The interdependent self-construal as a moderator in using relationships as natural categories

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1999
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Morris, Michael Lynn
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Cross, Susan E.
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The self-concept can be thought of as a highly organized and well-elaborated knowledge structure, or schema, and this knowledge structure becomes increasingly differentiated with age (Brown, 1998; Markus, 1977). Variations in how people think about themselves have been shown to impact information processing and behavior (Brown, 1998). Significant others and important relationships can be important to one's sense of self, but people differ in how much they integrate others into their conceptions of who they are. Generally, people are thought to be able to construct self-concepts with either rigid boundaries between the self and others (an independent self-construal), or with more fluid boundaries between the self and others (an interdependent self-construal) (Markus & Kitayama, 1991). It was hypothesized that those with very interdependent self-construals would tend to organize social information around important relationships more than those with less interdependent self-construals. This hypothesis was tested with a memory task, where participants learned that several targets were either married to each other (married condition), siblings of each other (sibling condition), or married leaving the spouse unspecified (control condition). Results indicated partial support for the hypothesis, as participants with more interdependent self-construals in the married condition clustered information about the targets according to the relationships more than those with less interdependent self-construals. Implications for the interdependent self-construal and future research ideas are discussed.
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