Intimacy as an interpersonal process: the importance of self-disclosure, partner disclosure, and perceived partner responsiveness in interpersonal exchanges

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1998 May;74(5):1238-51. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.74.5.1238.


H. T. Reis and P. Shaver's (1988) interpersonal process model of intimacy suggests that both self-disclosure and partner responsiveness contribute to the experience of intimacy in interactions. Two studies tested this model using an event-contingent diary methodology in which participants provided information immediately after their social interactions over 1 (Study 1) or 2 (Study 2) weeks. For each interaction, participants reported on their self-disclosures, partner disclosures, perceived partner responsiveness, and degree of intimacy experienced in the interaction. Overall, the findings strongly supported the conceptualization of intimacy as a combination of self-disclosure and partner disclosure at the level of individual interactions with partner responsiveness as a partial mediator in this process. Additionally, in Study 2, self-disclosure of emotion emerged as a more important predictor of intimacy than did self-disclosure of facts and information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Emotions
  • Empathy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*