Taking turns: Reciprocalself-disclosure promotes liking in
DepartmentofSociology & Anthropology,Illinois State University,Normal,IL,61790-4660,USA
DepartmentofPsychology,Illinois State University,Normal,IL,61790-4660,USA
University of Michigan,USA
Kansas State University,USA
H I G H L IG H T S
•Self-disclosure reciprocity leads to p ositive outcomes in initialin teraction s.
•Turn-takin g self-disclosure reciprocity is particularly beneﬁcial.
•Long-turn taking disclosures lead to less likin g th an immediate tu rn-taking.
•Receiving d isclosures leads to more liking than d isclosing in imbalanced disclosures.
a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t
Article history: Prior research has provid ed evidence for th e self-disclosure reciprocity effect:self-disclosure promotes fur-
Received 4 September 2012 ther self-disclosure.In this stu dy,we examined a related but distin ctissu e aboutself-d isclosure recip rocity:
Revised 21 March 2013 the effectsofself-disclosure reciprocity (vs.non-reciprocity)on afﬁliativeinterpersonaloutcomes(e.g.,liking)in ini-
Available online 9 April2013 tialencounters.We manipulated disclosure reciprocity in an experimentthatinvolved pairs ofunacquainted indi-
viduals participating in a structured self-disclosure activity.Participants in some pairs took turns asking and
Keywords: answering questions in two interactions (reciprocaldisclosure).In other pairs,participants either disclosed or lis-
Liking tened in an initialinteraction (non-reciprocaldisclosure)andthen switched disclosure rolesin a second interaction.
Reciprocity Participants who disclosed reciprocally reported greaterliking,closeness,perceivedsimilarity,and enjoymentofthe
Self-disclosure interaction afterthe ﬁrstinteraction than participants who disclosed non-reciprocally.These differencesremained
Socialinteraction afterthe second interaction,even though participants in non-reciprocally disclosing dyadsswitched roles(i.e.,dis-
closers became listeners) and therefore experienced extended reciprocity. We concluded that turn-taking
self-disclosure reciprocity in the acquaintance process increasesthe likelihood ofpositive outcomes (e.g.,liking).
© 2013 ElsevierIn c.Allrights reserved.
Intr oduc t ion
Self-disclosure,the processby which people revealpersonalinforma-
tion aboutthemselvesto others,is importantin alltypesand stages ofso-
cialrelationships (Altman & Taylor,1973;Greene,Derlega,& Mathews,
2006).Self-d isclosure may be especially importantduring in itialin terac-
tions because it likely determines whethertwo people willdesire to in-
teract again and develop a relationship (Derlega,Winstead,& Greene,
2008).In this study,we examined whether self-disclosure reciprocity
in initial interaction leads to more positive afﬁliative interpersonal
outcomes than non-reciprocity.Self-disclosure reciprocity refers to the
process by which one person's self-disclosure elicits another person's
self-disclose (e.g.,Jourard,1971) and also to whether disclosures are
equivalent(e.g.,in breadth,depth;Hill& Stull,1982).
The self-disclosure reciprocity effect
Beginning with Jourard (1971),considerable research has shown
that self-disclosure is reciprocalin existing relationships.Evidence for
both perceived reciprocity (positive correlations between self-reported
disclosure and perceived partner disclosure) and actual reciprocity
(correlations between each partner's self-reported disclosure)hasbeen
found (forreviews,see Dindia,1988,2002).Furthermore,experimental
research has demonstrated thatself-disclosure reciprocity characterizes
initialinteractions between strangers.In a typicalexperiment,partici-
pants receive a high or low levelofdisclosure from a confederate,and
the dependentvariable is the levelofparticipants'reciprocaldisclosure
JournalofExperimentalSocialPsychology 49 (2013)860–866
☆Allco-authorswere graduate students atIllinoisState University when the research was
conducted.The authors would like to thank Jace Cosentino,Jackie Gray,Michelle McCabe,
Stacey McClellan,Cathy Merrick,Ilyce Miller,Dave Williamsand Jackie Wroblewskiforserv-
ing as research assistantson the project.
⁎Corresponding authorat:Departmentof Sociology & Anthrop ology,Illinois State
0022-1031/$ –see frontmatter © 2013 ElsevierInc.Allrights reserved.
Contents lists available atSciVerse ScienceDirect
jo u rna l h o m e p a g e : w w w .els e v ie r.c o m /lo c a te/je s p
(e.g.,Cozby,1972;Derlega,Harris,& Chaikin,1973;Ehrlich & Graeven,
1971;Rubin,1975).Participants generally reciprocate the confederate's
levelofdisclosure,including the levelofintimacy.Likewise,experimen-
talevidence also supports the notion that disclosure promotes further
Past experimental research on self-disclosu re reciprocity has fo-
cused on reciprocity asthe outcome variable.Alth ough reciprocity gen-
erally characterizes self-disclosure during socialinteractions (Jourard,
1971),disclosure may notalways be equal(i.e.,one person may engage
in more listening than disclosing) and self-disclosure may be reward ing
regard less ofthe d egree ofreciprocity.Therefore,an empiricalquestion
is: Does reciprocaldisclosure lead to more positive interpersonalout-
comes(e.g.liking)than spending the same amountoftime eitherdisclos-
ing aboutoneselforlistening to the otherdisclose?To ourknowledge,no
prior experiments h ave manipulated reciprocal self-disclosure between
interacting participants and examined post-disclosure impressions.Our
laboratory experimentwasdesigned to examine the effects ofreciprocal
disclosure versus one-sided disclosure on severalbasic interpersonalout-
comesexperienced in initialinteraction:liking,closeness,perceived sim-
Differentialeffects ofturn-taking versusextended self-disclosure reciprocity
Two types ofdisclosure reciprocity can be considered in examining
the effects ofself-disclosure reciprocity:turn-taking reciprocity,in which
disclosure partners immediately take turns disclosing,an d extended reci-
procity,in which disclosure reciprocity occurs over a longer period of
time (Dindia,2002;Hill& Stull,1982).In fact,some have proposed that
self-disclosure is rarely non-reciprocalifthe time frame under consider-
ation isextended (e.g.,Hill& Stull,1982).Although disclosure in relation-
sh ipsmay notalways be equivalentwithin a single in teraction,itislikely
to be equivalentover time (e.g.,Altman,1973; Won-Doornink,1979).
Extended reciprocity in self-disclosure can also occur when people are
becoming acquainted.For example,Person A may disclose to Person B,
butPerson B may notdisclose in return untillater in the conversation
or the next time they meet.This may be common when relationship
initiation occurs on the Internet,including at dating websites, where
persons may often engage in asynchronous forms ofcommunication to
become acquainted (Finkel,Eastwick,Karney,Reis,& Sprecher,2012).
In the present study, we not only compare reciprocal versus non-
reciprocal self-disclosure,but also consider the different outcomes of
turn-taking versus extended self-disclosure reciprocity.
Why isself-disclosure reciprocaland why doesitlead to positive outcomes?
Researchers have offered severaltheoretical explanations for the
occurrence ofreciprocity in self-disclosure;these theories also explain
why self-disclosure reciprocity,especially turn-taking reciprocity,should
lead to positive interpersonaloutcomes.First,the socialattraction–trust
hypothesis (e.g.,Dindia,2002) arguesthatpeople reciprocate disclosure
because they inferthatanotherwho hasdisclosed likesand trustthem.
This iterative process builds mutualdisclosure,trust,and liking.Second,
socialexchange theory (Archer,1979)argues thatpeople strive to main-
tain equality or reciprocity in their relationsh ips.Self-disclosure reci-
procity is more rewarding than non-reciprocity because people are
uncomfortable with the imbalance in non-reciprocaldisclosure.Relat-
edly,a third explanation is the norm of reciprocity (Gouldner,1960).
This norm may be such a basic human motive (e.g.,Whatley,Webster,
Smith,& Rhodes,1999) that violations make interactions feeluncom-
fortable.Based on these theoreticalframeworks,we predicted that
self-disclosure reciprocity would be more rewarding than non-
reciprocity in in itialinteractions and therefore lead to more posi-
tive interp ersonalou tcomes in the interaction.
The processes suggested by these theoriesmay have differentim-
plications for turn-taking versus extended self-disclosure reciprocity.
The norm ofreciprocity and socialexchange perspectivessuggestth at
by the end of a get-acquainted interaction that is characterized by
extended reciprocity (one partner takes a long turn,and then the
second partner reciprocates later in the interaction),both partners
should experience th e relief of the balance achieved. However,the
iterative process and build up oftru st and liking suggested by th e so-
cialattraction–trust hypoth esis may lead those who are engaged in
turn-taking reciprocity in an initialinteraction to continue to experi-
ence more positive outcomes than those engaged in extended reci-
procity,even atthe end ofthe interaction.
In this study,dyads ofunacquainted individuals engaged in a two-
interaction structured self-disclosure task. In the reciprocal condition,
dyad members immediately took turn s asking questions and disclosing.
In the non-reciprocalcondition,dyad members engaged in sequentialin-
teractions ofone-sided self-disclosure.One person asked questionsin the
ﬁrstinteraction while the otherperson disclosed;then,the two switched
roles forthe second interaction.Thus,extended reciprocity occurred by
the end ofthe two interactions.Aftereach interaction,we assessed liking,
closeness,perceived similarity,and enjoymentofthe interaction.
Following are the hypoth esesand research questions ofthe study:
Hy pot he s is 1. Dyads in the turn-taking reciprocity condition willexpe-
rience greater liking,closeness,perceived similarity,and enjoyment of
the interaction afterthe ﬁrstinteraction than the dyadsin the one-sided
Re s e a rc h Que s tion 1. Do turn-taking and extended reciprocity equally
affectinterpersonaloutcomesduring th e extended initialacquaintance?
That is,willthe (predicted) differences in liking,closeness,perceived
similarity,and enjoymentofthe interaction between the reciprocaland
non-reciprocalconditions in our study disappear afterthe second inter-
action? Alternatively,doesturn-taking reciprocity lead to more afﬁliative
interpersonaloutcomes th an extended reciprocity —i.e.,do the differ-
encesbetween conditionsremain afterthe second interaction?
The ﬁnalissue we consideristhe differentialeffects ofreceivin g ver-
sus giving disclosure in the non-reciprocalconditions on th e afﬁliative
interpersonaloutcomes (e.g.,likin g).In a prior experiment(Sprecher,
Treger, & Wondra,in press), in which the two nonreciprocal roles
were compared, we found evidence that receiving disclosure led to
more likin g,closeness,and enjoymen tth an giving disclosure.Although
there are theoreticalreasons foreach side ofdisclosure (giving and re-
ceiving) to lead to likin g and other positive outcomes (e.g.,Collins &
Miller,1994),the theoreticalarguments are strong forthe effects ofre-
ceiving disclosure: it leads to positive beliefs and impressions of the
other,enhanced familiarity,and the reduction ofuncertainty (Collins &
& Mitchell,2012). We attempted to replicate our prior experimental
ﬁndings with a new sample.The second h ypoth esis was:
Hy pot he s is 2. Participantswh o in itially receive disclosure willreport
more liking,closeness,perceived similarity,and enjoyment ofinter-
action than p articipants who initially disclose.
The p articipants were 156 undergraduate stu dents (82.2% female;
86.0% White), recruited from th e psychology participant pool at a
The mean age of the participants was 19.58
We removed 12 participants who had to be paired with a confederate because the
second particip antdid not arrive and six particip ants (three pairs) who indicated that
th ey had interacted previously.
861S.Sprecheret al./JournalofExperimentalSocial Psychology 49 (2013) 860–866