Participating in Research on Romantic Breakups Promotes Emotional Recovery via Changes in Self-Concept Clarity

Grace M. Larson, David A. Sbarra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Romantic breakups are a significant source of stress and associated with a range of poor outcomes. This report investigated whether participating in a measurement-intensive study of coping alters the course of breakup-related recovery. Recently separated young adults (N = 210) were assigned to complete either four visits involving multimethod assessments over 9 weeks (measurement-intensive condition, n = 120) or only intake and exit assessments during the same period (pre–post condition, n = 90). Participants in the measurement-intensive condition reported larger decreases in self-concept disturbance over time; no other main effects were observed based on condition. Improvement in self-concept clarity (for people in the measurement-intensive condition) explained decreases in breakup-related emotional intrusion, loneliness, and the use of first-person plural words when describing the separation. This study highlights the importance of self-concept reorganization following a breakup and suggests that research assessing coping can effect change without creating explicit expectations of doing so.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-406
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • coping
  • measurement reactivity
  • romantic breakups
  • self-concept clarity
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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