Does Michelangelo care about age? An adult life-span perspective on the Michelangelo phenomenon

Bühler, Janina Larissa; Weidmann, Rebekka; Kumashiro, Madoka; Grob, Alexander (2019). Does Michelangelo care about age? An adult life-span perspective on the Michelangelo phenomenon. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36(4), pp. 1392-1414. Sage 10.1177/0265407518766698

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Humans are motivated to expand their actual self toward an ideal self. Known as the Michelangelo phenomenon, movement toward the ideal self can be facilitated through an affirming romantic partner and is linked to positive life outcomes. Yet, research on the Michelangelo phenomenon has primarily focused on young adult samples, and it remains unknown whether the framework generalizes across the adult life span. The authors addressed this shortcoming by examining the Michelangelo phenomenon in a three-generation sample of 505 adults aged 18–90 years (M¼47.2 years). Multilevel analyses revealed one age effect on the framework, showing that being seen by the partner in a manner congruent with one’s ideal self (i.e., partner perceptual affirmation) becomes more important for relationship satisfaction with increasing age. Otherwise, age did not affect the Michelangelo phenomenon, suggesting life-span generalizability of the framework. By highlighting personal growth processes that continue across the life span, the present findings add to theories of successful aging.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Developmental Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Bühler, Janina Larissa


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology








Jennifer Ruth Sprenger

Date Deposited:

17 Feb 2020 12:52

Last Modified:

17 Feb 2020 12:52

Publisher DOI:





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