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Gagne, F. & Lydon, J. (2003). Identification and the commitment shift: Accounting for gender differences in relationship illusions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 907-919.


Previous work revealed gender differences in relationship illusions. Women, and not men, perceived their dating partners more favorably than their partners’ self-perceptions. In two studies, the authors replicated these findings and showed they are moderated by relationship commitment but not by relationship satisfaction. Dating men low in commitment devalued their partners’ virtues, whereas those high in commitment exaggerated their partners’ virtues compared to their partners’ selfperceptions. In contrast, dating women showed relationship illusions irrespective of their commitment. In Study 2, similar results were obtained with relationship-specific identification. Moreover, men’s commitment mediated the effect of identification with the relationship. This suggests that gender differences in relationship identities exist at a general level and that men need to identify with and then commit to a specific relationship before they exhibit pro-relationship thinking, which women exhibit as general dispositions.

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