I-Through-We: How Supportive Social Relationships Facilitate Personal Growth

David S. Lee, Oscar Ybarra, Richard Gonzalez, Phoebe Ellsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Personal growth is usually considered an outcome of intrapersonal processes—personal resources residing within the person. Comparatively, little research has examined the interpersonal processes underlying personal growth. We investigated how one interpersonal factor—people’s relationships with others—influences personal growth. Study 1 showed that brief reminders of a supportive (vs. nonsupportive) other led people to choose a job that promoted personal growth over one that offered a higher salary. Moreover, feelings of self-confidence from thinking about a supportive (vs. nonsupportive) other mediated personal growth. Extending these results, Studies 2 and 3 demonstrated that people’s perceptions of how supportive their close others are predicted personal growth in two distinct cultures with varying emphasis on individual (vs. collective) growth. Consistent with Study 1’s findings, the results were also mediated by feelings of self-confidence. These findings suggest that the link between supportive relationships and personal growth may reflect a general process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-48
Number of pages12
JournalPersonality and social psychology bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • cultural similarities
  • personal growth
  • self-confidence
  • supportive relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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