Shifting dependence: The influence of partner instrumentality and self-esteem on responses to interpersonal risk.

Sarah Gomillion, Sandra L Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


High and low self-esteem people typically have divergent responses to interpersonal risk. Highs draw closer to their partner, whereas lows self-protectively distance. However, these responses should be more likely when people are dependent on the rewards their partner offers. Two experiments tested the hypothesis that structural changes in the situation of interdependence lead high and low self-esteem people to reverse their typical responses to risk. When partners were instrumental to a current goal pursuit (and participants were more dependent on the rewards partners could offer), highs drew closer and lows distanced when risk was primed. However, when partners were not instrumental to an active goal (and participants were less dependent on the rewards partners could offer), these responses were reversed. Reducing one’s dependence on a partner to attain one’s personal goals appears to reduce highs’ incentive to connect, whereas it appears to increase lows’ incentive to connect.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-69
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number1
Early online date18 Sep 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014



  • self-esteem
  • close relationships
  • instrumentality
  • interdependence

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