, in which individuals disclose because it is a social norm.
This norm of reciprocity is shown to begin occurring for children in sixth grade. Sixth graders are able to understand the norm of reciprocity because they realize that relationships require both partners to cooperate and to mutually exchange secrets.
They realize this because they possess the cognitive ability to take another person's perspective into account and are able to understand a third person's views which allows them to view friendships as an ongoing systematic relationship. Equivalent reciprocity requires matching the level of intimacy a partner discloses, therefore, a high-intimacy disclosure would be matched with an equally revealing disclosure while a low-intimacy disclosure would be matched with little information revealed.
Another type of reciprocity is covariant reciprocity, in which disclosures are more intimate if a partner communicates a high-intimacy disclosure instead of a low-intimacy disclosure. This differs from equivalent reciprocity, which matches the level of intimacy, while covariant reciprocity only focuses on whether someone disclosed something personal or not.
Covariant reciprocity is shown to begin in fourth grade.
The first is intraindividual factors, which are those that are on the child's mind and cause him or her to need social input. Biological development, cultural and social pressures, and individual maturity determine these issues, and, thus, a child's age, personality, and background also contribute to his or her level and need of self-disclose in a relationship with a parent. These are most directly related, then, to the target of the disclosure; these targets are the parents. These are called high openers.
Even people known to disclose very little are likely to disclose more to high openers. Thus, if parents are characterized as good listeners, trustworthy, accepting, relaxed, and sympathetic, as are high openers, then they will likely elicit more disclosure from their children. Adolescents who view their parents like this are also said to see them as less controlling and less likely to react negatively to their disclosures.
Parental responsiveness has been said to be the dominant factor of influence on adolescents' rates of self-disclosure; warmth and affection facilitate more disclosures. While this sort of control is not often thought of in a positive light, some hypothesize that these kids are likely just feeling coerced to disclose subtly and without being harmed. Much of what children choose to reveal to their parents is based on previous disclosures and their parents' reactions to them.
A child with a positive memory of his or her relationship with a parent during the past years is a predictor of a higher level of self-disclosure. In fact, the view of the parent-child relationship in the past is a stronger predictor than that of the child's view of the current parent-child relationship.