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12 - Dyadic Fits and Transactions in Personality and Relationships

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2009

Frieder R. Lang
Martin Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenburg, Germany
Karen L. Fingerman
Purdue University, Indiana
Franz J. Neyer
Department of Psychology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Oranienburger Str. 18, D-10178 Berlin, Germany
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Starting out with the premises of the dynamic interactionistic paradigm, the chapter discusses how personality and relationships develop and influence each other over the life course. Two basic rules of personality-relationship transaction are proposed: First, individual differences in personality become increasingly stable and exert long-term and accumulative effects on relationships, whereas relationship experiences have only short-term effects that do not accumulate because they are interpreted in a way that suits the individual personality. Second, new relationships may offer a turning point for personality change, especially when accompanying age-related and socially scripted life transitions. The chapter is organized around these basic tenets and describes the mechanisms that promote personality-relationship transaction beyond initial assortment, and summarizes the empirical findings relevant to these assumptions.

At the time when two people, let's say two students at college, become committed to their relationship, they not only bring life experiences and histories but also enduring personality characteristics to their relationship. Whether they get on well with each other or whether their relationship breaks up following repeated quarrels is related not only to how they deal with each other in everyday or critical situations, but also depends on their personalities. Whereas one student may appear confident and agreeable, another one may appear wary, reserved, and fearful. These and other personality characteristics are relatively stable, albeit not unchangeable over the life course, and not only affect one as an individual, but also, and even more importantly, influence one's personal relationships and the related outcomes.

Growing Together
Personal Relationships Across the Life Span
, pp. 290 - 316
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2003

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