Anger in spats is more about marital climate than heat of the moment, Baylor study showsMay 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.
To learn more about Sanford and his work, visit http://www.baylor.edu/psychologyneuroscience/index.php?id=72589
Related Emotions Articles:
New research suggests that whereas mothers who are more supportive of their children's negative emotions rate their children as being more socially skilled, these same children appear less socially adjusted when rated by teachers.
Fear of death is a fundamental part of the human experience -- we dread the possibility of pain and suffering and we worry that we'll face the end alone.
The strategies people use to manage their emotions fall into three core groupings, according to newly published research from the University at Buffalo.
We use others' eyes -- whether they're widened or narrowed -- to infer emotional states, and the inferences we make align with the optical function of those expressions, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Emotions are not innately programmed into our brains, but, in fact, are cognitive states resulting from the gathering of information, New York University Professor Joseph LeDoux and Richard Brown, a professor at the City University of New York, conclude.
Reframing how we think about a situation is a common strategy for managing our emotions, but a new study suggests that using this reappraisal strategy in situations we actually have control over may be associated with lower well-being.
Studies have demonstrated that oxytocin plays a role in facilitating the perception of emotions in other people's facial expressions.
Why stores should take shoppers' emotions into account when setting prices.
Chronic fatigue syndrome patients report they are more anxious and distressed than people who don't have the condition, and they are also more likely to suppress those emotions.
Botulin injections in the facial muscles, which relax expression lines and make one's skin appear younger as a result of a mild paralysis, have another, not easily predictable effect: they undermine the ability to understand the facial expressions of other people.
Related Emotions Reading:
How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain
by Lisa Feldman Barrett (Author)
A new theory of how the brain constructs emotions that could revolutionize psychology, health care, the legal system, and our understanding of the human mind
Emotions feel automatic, like uncontrollable reactions to things we think and experience. Scientists have long supported this assumption by claiming that emotions are hardwired in the body or the brain. Today, however, the science of emotion is in the midst of a revolution on par with the discovery of relativity in physics and natural selection in biology--and this paradigm shift has far-reaching implications for us... View Details
The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You
by Karla McLaren (Author)
Your emotions contain brilliant information. When you learn to welcome them as your allies, they can reveal creative solutions to any situation. For 35 years, empathic counselor and researcher Karla McLaren has developed a set of practical tools for the real-world stresses of family, career, and the quest for personal fulfillment. In The Language of Emotions, she presents her breakthrough teachings for a new and empowering relationship with your feeling states.
Your emotions—especially the dark and dishonored ones—hold a tremendous amount of energy. We’ve all seen... View Details
The Emotion Code
by Bradley Nelson (Author)
In The Emotion Code, renowned holistic physician and lecturer Dr. Bradley Nelson skillfully lays bare the inner workings of the subconscious mind. He reveals how emotionally-charged events from your past can still be haunting you in the form of "trapped emotions"; emotional energies that literally inhabit your body. Dr. Nelson explains clearly and concisely how trapped emotions can create pain, malfunction and eventual disease. In addition, trapped emotions can exert a dramatic effect on how you think, the choices that you make, and how successful you will be. Perhaps the most important... View Details
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression
by Angela Ackerman (Author), Becca Puglisi (Author)
One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character's emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each. Using its easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. The Emotion Thesaurus also tackles common emotion-related writing problems and provides methods to overcome them. This writing tool encourages writers to show, not tell emotion and is a... View Details
Emotions Revealed, Second Edition: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life
by Paul Ekman Ph.D. (Author)
"A tour de force. If you read this book, you'll never look at other people in quite the same way again."―Malcolm Gladwell
Renowned psychologist Paul Ekman explains the roots of our emotions―anger, fear, disgust, sadness, and happiness―and shows how they cascade across our faces, providing clear signals to those who can identify the clues. As featured in Malcolm Gladwell's bestseller Blink, Ekman's Facial Action Coding System offers intense training in recognizing feelings in spouses, children, colleagues, even strangers on the street.
In Emotions... View Details
Emotions!: Making Sense of Your Feelings
by Mary Lamia (Author), Ph.D. (Author)
Emotions affect motivation, self-awareness, social relationships, decision-making, self-control, and your ability to achieve goals. Yet many young adults have little understanding about how emotions actually manifest in daily life. In this book, clinical psychologist Mary Lamia breaks down individual emotions such as shame, anger, hope, and happiness and shows teens where each emotion originates, how it makes you feel physically and mentally, and what you can do about it if it feels too big or out of control. This is an invaluable book for any teen struggling with strong emotions or wanting... View Details
Emotions: Confront the Lies. Conquer with Truth.
by Charles F. Stanley (Author)
New York Times bestselling author and trusted pastor Dr. Charles Stanley shares practical guidance and encouragement on a topic that touches every person on earth—emotions.
God has gifted us with emotions since the very beginning—and he did so with very concrete purposes in mind—so that we can enjoy life, so we can connect with others, and so we can reflect God's image in us. But too often, instead of making the best of this gift, our emotions make the worst of us.
Though we cannot see, taste, or touch our emotions, we are constantly affected by their... View Details
Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills for Helping You Manage Mood Swings, Control Angry Outbursts, and ... with Others (Instant Help Book for Teens)
by Sheri Van Dijk MSW (Author)
Let's face it: life gives you plenty of reasons to get angry, sad, scared, and frustrated-and those feelings are okay. But sometimes it can feel like your emotions are taking over, spinning out of control with a mind of their own. To make matters worse, these overwhelming emotions might be interfering with school, causing trouble in your relationships, and preventing you from living a happier life.
Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens is a workbook that can help. In this book, you'll find new ways of managing your feelings so that you'll be ready to handle anything... View Details
Emotions: Freedom from Anger, Jealousy and Fear
by Osho (Author), Osho International Foundation (Compiler)
This book is a simple guide to a better understanding of emotions. Anger, jealousy, and fear are the three big topics of this book, together with some simple meditations to deal with these emotions. The book consist of short quotes and text excerpts, giving the reader unusual and new insights into an understanding of emotions. Our feelings play a profound role in how we feel about ourselves, and they can even affect our physical health. Often we are trapped in the dilemma between "expression" and "repression." Although expressing our emotions can easily scare or hurt others, by repressing... View Details
Molecules Of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine
by Candace B. Pert (Author)
Why do we feel the way we feel? How do our thoughts and emotions affect our health? Are our bodies and minds distinct from each other or do they function together as parts of an interconnected system?
In her groundbreaking book Molecules of Emotion, Candace Pert provides startling and decisive answers to these and other challenging questions that scientists and philosophers have pondered for centuries.
Her pioneering research on how the chemicals inside our bodies form a dynamic information network, linking mind and body, is not only provocative, it is revolutionary. By... View Details