Under pressure? : the relationship between reciprocity, intimacy, and obligation in self-disclosure

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology, General


Department of Psychology


Advisor: Erin M. O'Mara


Studies of self-disclosure conducted in the lab show that individuals report greater liking for those who disclose highly intimate information, whereas field studies show that individuals report greater liking for those who disclose information of lower intimacy. One possible explanation for such inconsistent findings is that laboratory studies typically create a scenario where the recipient of self-disclosed information is expected and obligated to reciprocate by self-disclosing in return. Field studies, however, remove the obligation for the participant to reciprocate, thus creating an unbiased evaluation of liking for the discloser. The current study examined the effects of self-disclosure on liking when level of intimacy and participants' roles were manipulated in a lab setting (participants were expected to respond or not). Participants evaluated an individual based on a vignette of low or high intimate content. The interactive effects of participant role and intimacy level on reports of interpersonal liking as well as the role of perceived similarity with the disclosing target were examined. Results indicated only a main effect of intimacy, such that participants evaluated the target person with higher levels of liking when the vignette was of high intimacy rather than low intimacy, regardless of expected role. Additionally, although similarity did not mediate the association between intimacy and liking, participants in the high intimacy group felt significantly less similar to the target than participants in the low intimacy group and liked the target significantly more when they perceived him or her to be similar to themselves.


Self-disclosure Social aspects, Intimacy (Psychology) Social aspects, Reciprocity (Psychology) Social aspects, Social comparison, Psychology, self-disclosure, intimacy, reciprocity, similarity, liking, obligation

Rights Statement

Copyright 2015, author