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Merged Minds: Generalized Shared Reality in Interpersonal Relationships

Rossignac-Milon, Maya

This paper introduces the construct of generalized shared reality—the experience of sharing inner states (e.g., feelings, beliefs, or concerns) in common with a partner about the world in general. Across eleven studies using varied methodologies (intensive longitudinal, experimental, and dyadic interactions) and varied measurements (self-report, linguistic markers, and behavioral coding), we identified the occurrence of generalized shared reality both between close and newly-acquainted partners. Further, we examined the relational outcomes, epistemic outcomes, and behavioral antecedents of generalized shared reality. In Studies 1a and 1b, generalized shared reality predicted self-other overlap between close partners in daily life. In Studies 2a-2d, this effect persisted when accounting for conceptually-related close relationship constructs. In Studies 3a and 3b, linguistic analyses revealed that experimentally threatening generalized shared reality with a romantic partner decreased self-other overlap and increased efforts to restore one’s sense of certainty. Next, in Studies 4a and 4b, experimentally manipulating shared reality between strangers using an established paradigm increased closeness, anticipated rapport, the desire to work together again, and epistemic trust. Finally, in Study 5, generalized shared reality between stranger dyads chatting online predicted key relational outcomes, such as closeness and ‘clicking,’ and key epistemic outcomes, such as joint sense-making and certainty, over and above other constructs. Further, generalized shared reality mediated the relationship between observable shared reality behaviors and these outcomes. These results suggest that generalized shared reality plays an important role in shaping both interpersonal relationships and perceptions of reality.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Higgins, Edward Tory
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 30, 2019
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