When giving feels good: The intrinsic benefits of sacrifice in romantic relationships for the communally motivated

Aleksandr Kogan, Emily A. Impett, Christopher Oveis, Bryant Hui, Amie M. Gordon, Dacher Keltner

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


Who benefits most from making sacrifices for others? The current study provides one answer to this question by demonstrating the intrinsic benefits of sacrifice for people who are highly motivated to respond to a specific romantic partnera's needs noncontingently, a phenomenon termed communal strength. In a 14-day daily-experience study of 69 romantic couples, communal strength was positively associated with positive emotions during the sacrifice itself, with feeling appreciated by the partner for the sacrifice, and with feelings of relationship satisfaction on the day of the sacrifice. Furthermore, feelings of authenticity for the sacrifice mediated these associations. Several alternative hypotheses were ruled out: The effects were not due to individuals higher in communal strength making qualitatively different kinds of sacrifices, being more positive in general, or being involved in happier relationships. Implications for research and theory on communal relationships and positive emotions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1918-1924
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • communal relationships
  • communal strength
  • positive emotions
  • romantic relationships
  • sacrifice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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