Positive illusions: An examination of the unrealistically positive views individuals hold of themselves and their spouses as an explanation for the marital conventionalization bias

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Committee Member

Blaine Flowers, Committee Chair


The primary purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between unrealistically positive views of oneself and one's spouse and the tendency of individuals to report unrealistically positive descriptions of their marriages. Secondarily, this study explored the relationship between high self-esteem and unrealistically positive views of self and spouse, and marital satisfaction and idealistic distortion.Data were collected from a sample of 95 married individuals who were selected from a randomly generated computerized list of married individuals in Dade County, Florida. All participants were recruited through the mail on a voluntary basis.All 95 participants completed the Enrich Marital Satisfaction and Idealistic Distortion scales, adjectives ratings of self and spouse characteristics from Anderson's Likableness Rating Scale (1967), the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and a demographic information sheet.Unrealistically positive views of oneself and one's spouse were only mildly related to the marital conventionalization bias. Individuals did maintain idealized views of themselves and their spouses, yet these unrealistic views appear to be individual in nature and only mildly related to the marital relationship itself. Self-esteem was found to be only mildly related to idealistic distortion. Self-esteem correlated more strongly with positive self evaluations but appeared unrelated to unrealistic views about one's spouse and "most other people." This finding supports the individual nature of self-enhancement biases and further suggests that self-enhancing biases are only mildly related to the tendency to distort the view of one's marriage in a positive direction.


Psychology, Social; Psychology, Clinical; Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

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