Relating to someone else’s story with a similar one your own is often welcome, research indicates.
Researchers used several studies to examine how people use and perceive “reciprocal self-disclosure,” which is responding to a self-disclosure with a self-disclosure. They studied more than 2,600 conversations on Reddit and Facebook, via text message, and in other settings.
The findings indicate that people felt validated, understood, and cared for when respondents reciprocally shared their similar experiences.
People may be reluctant to reciprocally self-disclose because they’re afraid of stealing the spotlight from the other person.
“We often choose to conceal our own news—to refrain from reciprocal self-disclosure—especially in positive situations,” says Zachary Reese, who conducted the research while seeking his doctoral degree at the University of Michigan.
But Reese, an assistant psychology professor at the University of San Francisco, and coauthor Kristin Orrach, a master’s degree in social work graduate, note a caveat.
People hate hearing reciprocal self-disclosures that reveal more impressive accomplishments. People hate being one-upped in positive contexts, which “may make others feel like their accomplishments or blessings are less impressive or exciting,” Reese says.
The bottom line: If you have comparable accomplishments, similar downfalls, or worse tragedies, share them, Orrach says.
The findings appear in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
Source: University of Michigan