Papers on the psychology of close relationships

Lecture 2 – September 12
Interpersonal Attraction and Liking

Seeing I to I: A Pathway to Interpersonal Connectedness
Pinel, Long, Landau, Alexander, & Pyszczynski

I-sharing, instant friendship through shared subjective experience

The authors introduce the construct of I-sharing—the belief that one shares an identical subjective experience with another person—and the role it plays in liking. In Studies 1–3, participants indicated their liking for an objectively similar and an objectively dissimilar person, one of whom I-shared with them and the other of whom did not. Participants preferred the objectively similar person but only when that person I-shared with them. Studies 4 and 5 highlight the role that feelings of existential isolation and the need for closeness play in people’s attraction to I-sharers. In Study 4, people with high needs for interpersonal closeness responded to I-sharers and non-I-sharers with great intensity. In Study 5, priming participants with feelings of existential isolation increased their liking for I-sharers over objectively similar others. The results highlight the importance of shared subjective experience and have implications for interpersonal and intergroup processes.

Sexy red: Perceived sexual receptivity mediates the red-attraction relation in men viewing woman
Pazda, Elliot & Greitemeyer

Women in red are more attractive

In many non-human primate species, female red displays are a signal of sexualreceptivity and this signalattracts male conspecifics. In the present research, we proposed and tested a human analog whereby perceived sexual receptivity mediates the relation between red and sexual attraction in men viewing women. Two experiments were conducted, each of which provided support for the hypothesized mediational model. Experiment 1 documented the mediational role of perceived sexual receptivity using the experimental–causal-chain approach, and Experiment 2 did so using the measurement-of-mediation approach. Alternative mediator variable candidates were ruled out, and participants showed no evidence of awareness of the red effect. These findings docu-ment red as a subtle, but surprisingly powerful environmental stimulus that can serve parallel functions in the mating game for human and non-human primates.

Differential Effects of Reciprocity and Attitude Similarity Across Long- Versus Short-Term Mating Contexts
Lehr & Geher

We like people that think like us

Participants were 24 male and 32 female undergraduate and graduate students whom the authors recruited for an examination of the effects of attitude similarity and reciprocity on the degree of attraction toward potential mates. The authors examined the effects of these 2 variables on degree of liking in long-term and short-term contexts. The authors administered a vignette about a bogus stranger to each participant, varying the stranger’s attitude similarity with and liking of the participant. The authors enclosed the vignette in a folder that described the stranger as having either very similar or very different attitudes from the participant and that included a passage that notified the participant that the stranger either likes or does not like him or her. The dependent variables included 4 indexes of the extent to which participants reported liking the bogus stranger: a scale that measured short-term mating items, a scale that measured long-term mating items, a degree-of-liking scale, and a behavioral-intention item. Across these 4 attraction-relevant dependent variables, the authors found significant main effects of the reciprocity variable. Also, the authors found a significant main effect of attitude similarity on the likability measure. The authors found significant main effects of reciprocity in a long-term mating context and a short-term mating context.

When Does Playing Hard to Get Increase Romantic Attraction?
Dai, Dong & Jia

Playing hard to get only works when attainment is the challenge

Folk wisdom suggests playing hard to get is an effective strategy in romantic attraction. However, prior research has yielded little support for this belief. This article seeks to reconcile these contrasting views by investigating how 2 hitherto unconsidered factors, (a) the asymmetry between wanting (motivational) and liking (affective) responses and (b) the degree of psychological commitment, can determine the efficacy of playing hard to get. We propose that person B playing hard to get with person A will simultaneously increase A’s wanting but decrease A’s liking of B. However, such a result will only occur if A is psychologically committed to pursuing further relations with B; otherwise, playing hard to get will decrease both wanting and liking. Two studies confirm these propositions. We discuss implications for interpersonal attraction and the interplay between emotion and motivation in determining preferences.

Lecture 3 – September 19
Relationships and Self: Self-Disclosure and Self- Concept

Interpersonal goals, others’ regard for the self, and self‐esteem: The paradoxical consequences of self‐image and compassionate goals
Canvello & Crocker

Bragging backfires

People often adopt self‐image goals to increase others’ regard for them and perhaps their own self‐esteem. But do these impression management goals achieve their intended result in close relationships? And do they endure over time? We suggest that self‐image goals predict decreased self‐esteem and close others’ regard for the self through decreased responsiveness to others. In contrast, compassionate goals, which reflect a genuine concern for others’ well‐being, predict increased self‐esteem and others’ regard through increased responsiveness. We tested these hypotheses in a longitudinal study of college roommates followed across a semester. Path analyses supported both predictions, suggesting a paradox for interpersonal goals in close relationships: explicit attempts to increase close others’ regard for the self backfire and damage self‐esteem, but having goals to meet others’ needs result in others’ positive regard and promote self‐esteem.

Will You Be There for Me When Things Go Right? Supportive Responses to Positive Event Disclosures
Gable, Gonzaga & Strachaman

Sharing positive events more linked to relationship success

Close relationship partners often share successes and triumphs with one another, but this experience is rarely the focus of empirical study. In this study, 79 dating couples completed measures of relationship well-being and then participated in videotaped interactions in which they took turns discussing recent positive and negative events. Disclosers rated how understood, validated, and cared for they felt in each discussion, and outside observers coded responders’ behavior. Both self-report data and observational codes showed that 2 months later, responses to positive event discussions were more closely related to relationship well-being and break-up than were responses to negative event discussions. The results are discussed in terms of the recurrent, but often overlooked, role that positive emotional exchanges play in building relationship resources.

Daily Self-Disclosure and Sleep in Couples
Kane, Slatcher, Reynolds, Repetti, & Robles

Wives open up and sleep better but men don't. Men open up and everyone sleeps better

An emerging literature provides evidence for the association between romantic relationship quality and sleep, an important factor in health and well-being. However, we still know very little about the specific relationship processes that affect sleep behavior. Therefore, the goal of this study was to examine how self-disclosure, an important relational process linked to intimacy, relationship satisfaction, and health, is associated with sleep behavior. Method: As part of a larger study of family processes, wives (n ϭ 46) and husbands (n ϭ 38) from 46 cohabiting families completed 56 days of daily diaries. Spouses completed evening diaries assessing daily self-disclosure, relationship satisfaction, and mood and morning diaries assessing the prior night’s sleep. Multilevel modeling was used to explore the effects of both daily variation in and average levels across the 56 days of self-disclosure on sleep. Results: Daily variation in self-disclosure predicted sleep outcomes for wives, but not for husbands. On days when wives self-disclosed more to their spouses than their average level, their subjective sleep quality and sleep efficiency that night improved. Furthermore, daily self-disclosure buffered the effect of high negative mood on sleep latency for wives, but not husbands. In contrast, higher average levels of self-disclosure predicted less waking during the night for husbands, but not for wives. Conclusion: The association between self-disclosure and sleep is one mechanism by which daily relationship functioning may influence health and well-being. Gender may play a role in how self-disclosure is associated with sleep.

Are You Happy for Me? How Sharing Positive Events With Others Provides Personal and Interpersonal Benefits
Reis, Smith, Carmichael, Caprariello, Tsai, Rodriguez, & Maniaci

Sharing good news with others increases the perceived value of those events

Sharing good news with others is one way that people can savor those experiences while building personal and interpersonal resources. Although prior research has established the benefits of this process, called capitalization, there has been little research and no experiments to examine the underlying mechanisms. In this article, we report results from 4 experiments and 1 daily diary study conducted to examine 2 mechanisms relevant to capitalization: that sharing good news with others increases the perceived value of those events, especially when others respond enthusiastically, and that enthusiastic responses to shared good news promote the development of trust and a prosocial orientation toward the other. These studies found consistent support for these effects across both interactions with strangers and in everyday close relationships.

Lecture 4 – September 26

An examination of relational-interdependent self-construal, communal strength, and pro-relationship behaviors in friendships

Mattingly, Oswald, & Clark


Individual differences in relational-interdependent self-construal (RISC) are associated with positive relationship characteristics. This suggests that RISC is positively associated with the degree to which individuals view their relationships as communally-oriented (i.e., governed by norms of responsiveness), which should in turn be associated with increased use of pro-relationship behaviors. Thus, the current study explored the associations between RISC, communal strength, and pro-relationship behaviors in friend-ships. As predicted, RISC was positively associated with pro-relationship behavior use, but this associa-tion was mediated by greater communal strength. This suggests that increased RISC is associated with greater relationship satisfaction because the manner in which individuals view their relationships (i.e., communally) explains the association between RISC and constructive relationship behavior.

Are you really just friends? Predicting the audience challenge in cross-sex friendships
Schoonover & McEwan


Cross-sex friends experience a variety of challenges including the audience challenge: when cross-sex friends are mistaken for a romantic couple by other members of their social network. This research sought to explore the various factors that might influence cross-sex friends’ experience of the audience challenge. Cross-sex friends who were strictly platonic were less likely to experience the audience challenge and less likely to be concerned about the audience challenge than individuals in mutual romance, desires romance, or reject romance friendships. Regression analyses indicated cross-sex friends tend to experience the audience challenge the least when their friendship network is supportive of cross-sex friends. The relation between network support and the audience challenge is moderated by romantic desire and sexual activity.

Creating positive out-group attitudes through inter-group couple friendships and implications for compassionate love.
Welker, Slatcher, Baker, & Aron


Building personal relationships with out-group members is an important catalyst of positive intergroup attitudes. In a 2 Â 2 experimental design, Caucasian and African American individuals and couples were randomly assigned to interact in either cross-race or same-race individual dyads and couple pairs. Participants completed pretest measures of race attitudes and engaged in a high self-disclosure closeness-induction task with an in-group or out-group race member in pairs of couples or individuals and completed measures of self-disclosure and intergroup attitudes. These results suggest that intergroup contact in the presence of romantic partners may be particularly effective for improving intergroup attitudes. We explore the implications of these results for developing compassionate love toward out-groups.

Lecture 5 – October 3
Emotion, Attachment, and Close Relationships

Suppression sours sacrifice: Emotional and relational costs of suppressing emotions in romantic relationships.
Impett, E.A., Kogan, A., English, T., John, O., Oveis, C., Gordon, A.M., & Keltner, D.


What happens when people suppress their emotions when they sacrifice for a romantic partner? This multimethod study investigates how suppressing emotions during sacrifice shapes affective and relationship outcomes. In Part 1, dating couples came into the laboratory to discuss important romantic relationship sacrifices. Suppressing emotions was associated with emotional costs for the partner discussing his or her sacrifice. In Part 2, couples participated in a 14-day daily experience study. Within-person increases in emotional suppression during daily sacrifice were associated with decreases in emotional well-being and relationship quality as reported by both members of romantic dyads. In Part 3, suppression predicted decreases in relationship satisfaction and increases in thoughts about breaking up with a romantic partner 3 months later. In the first two parts of the study, authenticity mediated the costly effects of suppression. Implications for research on close relationships and emotion regulation are discussed.

Love alters reactivity to emotions.
Schneiderman, I., Zilberstein-Kra, Y., Leckman, J.L., & Feldman, R.


Periods of bond formation are accompanied by physiological and emotional changes, yet, little is known about the effects of falling in love on the individual’s physiological response to emotions. We examined autonomic reactivity to the presentation of negative and positive films in 112 young adults, including 57 singles and 55 new lovers who began a romantic relationship 2.5 months prior to the experiment Autonomic reactivity was measured by Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia (RSA) to two baseline emotionally neutral films, two negative films, and two positive films. Results demonstrated that RSA in singles decreased during the presentation of negative emotions, indicating physiological stress response. How-ever, no such decrease was found among new lovers, pointing to more optimal vagal regulation during the period of falling in love. Autonomic reactivity, indexed by RSA decrease from the positive to the negative films, was greater among singles as compared to lovers, suggesting that love buffers against autonomic stress and facilitates emotion regulation. Findings suggest that vagal regulation may be one mechanism through which love and attachment reduce stress and promote well-being and health.

Associations between relationship quality and depressive symptoms in same-sex couples.
Whitton, S.W., & Kuryluk, A.D.


Extending research based on different-sex (i.e., heterosexual) couples, the authors explored associations between romantic relationship quality and depressive symptoms in a geographically diverse sample (ϭ
571) of U.S. adults in same-sex relationships. The authors also examined whether this association was moderated by individual characteristics (gender, age, and internalized heterosexism) or relationship factors (relationship length, commitment, and interdependence). Results indicated a moderate negative association between relationship quality and depressive symptoms, echoing findings from different-sex couples. This association was not moderated by gender, age, internalized heterosexism, or relationship length. In contrast, commitment and interdependence did demonstrate moderating effects. Although the negative association between relationship quality and depressive symptoms was present at all levels of commitment and interdependence, it was amplified at higher commitment and interdependence levels. In general, findings contribute to a growing literature suggesting many commonalities between same-sex and opposite sex couples. Specifically, they suggest the importance of relationship quality to the emotional well-being of LGBT adults, supporting clinical interventions and social policies that promote healthy and stable same-sex relationships.

Attachment anxiety uniquely predicts regret proneness in close relationship contexts. 
Joel, S., MacDonald, G., & Plaks, J.E.


Although regret plays a central role in decision making, few studies have explored the nature of regret in close relationships. The authors hypothesized that anxiously attached individuals, who are hypersensitive to relationship threat and prone to ambivalence in close relationships, would be particularly likely to experience regret over relationship-related decisions. Study 1 examined the relative abilities of attachment anxiety and neuroticism to predict regret proneness. Entered as simultaneous pre-dictors, neuroticism was the only significant predictor of general regret proneness, but attachment anxiety was the only significant predictor of interpersonal regret proneness. In Study 2, participants were randomly assigned to read regrettable relational versus nonrelational scenarios. Once again, neuroticism predicted regret in the nonrelational conditions, whereas attachment anxiety predicted regret in the relational conditions. Not only may these findings help explain anxiously attached individuals’ uncertain relational decision-making patterns, but they also highlight an important distinction between attachment anxiety and neuroticism.

Coregulation in romantic partners’ attachment styles: A longitudinal investigation. 
Hudson, N.W., Fraley, R.C., Brumbaugh, C.C., & Vicary, A.M.


The goal of the present research was to examine the coregulation of partner-specific attachment security in romantic relationships. We studied a sample of 172 couples 5 times over 1 year. At each assessment wave, partners independently completed a self-report measure of their security in the relationship. We operationalized attachment coregulation both as direct impacts (i.e., prospective effects of one partner on the other) and coordination (i.e., correlated changes across time). Results indicated that, after taking into account people’s prototypical levels of security, changes in security were coordinated within couples.


Lecture 6 – October 17
Romantic Love

“I Love You More Today Than Yesterday”: Romantic Partners’ Perceptions of Changes in Love and Related Affect Over Time
Susan Sprecher

Partners in romantic relationships provided reports on perceived changes in their love, commitment, and satisfaction and completed contemporaneous scales on the same relationship phenomena multiple times over several years. At each wave of the longitudinal study, participants whose relationships had remained intact perceived that their love and related phenomena had increased since they had last participated in the study. However, their scores on contemporaneous scales did not generally increase over time. Analyses indicated that participants’ reports of change were related to actual change in love, commit-ment, and satisfaction scores and with future relationship stability. Furthermore, participants who experienced a breakup during the longitudinal study reported an overall decrease in their positive affect in the months prior to the breakup.

Evaluating the Physical Attractiveness of Oneself and One’s Romantic Partner Individual and Relationship Correlates of the Love-Is-Blind Bias
Viren Swami, Stefan Stieger, Tanja Haubner, Martin Voracek, and Adrian Furnham

The present study sought to extend recent work by examining individual and relationship variables that predict the love-is-blind bias, that is, a tendency to perceive one’s romantic partner as more attractive than oneself. A sample of 113 men and 143 women completed a battery of tests that included various demographic, individual difference, and relationship-related measures. Results pro-vided support for a love-is-blind bias, in that both women and men rated their romantic partners as significantly more attractive than themselves on overall attractiveness and the attractiveness of various body components. Results also showed that the Big Five person-ality factor of Extraversion, self-esteem, relationship satisfaction, and romantic love were positively correlated with the love-is-blind bias, whereas relationship length and playful love were negatively correlated with the bias. The results of this study are considered in relation to previous work on positive partner illusions.

Romantic love modulates women’s identification of men’s body odors
Johan N. Lundström , Marilyn Jones-Gotman

Romantic love is one of our most potent and powerful emotions, but very little is known with respect to the hormonal and psychological mechanisms in play. Romantic love is thought to help intimate partners stay committed to each other and two mechanisms have been proposed to mediate this commitment: increased attention towards one’s partner or deflected attention away from other potential partners. Both mechanisms find support in the literature. We explored the potential influence of each of these mechanisms by assessing women’s ability to identify (ID) body odors originating from their boyfriend, a same-sex friend, and an opposite-sex friend and the relationship between this ability and the degree of romantic love expressed towards their boyfriend. We hypothesized that an increase in attention towards one’s partner would render a positive correlation between ID of a boyfriend’s body odor and degree of romantic love; conversely, we hypothesized that attention deflected away from other potential partners would render a negative correlation between ID of an opposite-sex friend’s body odor and degree of romantic love for the boyfriend. Our results supported the deflection theory as we found a negative correlation between the degree of romantic love for the subjects’ boyfriends and their ability to ID the body odor of an opposite-sex friend but not of their boyfriend or same-sex friend. Our results indicate that romantic love deflects attention away from potential new partners rather than towards the present partner. These changes are likely mediated by circulating neuropeptides and a testable model is suggested.

Stayovers in emerging adulthood: Who stays over and why?

Emerging adulthood is an intense period of personal development and interpersonal exploration; most emerging adults engage in several romantic relationships of varying commitment levels throughout their late teens and early twenties. The current study explored whether one relationship behavior, staying over, is related to specific demographic characteristics, previous experiences, and personal beliefs and attitudes. A sample of 627 emerging adults were surveyed about their experiences with staying overnight with their romantic partners, their reasons for doing so, and their attitudes about full-time cohabitation. Participants who were older, had cohabited at some point, lived independently from family, viewed religion as unimportant, and had positive attitudes about cohabitation were found to be more likely to stay over.

Does a Long-Term Relationship Kill Romantic Love?
Bianca P. Acevedo and Arthur Aron

This article examines the possibility that romantic love (with intensity, engagement, and sexual interest) can exist in long-term relationships. A review of taxonomies, theory, and research suggests that romantic love, without the obsession component typical of early stage romantic love, can and does exist in long-term marriages, and is associated with marital satisfaction, well-being, and high self-esteem. Supporting the separate roles of romantic love and obsession in long-term relationships, an analysis of a moderately large data set of community couples identified independent latent factors for romantic love and obsession and a subsample of individuals reporting very high levels of romantic love (but not obsession) even after controlling for social desirability. Finally, a meta-analysis of 25 relevant studies found that in long- and short-term relationships, romantic love (without obsession) was strongly associated with relationship satisfaction; but obsession was negatively correlated with it in long-term and positively in short-term relationships.

Lecture 7 – October 24
Sexuality and Relationships

Differing Relationship Outcomes When Sex Happens Before, On, or After First Dates
Brian J. Willoughby, Jason S. Carroll, and Dean M. Busby

While recent studies have suggested that the timing of sexual initiation within a couple’s romantic relationship has important associations with later relationship success, few studies have examined how such timing is associated with relationship quality among unmarried cou-ples. Using a sample of 10,932 individuals in unmarried, romantic relationships, we examined how four sexual-timing patterns (i.e., having sex prior to dating, initiating sex on the first date or shortly after, having sex after a few weeks of dating, and sexual abstinence) were associated with relationship satisfaction, stability, and communication in dating relationships. Results suggested that waiting to initiate sexual intimacy in unmarried relationships was generally associated with positive outcomes. This effect was strongly moderated by relationship length, with individuals who reported early sexual initiation reporting increasingly lower outcomes in relationships of longer than two years.

Sexual Satisfaction and Relationship Happiness in Midlife and Older Couples in Five Countries
Julia R. Heiman, J. Scott Long, Shawna N. Smith, William A. Fisher, Michael S. Sand, Raymond C. Rosen

Sexuality research focuses almost exclusively on individuals rather than couples, though ongoing relationships are very important for most people and cultures. The present study was the first to examine sexual and relationship parameters of middle-aged and older couples in committed relation-shipsof1–51yearsduration.Survey research was conducted in Brazil, Germany, Japan, Spain,and the U.S. targeting 200 men aged 40–70 and their female partners in each country, with 1,009 couples in the final sample. Key demographic, health, physical intimacy, sexual behavior, sexual function, and sexual history variables were used to model relationship happiness and sexual satisfaction.Themedianageswere55formenand52for women; median relationship duration was 25years. Relationship satisfaction in men depended on health,physical intimacy, and sexual functioning, while in women only sexual functioning predicted relationship satisfaction. Models predicting sexual satisfaction included significant physical intimacy and sexual functioning for both genders and, for men, more frequent recent sexual activity and fewer lifetime partners. Longer relationship duration predicted greater relationship happiness and sexual satisfaction for men.However, women in relationships of 20 to 40 years were significantly less likely than men to report relationship happiness. Compared to men, women showed lower
sexual satisfaction early in the relationship and greater sexual satisfaction later. Within the long-term committed relationship context, there were significant gender differences in correlates of sexual andrelationshipsatisfaction,withsexualfunctioninga common predictor of both types of satisfaction and physical intimacy a more consistent and salient predictor for men.

Identifying and Explicating Variation among Friends with Benefits Relationships
Paul A. Mongeau, Kendra Knight, and Jade Williams, Jennifer Eden, Christina Shaw

This two-study report identifies and validates a typology containing seven types of ‘‘friends with benefits relationships’’ (FWBRs). Study 1 asked heterosexual students to define the term FWBR and to describe their experience with the relationship type. Qualitative analysis of these data identified seven types of FWBRs (true friends, network opportunism, just sex, three types of transition in [successful, failed, and unintentional], and transition out). Study 2 quantitatively differentiates these relationship types in the amount of nonsexual interaction, strength of the friendship at the first sexual interaction, and history of romantic relationships with the FWBR partner (before the FWBR, after it, or both). Results from both studies clearly suggest that FWBRs represent a diverse set of relationship formulations where both the benefits (i.e., repeated sexual contact) and the friends (i.e., relationship between part-ners) vary widely. In many cases, FWBRs represent a desire for, or an attempt at, shifting the relationship from friends to a romantic partnership. Other implications are discussed, as are limitations and directions for future research. The diverse nature of FWBRs provides challenges for researchers that likely require multiple methods and theoretical frames.

The Importance of Sexual Self-Disclosure to Sexual Satisfaction and Functioning in Committed Relationships
Uzma S. Rehman, PhD, Alessandra H. Rellini, PhD, and Erin Fallis MA

Introduction. Past research indicates that sexual self-disclosure, or the degree to which an individual is open with his or her partner about sexual preferences, is a key aspect of sexual satisfaction and that partner’s lack of knowledge about one’s sexual preferences is associated with persistent sexual dysfunction. Aims. To replicate and extend past research by examining (i) how one’s own levels of sexual self-disclosure are related to one’s own sexual health (after controlling for partner’s levels of sexual self-disclosure); (ii) how one’s partner’s levels of sexual self-disclosure are associated with one’s own sexual health (after controlling for one’s own levels of sexual self-disclosure); and (iii) whether gender moderates the associations between sexual self-disclosure and sexual health. Main Outcome Measures. Scores from the Golombok Rust Inventory of Sexual Satisfaction and the Sexual Communication Satisfaction Scale. Methods. A cross-sectional dyadic study using a convenience sample of 91 heterosexual couples in long-term committed relationships. Data were analyzed using the Actor–Partner Interdependence Model. Results. One’s own level of sexual self-disclosure is positively associated with one’s own sexual satisfaction, b=-0.24, t(172.85) =-3.50, P < 0.001. Furthermore, partner’s level of sexual self-disclosure is associated with men’s sexual satisfaction but not with women’s sexual satisfaction, b=-0.45, t(86.81) =-4.06, P < 0.001 and b= 0.02, t(87.00) = 0.20, ns, respectively. The association between own self-disclosure and sexual problems is stronger for women as compared with men, b=-0.72, t(87.00) =-6.31, P < 0.001 and b=-0.24, t(86.27) =-3.04, P < 0.01, respectively. Conclusions. Our results demonstrate that sexual self-disclosure is significantly associated with sexual satisfaction and functioning for both men and women, albeit in different ways. Our findings underscore the importance of sexual self-disclosure and highlight the importance of the interpersonal level of analysis in understanding human sexuality.

Lecture 8 – October 31
Relationship Communication

Let’s Get Serious: Communicating Commitment in Romantic Relationships
Joshua M. Ackerman & Vladas Griskevicius

Are men or women more likely to confess love first in romantic relationships? And how do men and women feel when their partners say “I love you”? An evolutionary–economics perspective contends that women and men incur different potential costs and gain different potential benefits from confessing love. Across 6 studies testing current and former romantic relationships, we found that although people think that women are the first to confess love and feel happier when they receive such confessions, it is actually men who confess love first and feel happier when receiving confessions. Consistent with predictions from our model, additional studies have shown that men’s and women’s reactions to love confessions differ in important ways depending on whether the couple has engaged in sexual activity. These studies have demonstrated that saying and hearing “I love you” has different meanings depending on who is doing the confessing and when the confession is being made. Beyond romantic relationships, an evolutionary– economics perspective suggests that displays of commitment in other types of relationships—and reactions to these displays—will be influenced by specific, functional biases.

The Premarital Communication Roots of Marital Distress and Divorce: The First Five Years of Marriage
Howard J. Markman, Galena K. Rhoades, Scott M. Stanley, and Erica P. Ragan, Sarah W. Whitton

Using data from 210 couples who provided data across the first 5 years of marriage, we examined how premarital communication quality was related to divorce and later distress. The results showed that premarital observed negative and positive communication nearly reached significance as predictors of divorce, while self-reported negative communication was significantly associated with divorce. In terms of marital adjustment, we found that both premarital observed and self-reported negative premarital communication (but not observed positive communication) were associated with lower adjustment during the first 5 years of marriage. The most important questions addressed in this study pertain to how positive and negative dimensions of communication change over time and how these changes are related to being distressed or nondistressed after 5 years of marriage. This is the first study, to our knowledge, to examine the changes in communication over time that are so central to theories of the development of marital distress and for research-based interventions. We found that all couples showed decreases in negative communication over time, but the nondistressed group declined significantly more than the distressed group in negative communication, suggesting they are handling negative emotions better. Implications for future research on the develop-ment of relationship distress and for enhancing research-based couples’ intervention pro-grams are provided.

By its very nature, relationship commitment is generated in the context of a relationship and becomes relational when it is communicated in some way to the other. This study investigated how expressions of commitment and commitment-related perceptions are interdependently connected among romantic partners. The authors derived and tested a dyadic cyclical model of the everyday expressions of commitment with a sample of 189 romantically involved couples. Results revealed that individual’s level of commitment are associated with her or his own expressions of commitment, those expressions of commitment are noticed by the partners, and the partner’s level of commitment is associated with those perceptions of the other’s expressions of commitment. The research sheds light on the complex ways intimate couples experience and express commitment in their everyday lives.

Lecture 9 – November 7
Conflict, Jealousy, Infidelity, and Aggression

Recovering from conflict in romantic relationships: A developmental perspective.
Salvatore, J.E., Kuo, S.I., Steele, R.D., Simpson, J.A., Collins, W.A.

This study adopted a developmental perspective on recovery from conflict in romantic relationships. Participants were 73 young adults (target participants), studied since birth, and their romantic partners. A novel observational coding scheme was used to evaluate each participant’s degree of conflict recovery, operationalized as the extent to which the participant disengaged from conflict during a 4-min “cool-down” task immediately following a 10-min conflict discussion. Conflict recovery was systematically associated with developmental and dyadic processes. Targets who were rated as securely attached more times in infancy recovered from conflict better, as did their romantic partners. Concurrently, having a romantic partner who displayed better recovery predicted more positive relationship emotions and greater relationship satisfaction. Prospectively, target participants’ early attachment security and their partners’ degree of conflict recovery interacted to predict relationship stability 2 years later, such that having a partner who recovered from conflict better buffered targets with insecure histories.

Disarming jealousy in couples relationships: A multidimensional approach.
Scheinkman, M., & Werneck, D.

Jealousy is a powerful emotional force in couples’ relationships. In just seconds it can turn love into rage and tenderness into acts of control, intimidation, and  even suicide or murder. Yet it has been surprisingly neglected in the couples  therapy field. In this paper we define jealousy broadly as a hub of contradictory  feelings, thoughts, beliefs, actions, and reactions, and consider how it can range  from a normative predicament to extreme obsessive manifestations. We ground  jealousy in couples’ basic relational tasks and utilize the construct of the  vulnerability cycle to describe processes of derailment. We offer guidelines on  how to contain the couple’s escalation, disarm their ineffective strategies and  power struggles, identify underlying vulnerabilities and yearnings, and  distinguish meanings that belong to the present from those that belong to the  past, or to other contexts. The goal is to facilitate relational and personal changes that can yield a better fit between the partners’ expectations.

Psychological distress: Precursor or consequence of dating infidelity?
Hall, J.H., & Fincham, F.D.

Everyday aggression takes many forms.
Richardson, D.S.

Lecture 10 – November 14
Breaking up and Divorce

Negative cognitions in emotional problems following romantic relationship break-ups.boelen-reijntjes-2009
Boelen, P.A., & Reijntjes, A.

Breaking up is hard to do: The impact of unmarried relationship dissolution on mental health and life satisfaction.rhoades-kamp-dush-atkins-stanley-markman-2011
Rhoades, G.K., Kamp Dush, C.M., Atkins, D.C., Stanley, S.M., Markman, H.J.

Implicit negative evaluations about ex-partner predicts break-up adjustment: The brighter side of dark cognitions.fagundes-2011
Fagundes, C.P.

Incremental change or initial differences? Testing two models of marital deterioration.lavner-bradbury-karney-2012
Lavner, J.A., Bradbury, T.N., & Karney, B.R.

Will I divorce or have a happy marriage?: Gender differences in comparative optimism and estimation of personal chances among U.S. college students.helweg-larsen-harding-klein-2011
Helweg-Larsen, M., Harding, H.G., & Klein, W.M.P.

Lecture 11 – November 21
Loss and Bereavement


Does relationship quality moderate the impact of marital bereavement on depressive symptoms?
Abakoumkin, G., Stroebe, W., & Stroebe, M.

Prospective predictors of positive emotions following spousal loss. ong-fuller-rowell-bonanno-2010
Ong, A.D., Fuller-Rowell, T.E., & Bonanno, G.A.

Mediating processes in bereavement: The role of rumination, threatening grief interpretations, and deliberate grief avoidance.van-der-houwen-stroebe-schut-stroebe-van-den-bout-2010
Van der Houwen, K., Stroebe, M., Schut, H., & Stroebe, W.

Continuing bonds in adjustment to bereavement: Impact of abrupt versus gradual separation.
Stroebe, M.S., Abakoumkin, G., Stroebe, W., & Schut, H. stroebe-abakoumin-stroebe-schut-2012

Lecture 12 – November 28
Relationship Maintenance, Satisfaction, and Thriving


Development of self-esteem and relationship satisfaction in couples: Two longitudinal studies. erol-orth-2014
Erol, R.Y., & Orth, U.

Relationship-specific identification and spontaneous relationship maintenance processes.linardatos-lydon-2011
Linardatos, L., & Lydon, J.E.

To have and to hold: Gratitude promotes relationship maintenance in intimate bonds. gordon-impett-kogan-oveis-keltner-2012
Gordon, A.M., Impett, E.A., Kogan, A., Oveis, C., & Keltner, D.

Ways of giving benefits in marriage: Norm use, relationship satisfaction, and attachment-related variability.clark-lemay-graham-pataki-finkel-2010
Clark, M.S., Lemay, E.P., Jr.

Lecture 13 – December 5
Social Support, Coping, and Health


Helping each other grow: Romantic partner support, self-improvement, and relationship quality. overallfletcher-simpson-2010
Overall, N.C., Fletcher, G.J.O., & Simpson, J.A.

The role of stress on close relationships and marital satisfaction. randall-bodenmann-2009
Randall, A.K., & Bodenmann, G.

Negative aspects of close relationships as a predictor of increased body mass index and waist circumference: The Whitehall II study. kouvonen-et-al-2011
Kouvonen, A., Stafford, M., De Vogil, R., Shipley, M.J., Marmot, M.G., Cox, T., Vahtera, J., Vaananen, A., Heponiemi, T., Singh-Manoux, A., & Kivimaki, M.
Stadler, G., Snyder, K.A., Horn, A.B., Shrout, P.E., Bolger, N.P.

Close relationships and health in daily life: A review and empirical data on intimacy and somatic symptoms. stadler-snyder-horn-shrout-bolger-2012
Stadler, G., Snyder, K.A., Horn, A.B., Shrout, P.E., Bolger, N.P.

Bidirectional associations between sleep (quality and duration) and psychosocial functioning across the university years.tavernier-willoughby-2014
Tavernier, R., & Willoughby, T.

Lecture 14 – December 12
Positive Psychology