Communication and Self-Expansion: Perceptions of Changes in the Self Due to a Close Relationship


  • Tim Dun


Building from Aron and Aron’s (2000) Self-Expansion Model, this study was designed to explore the ways that communication in close relationships forms the self. Ninety-two participants (males = 23, females = 68, mean age = 22.2 years) completed a semi-structured, retrospective questionnaire on the ways that a close friendship or romantic relationship had changed who they were as a person. Data were inductively analyzed to describe both the content of the self that changed and the relational processes that led to change. The content of perceived changes in the self was perceived primarily in new ways of relating (52.3%) and changes in self-understanding (29.7%). This self-expansion was generally positive (65% of changes), while 20.1% of growth in the self was simultaneously positive and negative. Three relational processes were perceived to shape the self: 1) communicative events; 2) the discovery of partner differences and similarities; and 3) diffuse qualities of an ongoing relationship. The findings highlight the role of communication in self-expansion.

Author Biography

Tim Dun, Brock University
Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film