The Dynamic Self
The Effects of Self-Concept in Relationship Commitment
Professor Lauren Winsceski
This study examines how self-concept influences commitment in relationships. Self concept is a dynamic variable that affects commitment in relationships. The purpose of this study is to further examine the factors of interpersonal relationships and understand the relationship commitment and self-concept effect on each other. Study 1 is a correlational self-report study of self concept clarity scale and commitment as relationship longevity. Study 2 is a between subject experimental design of manipulation of high and low levels of self concept identity with list of achievements in group 1 and group 2 and measures the commitment as relationship longevity. Examining the effects of self concept in interpersonal relationships commitment allows a understanding to the importance of self concept influences meaningful relationships.
Keywords: self-concept, commitment, interpersonal relationships
The Dynamic Self. The Effects of Self-Concept in Relationship Commitment.
The inevitable paradoxical relationship of self and the other is hidden within the larger relationships between our self, and our relationships with others that seem separated. As studies look closer at the relationships of others, commitment to the relationship is centered around the inner self, which is the self-other relationship. In knowing thyself, we must know the other. It is our personal experience and relationships with the world that bond us to Buber’s I-Thou relationship (Aron, A, Aron, N, ; Smollan, 1992). Motivation and commitment to a relationships is strengthened by a clear relationship with the self. The level of quality of the relationship with the inner self as experienced as the self-other influences the level of commitment and motivation in relationships with others. In the dynamic of the self and whole relationship experience in an individual and the larger collective, the connection between motivation and self bring an experienced whole of the psyche. The purpose of this study is to look closer at the dynamic of commitment and motivation influenced by the relationship with the self, pointing to larger implication of a whole in the psyche that expands in relationships with our self and others.
Self-Concept is how we view ourselves and our purpose in the world and serves as an important factor within social studies of interacting with others, and even within ourselves by internal interactions and relationship with the self. The level of clarity of our self-concept drives the quality of social interactions and relationships, even down to the individual level of the relationship with yourself. In viewing the self, we not only reflect internally but connect the self in the larger environment in which is it developed from, as a dynamic self. (Pietromonaco ; Barrett, 2000). This study shows the integration of the self and context as a dynamic whole, this relates to theories of attachment and points to the limits of attachment tested at the general level and the dynamic of attachment at the specific level. Previous research has shown that the self-other link shows convergent validity and test-retest reliability using the Inclusion of Other in the Self Scale with the Relationship Closeness Inventory, and Sternberg’s Intimacy Scale, as well as the predictive validity of the relationship longevity. (Aron, A., Aron, N., & Smollan, 1992). This study allows a practical measurement tool of the self in examining close relationships, however it is towards a specific context. Current research has confirmed past studies of identity and motivation connection showing that the way we view ourselves increases motivation. For example our traits that we focus on in desire or not desirable will be either increased or decreased motivation related to that view of identity. (Browman, Destin, & Molden, 2017). This study shows an activation of identity through identity traits that rise the motivation towards the activation in terms of promotion or prevention, this demonstrates how motivation and commitment is strongly influenced by the view of the self and how we identify ourselves in the larger world. Similar factors such as the drive and energetic force behind experienced as motivation of that individual is influenced by that individual’s self-concept and self-other dynamic.
Motivation and Commitment
Motivation is experienced as the energetic drive behind a action or goal, commitment can be seen as a type of motivation involving two entities motivated by a shared goal as the relationship between the two entities. Commitment and motivation in an individual is strongly influenced by that person’s view of the self or belief in the self as theorized by Bandura’s self-efficacy and motivation (Chemers, Hu, ; Garcia, 2001). Self-efficacy can be seen as a form of self-concept and this factor plays a major role in the ability to set goals and mediate conflicts, self-concept and self-efficacy involves a wide range of internal and external forces perhaps too big of a variable to manipulate as one cause (Chemers, Hu, ; Garcia, 2001).Previous research notes the complexity of defining motivation and it process, theories remain incomplete but offer support the nature behind this complex process such as a key feature of motivation is goal setting. (Meyer, Becker ; Vandenberghe, 2004). Goal setting is a key component of motivation, this points to the multifaceted complexity behind the process involving internal values and self beliefs behind those externalized goals. Previous studies have tested two types of motivation using intrinsic value and self-regulation (Learner ; Kruger, 1997). Previous research demonstrates the self-concept and commitment effects in a study that researches “Partner Influence and Individual Effort Predict Rejection of Self-Aspects and Self-Concept Clarity After Relationship Dissolution”. The researchers tested what influences the integration or disengagement of aspects of their self-concept given by a relationship after it has ended. There is little research done exploring the end of relationships in the context of self-concept. In 3 studies, in Study 1 they tested the prediction of rejection of attributes after end of relationships, actually rejecting aspects after relationship in Study 2, and the changes in self-concept after end of relationships in Study 3. Results of these 3 studies showed support for their hypothesis that rejecting attributes given from and after end of relationships showed a higher level of self-concept. (Slotter, Emery ; Luchies, 2014). These studies point to the connection between self-concept and relationships affecting each other and creating a self-other dynamic.
Self-Other Dynamic in Relationship Commitment
This connection between the self and commitment leads us to further understand the importance of how self-concept affects behaviors of commitment in relationships. Previous research demonstrates that commitment is by a mix of self and other dynamic, the more self confident and validated by the other we feel the more close, committed and motivated that person will be in the relationship (Aron, A, Aron, N, ; Smollan, 1992).This study shows how the dynamic of self-other motivates a person to commit in relationship, this points to the complexity of relationship development and self growth. The Inclusion of Other in the Self Scale was found to be positively correlated with closeness and relationship longevity, it is a useful measurement tool in relationship studies (Aron, A, Aron, N, ; Smollan, 1992). This study shows how the self-other dynamic is important in measuring closeness and longevity of relationships, providing predictive validity and construct validity.
The Present Study
In relationships, research shows the level of commitment is influenced by self-concept, involving a greater insight into the self-other dynamic role in relationships and commitment. Individuals who rank within increased Inclusion of other scale, and other self-conceptual measures influenced the level of commitment in relationships. Social interactions and the quality of energy an individual puts into that relationship is influenced by factors of self-concept involving a dynamic within the self. Though previous research has examined the role of self-concepts and types of self-concepts in commitment it has yet to apply this connection as self-concept influencing an individual’s motivation and commitment to relationships, Therefore this study will further examine this important area of motivation and commitment by testing the strength and examine the influence of self-concept in commitment and motivation. In the present study the researcher will manipulate self-concept to see influences of motivation in commitnem,nt in relationships. The researcher predicts that individuals with increased self-concept will influence their level of commitment and motivation within a relationship, self-concept is a major factor in commitment in relationships. In studying how social relationships develop and mature these studies will provide a better understanding at the nature of the self and our relationships in our social environment. The researcher hypothesizes that the commitment in any relationship us motivated by the strength and weaknesses of the relationship with the inner self, experienced self-other dynamic and tested as self-concept. The relationship with the inner self in the biggest influence to commitment.
In Study 1 I propose a correlational study of the relationship between self-concept and commitment variables. Predictor variable is self-concept, which is the view one has of their self. The outcome variable is motivation/commitment which is the amount of a one’s dedication in a relationship. Commitment in any relationship is motivated by the strength and weakness of the relationship with the inner self, or self-concept. The relationship with inner self is the biggest influence to commitment. I predict individuals with greater self-concept clarity scale will be positively correlated with outcome variable commitment as relationship longevity.
Participants include college students from junior college campus at Napa Valley College, in or out of dating relationships, ranging in age from 18-25+, with a total of 40 participants. Average age consists of 20+ with relationship history, male and females, with diverse ethnicities. Participants recruited in person with handed out surveys on campus.
Self-concept and commitment variables will be measured by a survey. Self-concept will be operationalized as a self-concept clarity scale using a likert rating scale. Commitment will be measured in the survey as relationship longevity with a likert scale.
Self-concept clarity scale. To measure the level of clarity of one’s self-concept participants ranked on a likert scale how clear their view was from 1-7. Self-concept clarity scale provided levels of clarity of the self, 1 being lowest in agreeance and 7 being confident in clarity where participants marked their view along the scale. Participants rank how much they agree with the self-concept clarity answering 10 total items. This measure provides high internal validity and internal reliability.
Commitment scale. This measure assesses a person’s current state of commitment as relationship longevity by ranking their answer on a likert scale. The degree of the commitment scale levels from lowest of agreement to commitment and longevity as 1 to the highest of being committed ranked at 7. Participants rank how much they agree within the likert scale of commitment with 10 total items. This measure provides high internal validity, and internal reliability.
Participants recruited on college campus during the day, handing out surveys in two different time periods in the morning then in the afternoon. Participants do not know the hypotheses but are aware of their right to participate, and the purpose of research. Participants will agree to terms and conditions by signing an informed consent form. Participants are asked to participate in survey research, each are told survey takes about 5 min at the most to complete. Seats and clipboards will be available for participants comfortability. After finishing, participants are debriefed on the hypotheses for this research.
Correlational patterns can be found in Study 1, limitations to infer causality between self-concept predictor variable and commitment outcome variable by limitations of bidirectionality and control for third variables are not accounted for in Study 1. In Study 2 method I propose an experimental design to allow a causal relationship between self-concept and commitment variables. To address these limitations I propose a between-subjects experimental design to manipulate and infer causality. Commitment is stronger with a higher self-concept identity. Self-concept IV manipulation testing cause of greater commitment as relationship longevity of DV. Manipulation of IV self-concept with two levels, and measure of DV commitment comparing experiment and control groups. The IV is self-concept, which is the level one has clearly viewed on their self by the self, and the DV is commitment which is the degree of dedication to a relationship. Commitment in individuals will be stronger with individuals with a higher self-concept. Groups will differ by IV manipulation of self-concept levels of high and low.
Participants are college students recruited on campus, ranging in age from 18-25+, with a total of 20 participants. Participants should ideally be in a relationship or have experienced relationships, ranging in age from 18-25+ in college. Participants will be split by random assignment into two groups 10 in each group 1 Experimental and Group 2 Control. Experimental group with manipulation of IV operationalized as high self-concept clarity scale measured against control group with manipulation of IV as low levels of operationalized self-concept clarity scale. DV in experimental and control group is operationalized as relationship longevity questionnaire. Self-concept clarity scale high self concept as a list of 5 items and low self concept as a list of 15 items participants fill out list of achievements. Relationship longevity survey will ask 10 items. High levels of self-concept clarity predicted to cause longer relationship commitment and longevity between participants. Participants are in concealed lab environment, hypothesis is also concealed.
IV manipulated in two levels of high and low self-concept. DV measured and operationalized as relationship longevity given as a self-report with likert rating scale with 10 items.
Self-Concept clarity scale. Participants in experimental group are given a 10 item survey with high levels manipulation of self-concept and identity. Participants in control group will be given a 10 item survey with low levels manipulation of self-concept and identity. Self-concept clarity scale will be likert scale of 1 being lowest self-concept and 7 being highest self-concept. Manipulation of IV provides high external validity.
Relationship longevity survey. Participants will be measured by DV relationship longevity and commitment. Participants in control and experimental group will answer 10 items of relationship longevity. Relationship longevity will be operationalized as a likert scale with 1 being lowest in commitment and 7 being high in relationship longevity.
Study 2 is a between-subjects experiment with two groups. Independent variable is self-concept with high and low level manipulation given as 5 item list for high self concept identity and 15 item list as low self concept identity. Dependent variable in groups is relationship longevity with 10 item self report survey.
Self-concept manipulation. Groups 1 and 2 randomly assigned. Manipulation of IV will be split as two IV’s with high and low levels of self-concept. IV High Self-concept Identity using a 5 item list of achievements, IV Low Self-concept Identity using item lists 15 achievements. Experimental group will be given high level of self-concept manipulation, control group will have low level manipulation of self-concept. Experimental and control groups measured by dependant variable of relationship longevity differences.
Study 2 in the lab. Participants are aware of potential risks/benefits and right to withdraw, and purpose of the experiment but the hypothesis of research is concealed. Participants will agree to terms and conditions by signing an informed consent form. Participants split into two groups by random assignment. Experimental group completing 5 item achievement list taking about 3 minutes, then answers 10 items measure of relationship longevity which takes about 5 minutes. Control group completing 15 item list of achievement taking about 10 minutes, then answers 10 item measure of relationship longevity taking 5 minutes. Participants debriefing of research hypothesis after experiment ends. Relationship longevity will be stronger in individuals with a higher self-concept identity. High self-concept identity will cause greater relationship longevity. Groups 1 and 2 differ by IV manipulation levels of high in experimental and low in control group. Manipulation of IV in two levels between groups 1 and 2 of high and low will allow to infer causality of high self concept measured with dependent variable in relationship longevity and commitment.
The purpose of this research is to examine what factors could affect a person’s commitment in a relationship. As hypothesized, the biggest influence of commitment in relationships is the strength of one’s self-concept. Studying how social relationships develop and mature, by providing a better understanding at the nature of the self and relationships in social environments.
Strength and Limitations
One of the biggest limitations includes low test-retest reliability. Study 1 and Study 2 were only tested once and not repeated test-retest so this should be conducted again for external validity.
Researchers who want to look into the meaning of interpersonal relationship and self concept should consider testing these studies. More future research suggestions include to improve interpersonal relationship longevity, by examining what ways can people gain self-concept clarity in a practical way.
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