Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Accessibility experiences and perceived relationship superiority

Similar to the positive illusion people demonstrate for themselves, people also have exaggeratedly positive views of their relationship. This perceived superiority encompasses the belief that one's relationship has more good features and fewer bad features than other people's relationships, and it plays a functional role in reducing doubt and sustaining conviction in relationships. This dissertation tests the role of accessibility experiences in influencing perceived superiority in close relationships. People can make judgments on the basis of two distinct factors: (a) accessible content (what information is brought to mind); and (b) accessibility experience (how easily information is brought to mind). Prior research on perceived superiority has focused only on the accessible content dimension, while completely neglecting the possibly critical influence of people's accessibility experiences. Three studies were designed to test the role of accessibility experience in perceived superiority. Study 1 (n = 154) provided evidence that people find listing positive or negative thoughts about their own or others' relationships differently easy or difficult. Study 2 (n = 118) further examined this issue by returning to the method of prior research by manipulating, within-subjects, the relationship target and valence variables. Study 3 (n = 198) provided evidence that directly manipulating accessibility experience through a thoughts-listing task affects a variety of relationship variables.