A theory of the valenced other: The intersection of the looking-glass-self and social penetration

Wayne E. Hensley1
1Virginia Polytechnic and State University, United States
Cite this article:  Hensley, W. E. (1996). A theory of the valenced other: The intersection of the looking-glass-self and social penetration. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 24(3), 293-308.

Volume 24 Issue 3 | e848 | Published: August 1996 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1996.24.3.293

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This paper considers the relationships between the looking-glass-self (Cooley, 1902) and social penetration (Altman & Taylor, 1973). This theoretical intersection yields a conceptual other whose reflected image of us is both affect and cognition: the valanced other. This theoretical analysis produces a curvilinear relationship which is hypothesised to exist between image accuracy and the penetration level of the reference person. The most accurate images are, in descending order: casual acquaintance, friend, intimate and stranger. The distortion in the intimate's image is due to their emotional involvement rendering them blind to otherwise obvious information. This paper argues that neither the looking-glass-self nor social penetration is complete alone. This resultant unified system gives rise to the valenced other concept.
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