Significance Appreciation and Authentic Love and Friendship

Pomerantz, Jacob (Ph.D., 1988)

Thesis directed by Professor Peter G. Ossorio

This thesis attempts to elucidate the relationship between "significance appreciation" and "authenticity" in love and friendship relations. The concepts used derive from the conceptual system of Descriptive Psychology as developed by Peter G. Ossorio.

The Descriptive Psychology parametric analysis of behavior is described, particularly the "significance" and "performance" parameters. Performance refers to the concrete, observable, and easily consensually validated aspects of behavior. Significance refers to the meaning of a behavior. Significance is the answer to the question: What is she doing by doing that? The significance and performance parameters are then used to derive the concepts of the "significance oriented person" and the "performance oriented person."

The significance oriented person is one who is normatively sensitive to the meaning of behavioral performances. The performance oriented person is one who is relatively deficient is significance appreciation, and therefore focuses on the concrete and consensually validated aspects of behavior.

The implications of these orientations are discussed in terms of a person's ability to participate normatively in authentic love and friendship relations. An authentic relationship is one in which two people are able to negotiate their related statuses, and standards of judgment within a mutually created and shared world.

It is hypothesized that individuals who are deficient in significance appreciation will have concomitant deficiencies in the mastery of love and friendship relations. Two additional hypotheses are also proposed. One is that performativeness is a general deficit that will express itself across different types of relationships. The second is concerned with the methodology of evaluating an individual's mastery of particular sorts of relationships.

The major hypotheses received no support, nor did the methodological hypothesis. The hypothesis concerning generalization of the significance appreciation deficit did receive support.

The results of the empirical investigation are discussed in terms of methodology and conceptualization. Possible refinements to the conceptualization are discussed as are changes in the methodology used to investigate the relationship between significance appreciation and authenticity. [ pp.]