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Lightening the load: perceived partner responsiveness fosters more positive appraisals of relational sacrifices

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 07:58 authored by Mariko VissermanMariko Visserman, Amy Muise, Francesca Righetti, Rebecca M Horne, Bonnie M Le, Stéphane Côté, Emily A Impett
Romantic partners regularly sacrifice their own self-interest when partners’ needs and preferences diverge. The present work examines the role of perceived partner responsiveness (PPR)—impressions that one’s partner is understanding, caring, and validating—in positively shaping people’s appraisals of their relational sacrifices. In Study 1, a preregistered experiment of romantically involved individuals (N = 548), we manipulated PPR (high, low, or control) in a hypothetical sacrifice scenario. In Study 2, we tracked romantic couples’ (N = 126) in-lab conversations about a sacrifice (Study 2a), and their sacrifices in daily life (Study 2b). In Study 3, romantic couples (N = 111) engaged in lab conversations about a sacrifice that entailed making a change that one partner desired from the other, and reported on their progress 2 weeks later. In Study 4, we surveyed romantically involved individuals (N = 230) who recently made a life-changing sacrifice by relocating to a new city or country to support their partner’s career. Across studies, results showed that higher PPR fostered more positive sacrifice appraisals (i.e., lower costs and viewing the act as less of a sacrifice, greater satisfaction, greater personal and relational benefits, lower regret) and greater sacrifice behavior (Study 3)—in part due to greater closeness with and lower negative affect toward the partner. Additionally, Study 4 suggested that PPR partly originated from the partner’s efforts to fulfill fundamental psychological needs (i.e., autonomy, competence, relatedness). Thus, PPR can play a critical role in lightening the load of daily and even life-changing sacrifices.


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Journal of Personality and Social Psychology




American Psychological Association (APA)





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©American Psychological Association, 2022. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. The final article is available, upon publication, at:

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