Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair and Committee

Simine Vazire


Do romantic partners see each other realistically or do they have overly positive perceptions of each other? Research has shown that realism and positivity co-exist in romantic partners' perceptions: Boyes & Fletcher, 2007). The current study examines a novel approach to understanding how this seemingly paradoxical effect occurs. Specifically, we test the hypothesis that people are aware that others do not see their partners as positively as they do. Using both mean differences and correlational approaches, we test the notion that, despite their own biased perceptions, people have insight into how their partners see themselves: i.e., identity accuracy) and how others see their partners: i.e., reputation accuracy). We focus the first test of this phenomenon on perceptions of attractiveness, a highly evaluative trait important for mate selection and partner perception. Our results suggest that romantic partners have a sophisticated level of knowledge about each other, and this multi-faceted knowledge helps fulfill motives driven by both esteem- and epistemic-related needs: i.e., the need to see partners positively and realistically).


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