Anger in spats is more about marital climate than heat of the moment, Baylor study shows
May 21, 2012
How good are married couples at recognizing each other's emotions during conflicts? In general, pretty good, according to a study by a Baylor University researcher. But if your partner is angry, that might tell more about the overall climate of your marriage than about what your partner is feeling at the moment of the dispute.
What's more, "if your partner is angry, you are likely to miss the fact that your partner might also be feeling sad," said Keith Sanford, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor University's College of Arts & Sciences. His study - "The Communication of Emotion During Conflict in Married Couples" -is published online in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Family Psychology.
"I found that people were most likely to express anger, not in the moments where they felt most angry, but rather in the situations where there was an overall climate of anger in their relationship - situations where both partners had been feeling angry over a period of time," he said. "This means that if a couple falls into a climate of anger, they tend to continue expressing anger regardless of how they actually feel . . . It becomes a kind of a trap they cannot escape."
Common spats that might fester deal with in-laws, chores, money, affection and time spent on the computer.
Sanford found that when people express anger, they often also feel sad. But while a partner will easily and immediately recognize expressions of anger, the spouse often will fail to notice the sadness.
"When it comes to perceiving emotion in a partner, anger trumps sadness," he said.
Previous research has found that genuine expressions of sadness during a conflict can sometimes draw partners closer together, and it potentially can enable couples to break out of a climate of anger.
"A take-home message is that there may be times where it is beneficial to express feelings of sadness during conflict, but sad feelings are most likely to be noticed if you are not simultaneously expressing anger," Sanford said.
The findings were based on self-reporting by 83 married couples as well as observation and rating of their behavior by research assistants, who were given permission by the couples to videotape them through a one-way mirror. Couples were asked to choose two areas of conflict and talk to each other about them - one chosen by the wife, the other by the husband. They also were asked to rate their emotions and those of their partners before and after each discussion.
Couples' "insider knowledge" of one another might be expected to make it easier for them to read each other, Sanford said. But the only time in which couples made significant use of insider knowledge to distinguish emotions was in interpreting soft emotions -- such as hurt or disappointment -- in conflicts about specific events, the study showed.
While women expressed soft emotions more, they were no better at perceiving hard emotions (such as anger) or soft ones, Sanford said.
*Sanford has developed a free interactive internet program for couples titled the "Couple Conflict Consultant" located at www.pairbuilder.com. This program provides a personalized assessment of 14 different areas of conflict resolution and a large resource bank of information and recommendations for couples.
To learn more about Sanford and his work, visit http://www.baylor.edu/psychologyneuroscience/index.php?id=72589
Related Conflict Current Events and Conflict News ArticlesYes, black holes exist in gravitational theories with unbounded speeds of propagation!
Lorentz invariance (LI) is a cornerstone of modern physics, and strongly supported by observations. Reducing work-family conflicts in the workplace helps people to sleep better
A multi-institution team of sleep researchers recently found that workers who participated in an intervention aimed at reducing conflict between work and familial responsibilities slept an hour more each week and reported greater sleep sufficiency than those who did not participate in the intervention.Flexible work schedules improve health, sleep
Giving employees more control over their work schedules may help curb sleep deficiency, according to health researchers. Staff at psychiatric hospitals often face threats of physical violence
In a survey of 348 workers at a large psychiatric hospital, 99% of the staff reported verbal conflict with patients, and 70% reported being assaulted during the previous 12 months.New research reveals the power of hierarchy in high-pressure situations
Is hierarchy in groups good, or bad? In a word: yes, according to new research from management researchers at Columbia Business School and INSEAD.Teen girls report less sexual victimization after virtual reality assertiveness training
Teen girls were less likely to report being sexually victimized after learning to assertively resist unwanted sexual overtures and practicing resistance in a realistic virtual environment, finds a new study.Health consciousness: Do consumers believe healthy food always tastes bad?
Why are health awareness campaigns failing to reduce skyrocketing obesity rates? According to a new study in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, consumers continue to make their eating decisions based on taste alone.Early parental program improves long-term childhood outcomes
Children whose parents participated in a prenatal program aimed at enhancing couples' co-parenting relationship were better adjusted at age seven than children whose parents were assigned to a control group, according to Penn State researchers. New report says no technological replacement exists for bulk data collection
No software-based technique can fully replace the bulk collection of signals intelligence, but methods can be developed to more effectively conduct targeted collection and to control the usage of collected data, says a new report from the National Research Council.Heart arrhythmias detected in deep-diving marine mammals
A new study of dolphins and seals shows that despite their remarkable adaptations to aquatic life, exercising while holding their breath remains a physiological challenge for marine mammals.
More Conflict Current Events and Conflict News Articles
The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict|
by Arbinger Institute (Creator)
What if conflicts at home, conflicts at work, and conflicts in the world stem from the same root cause? And what if individually and collectively we systematically misunderstand that cause, and unwittingly perpetuate the very problems we think we are trying to solve?
Through an intriguing story of parents struggling with their troubled children and with their own personal problems, "The Anatomy of Peace" shows how to get past the preconceived ideas and self-justifying reactions that keep us from seeing the world clearly and dealing with it effectively. Yusuf al-Falah, an Arab, and Avi Rozen, a Jew, each lost his father at the hands of the other's ethnic cousins. As the story unfolds, we discover how they came together, how they help warring parents and children to come together, and...
The Coward's Guide to Conflict: Empowering Solutions for Those Who Would Rather Run Than Fight|
by Tim Ursiny (Author)
Nobody likes conflict, but you can't avoid it. Top performers just like you face problems every day. If you know how to deal with conflict well, you can turn it into your biggest opportunity for success.
The Top Performer's Guide to Conflict is your essential conflict handbook, giving you the tools you need to manage conflict and come out on top. Discover:
--Why you must know how to handle conflict
--How to recognize conflict before it happens
--The best ways to deal with difficult people
--How to build strength by overcoming problems
--Secrets to impacting and leading others
--Tools to guide you past conflict
Top performers face conflict head-on and come out on top. You are just a short read away from mastering this essential skill.
Conflict: 2nd Edition|
by Daniel Druckman (Author), Larissa Fast (Author), Sandra I. Cheldelin (Editor)
The contributors to this fully revised volume, a team of international experts with both academic and professional experience in the field, provide a broad range of geographical and disciplinary perspectives. Covering theory, research and practice, they analyze the different types of conflict and offer a thorough examination of the influences on conflict - structural, situational, strategic and cultural. Exploring conflict management and resolution, they also discuss negotiation, mediation, peace-keeping and peace-building.
Resolving Everyday Conflict|
by Ken Sande (Author), Kevin Johnson (Author)
Ken Sande, author of the bestselling classic The Peacemaker, has long been a trusted resource on the topic of conflict resolution. In Resolving Everyday Conflict, Sande distills his message to the essentials, quickly equipping readers with the tools they need to bring peace to their relationships. Everyone encounters conflict-whether it be with a coworker, family member, friend, or complete stranger. And yet we all desire harmony in our relationships. Resolving Everyday Conflict is a practical, biblical, concise guide to peacemaking in everyday life that can turn tumultuous relationships into peaceful ones.
by Daniel Dana (Author)
Successful management depends on the ability to quickly and effectively manage conflicts. Conflict Resolution includes hands-on information for effectively communicating with employees, disciplining and even terminating employees, understanding and using organizational politics, and more.
The Dynamics of Conflict: A Guide to Engagement and Intervention|
by Bernard Mayer (Author)
Praise for the Second Edition of "The Dynamics of Conflict": "Mayer once again demonstrates his unique ability to weave theory and practice together with real-world examples - whether about warring nations or a family dispute - to help readers better understand both the fundamentals and nuances involved in working in the conflict arena. "The Dynamics of Conflict" is a very important read for anyone who works with people in conflict". (Peter Salem, executive director, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts). "In his latest book, Mayer explores the theoretical underpinnings of conflict as it relates to cognitive, emotional, and behavioral dimensions. Personal stories and examples provide practical skills in communication and negotiation, including how to deal with power, impasse, and...
The Fear Of Conflict Treatment: How To Overcome Your Fear Of Conflict And Express Yourself With Confidence For Life (Anger Management, Anxiety, Worry, ... Conflict Resolution, Conflict Management)|
Discover How To Overcome Your Fear Of Conflict And Express Yourself with Confidence for Life
Today only, get this Kindle book for just $2.99. Regularly priced
at $4.99. Read on your PC, Mac, smart phone, tablet or Kindle device.
You’re about to discover proven steps and strategies on how you would be able to overcome the fear of conflict and perform better; not just at the workplace but in life as a whole. After all, for some, these fears can become debilitating and as such it can hinder them from enjoying life to the fullest.
Our fears tend to pull us down when we could be soaring and achieving great things for ourselves and our loved ones. Why would you allow that to happen when there’s something that can be done?
People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts|
by Robert Bolton (Author)
Improve your personal and professional relationships instantly with this timeless guide to communication, listening skills, body language, and conflict resolution.
A wall of silent resentment shuts you off from someone you love....You listen to an argument in which neither party seems to hear the other....Your mind drifts to other matters when people talk to you....
People Skills is a communication-skills handbook that can help you eliminate these and other communication problems. Author Robert Bolton describes the twelve most common communication barriers, showing how these “roadblocks” damage relationships by increasing defensiveness, aggressiveness, or dependency. He explains how to acquire the ability to listen, assert yourself, resolve conflicts, and work out...
Everything Is Workable: A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution|
by Diane Musho Hamilton (Author)
Using mindfulness to work with and resolve the inevitable interpersonal conflicts that arise in all areas of life.
"Wonderfully engaging, perceptive, and wise."—William L. Ury, co-author of Getting to Yes
Conflict is going to be part of your life—as long as you have relationships, hold down a job, or have dry cleaning to be picked up. Bracing yourself against it won’t make it go away, but if you approach it consciously, you can navigate it in a way that not only honors everyone involved but makes it a source of deep insight as well. Seasoned mediator Diane Hamilton provides the skill set you need to engage conflict with wisdom and compassion, and even—sometimes—to be grateful for it. She teaches how to:
• Cultivate the mirror-like quality of attention as...
by William Wilmot (Author), Joyce Hocker (Author)
Interpersonal Conflict explains the key dynamics of personal conflicts that we all face. Written for courses such as Communication and Conflict, Interpersonal Conflict, Conflict Management, Conflict and Negotiation, and Conflict in Personal Relationships, this textbook examines the central principles of effective conflict management in a wide variety of contexts--whether at home or on the job. Its combination of up-to-date research and examples gives students a theoretical and practical foundation in conflict management.