The higher individuals were in communal strength [i.e., motivation to respond to a specific romantic partner’s needs noncontingently] in their romantic relationships, the more authentic they felt when they made daily sacrifices for their partner and, in turn, the more they experienced positive emotions, feelings of being appreciated, and satisfaction with their romantic relationships.

Psychological Science

21(12) 1918–1924; 2010

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


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 partner’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.