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 ArticlesExperience with family verbal conflict as a child can help in stressful situations as an adult
The holiday season gives people the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family each year. Sometimes these interactions can be stressful, especially around the Thanksgiving table where a heated debate can occur. The Lancet: Worldwide action needed to address hidden crisis of violence against women and girls
Current efforts to prevent violence against women and girls are inadequate, according to a new Series published in The Lancet.Effectiveness of campaigns addressing violence against women and girls examined
Levels of violence against women and girls--such as female genital mutilation, trafficking, forced marriage and intimate partner violence--remain high across the world despite the global attention the issue has received.For women, job authority adds to depression symptoms
Job authority increases symptoms of depression among women, but decreases them among men, according to a new study from University of Texas at Austin sociologist Tetyana Pudrovska. Education empowers Canadians but raises risks of overwork and work-family stress
The higher your level of education, the greater your earnings and your sense of "personal mastery" or being in control of your fate, University of Toronto researchers say. But wait: there's a downside.Study finds wide variation in quality, content of clinical cancer guidelines
What's the best way to treat rectal cancer? Consult any of five top clinical guidelines for rectal cancer and you will get a different answer, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.Teens who mature early at greater risk of depression, study says
Youth who enter puberty ahead of their peers are at heightened risk of depression, although the disease develops differently in girls than in boys, a new study suggests.Job authority increases depression symptoms in women, decreases them in men
A new study finds that having job authority increases symptoms of depression among women, but decreases them among men. Taking antibiotics during pregnancy increases risk for child becoming obese
A study just released by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found that children who were exposed to antibiotics in the second or third trimester of pregnancy had a higher risk of childhood obesity at age 7. Acculturative stress found to be root cause of high depression rates in Latino youth
Researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis say acculturative stress may explain, in part, why Indiana's Latino youth face an alarming disparity in depression and suicide rates when compared to their white counterparts.
More Conflict Current Events and Conflict News Articles
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 Mastery: Questions to Guide You|
by Cinnie Noble (Author)
This book is about expanding perspectives on common aspects of conflict experiences – before, during, and after they arise – through the use of reflective questions and commentary. Metaphors, plays on words, and other questioning methods invite readers to think and feel differently about these aspects and try new and different ways of viewing and being in conflict. The questions are also designed to expand the quest to become more conflict masterful by making the route there more interesting and positive.
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?
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...
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...
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...
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.
Everybody Wins: The Chapman Guide to Solving Conflicts without Arguing (Chapman Guides)|
by Gary Chapman (Author)
Every couple has disagreements. All too often, though, when we engage in arguments, our goal is not to resolve the conflict at hand, but rather, to win the fight. Unfortunately, when you win an argument, your spouse is the loser, and nobody wants to be or live with a loser. When you resolve a conflict, your spouse becomes your friend. Good marriages are based on friendship, not on winning arguments. Now, Gary Chapman provides couples with a simple blueprint for achieving win-win solutions to everyday conflicts and disagreements. By learning how to listen empathetically, respecting each other's ideas and feelings, and understanding why particular issues are so important to their spouse, couples can find solutions that result not only in resolving the conflict at hand, but also leave both...
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...