How Well Do You Know Your Partner?

How well do you think you know your partner? Do you think you know them better than they know themselves or maybe even their close friends? Research into partner’s knowledge of each other in the past, has focused on a model known as SOKA, self-other knowledge asymmetry. This model has four components to it: Open area, hidden area, unknown area, and blind spots. The components are about how accurately a person and others can know traits. Open area traits can be accurately known by the person and others, blind spots are only accurately known by others, unknown areas are not known accurately by anyone, and hidden areas are only accurately known by the person. The team of researchers wanted to use this model to look into the differences between a person, their partner, their closest friends, and an acquaintance.

The study took 238 German speakers between the ages of 18 and 45, that were in a relationship longer than 6 months. The participants were given measures on creativity, emotional ability, and intelligence. These measures were also given to their partner, their closest friend, and an acquaintance. They were then asked to complete estimates of ability for themselves and each other, and the closeness of their relationships.

The results showed people were mostly accurate in predicating their own abilities, and surprisingly were more likely to underestimate their skills. The romantic partner of the participant was also able to accurately predict their partner’s ability to a similar level. When compared to close friends and acquaintances, romantic partners were more accurate in their predictions and were able to have good insight into intrapersonal skills.

So, while you might not know your partner better than themselves, you might know them as well as they know themselves, and better than their friends. The researchers do point out some limitations with their study, such as the sample size being small due to COVID and the many different types of acquaintances (work friends, school friends, etc.).

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