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date: 24 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter, we describe our theory of the relational self grounded in the social-cognitive phenomenon of transference. Relational selves embody the cognitive, emotional, motivational, and behavioral tendencies exhibited in relation to significant others. We argue that relational selves are stored in memory and are linked to significant-other representations. Accordingly, when a significant-other representation is activated and used in an encounter with a new person, the perceiver not only comes to interpret and evaluate the new person as if he or she were the significant other but also views and experiences the self as he or she usually does in relation to the particular significant other. Having laid out our theory, along with wide-ranging evidence to support it, we then address several questions and issues raised about our work. We conclude with a discussion of several broad directions for future research on transference and the relational self.

Keywords: relational self, transference, significant others, close relationships, self-concept

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