Consciousness Blog 03 January 2010

According to a meta-study reported in the December issue of the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science under the title "The Michelangelo Phenomenon" human love partners mould each others' selves to make them conform more closely to what each partner would regard as being ideal in the other.

The researchers, led by Eli J. Finkel of Northwestern University, say that the success of a relationship often depends on how far the moulding process has gone.

It is no news perhaps to most men that their wives view with considerable disfavour their propensity to gather with their mates to drink, hunt or take part in incomprehensible rituals; and women are surely well aware of their swains' opinion of activities such as gossipping and shopping. But what is most interesting about this research is that it takes as a given the idea that the self is mutable, at least within certain parameters.

That does not correspond with most people's idea of themselves. One regards oneself, one's personality and traits as being reasonably persisting through time, although evidently they came into being during youth through a process in which certain paths were taken and others were not. If it is true, as the research suggests, that the adult self is more flexible than one supposes, then this supports the idea that the self is merely a social construct, and exists as an instrument of 'groupishness', floating, so to speak, like a conscious iceberg on the surface of one's unconscious.

Read more in Chapter Eight of Agent Human by Michael Bell, The Con Of Consciousness; The Illusion of Individuality.


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