Romantic lovers are not so blind in their perception of their loved ones. It was found that they can pretty accurately judge the abilities of their significant others. Some may believe that their partner knows them better than they know themselves. Is it really true? Does science support such a claim? The results of a recent study revealed something different. It appears that romantic partners are usually just as accurate about their partners’ abilities as they are about their own (Hofer, Macher, & Neubauer, 2022).
How Well Do We Know Others and Ourselves in Close Relationships?
People close to us can give us useful feedback on our skills, since we may not always have a clear picture of ourselves. Researchers have been interested in knowing how accurate we are at judging ourselves. Surely, different things can affect how we perceive other people.
Regarding this, researchers classify four categories for traits: open area, blind spot, hidden area, and unknown area. Open area traits can be judged correctly by both yourself and others. Blind spots can only be judged correctly by others. Hidden area traits can only be judged correctly by yourself. Unknown area traits cannot be accurately judged by either you or others (Vazire, 2010).
How Accurate Are We in Our Perception of Romantic Partners Compared to Ourselves?
The goal of a recent study conducted by Gabriela Hofer and her colleagues was to find out how accurate you are compared to yourself, a romantic partner, a close friend, and a stranger (Hofer, Macher, & Neubauer, 2022). Researchers studied participants ages 18 to 45 years old who were in a romantic relationship. The study was conducted in Austria, a German-speaking country. The results showed that people could evaluate their own abilities to a moderate degree of accuracy. Participants’ romantic partners were able to evaluate the participant’s abilities with a similar degree of accuracy. Thus, the researchers came to the conclusion,
“All in all, it appears that the increased interpersonal intimacy between partners and targets—as compared to other informants—might not necessarily be detrimental when it comes to accuracy.”(Hofer, Macher, & Neubauer, 2022).
Surprisingly, participants were more likely to underestimate themselves than overestimate their abilities. As for numerical intelligence, people were especially accurate in judging their own abilities. When compared to close friends or acquaintances, romantic partners were more accurately able to predict their partners’ abilities in every single domain measured. The romantic partners were able to provide some accurate insight into the participant’s intrapersonal skills, whereas the other groups were not.
A Cultural Perspective of Interpersonal Perception
The study has taken one more step toward figuring out how accurate self- and other-perceptions are. We should be aware, however, that the study was administered in Austria, a German-speaking country. So, the findings can be culturally specific in some respects. Cross-cultural studies of these perception phenomena in close relationships are needed for cultural validity.
Other studies have shown that interpersonal perception, judgement, and communication can vary from culture to culture (Karandashev, 2021a).
An Important Progress in the Understanding of Interpersonal Perception in Love
Thus, the results of the study conducted by Austrian researchers Gabriela Hofer, Silvia Macher, and Aljoscha C. Neubauer have advanced our knowledge of interpersonal perception in love.
“This study’s results suggest that people we are very well-acquainted with—like our closest friends or our partners—can provide at least moderately accurate assessments of a variety of our cognitive and non-cognitive abilities. Both types of sources might also be able to provide us with information about our abilities that we ourselves have no access to. In that, our partners also do not appear to idealize our abilities—at least not more than our close friends or acquaintances.”(Hofer, Macher, & Neubauer, 2022).
The things we need to take into account in interpersonal communication:
“Indeed, people who we have just met or who we only interact with in very specific contexts—like at work or at university—are likely less accurate in their perceptions of our abilities. Our own knowledge of our abilities can be considered moderate across many areas and even high in the domain of numerical intelligence. Despite all that, the associations between our own and different types of others’ perceptions of our abilities and our actual standing on the same abilities are far from perfect. Thus, when we really want to know how well we are doing in a domain, our best option likely remains to take psychometrically sound performance tests.”(Hofer, Macher, & Neubauer, 2022).