19 August 2010

How Can You Predict The Strength of Your Relationship?

*** Check out the latest study and new test devised to help you predict the strength of your relationship.




From Denny: Leave it up to medical researchers to figure out a test that can tell us when to make a fast exit out of a relationship. The things these guys study... :)

Researchers believe they have devised a test that can tell if a relationship can hold together or fall apart. They think they can predict the strength of a relationship.

Human relationships experience a lot of emotional pain and it seems we are forever looking for that pain avoidance - at least in American culture. Well, what if we did know exactly when it was a good idea to exit that romantic relationship? Figuring out whether to break up or stay together is often a wrenching decision for most people. So, what if science has figured out a way to make the process easier?

The University of Rochester researchers who did this study, and devised the test, say it involves discovering what people really think and feel about their partners. That sounds simple enough.

Turns out that previous studies found people were very reluctant, even unable to express their true feelings about their partners. Ronald D. Rogge, coauthor of this study, says, "That assumes that they know themselves how happy they are, and that's not always the case."

So, Rogge and his team decided on a test where volunteers supplied their partner's first name and then two other words that related to that partner, like an affectionate pet name or perhaps a distinctive characteristic. Then the volunteers were asked to watch a monitor as words were presented on the screens. Positive ideas were displayed like "vacation" and "peace" also paired with the partner-related words. Then bad ideas, negative connotations, like "tragedy" and "criticize" were paired with the partner-related words.

The volunteers watching the monitors were then asked to press a bar when they saw various words. One test featured the negative connotation words and partner-related words and another test involved the positive pairings. Researchers hoped to get people to automatically react to the words.

What researchers found is that if people generally had good associations with their partners they would definitely perform the "good words" positive connotations task easier than the "bad words" task.

Researchers also discovered in this test that those who associated bad words with their partners, had greater difficulty associating their partner with good words, well, these people were far more likely to separate their relationship during the next year.

Sometimes, the indirect approach works better with uncovering what is difficult to express. When asked directly people often feel pressured to give the appropriate societal response as opposed to how they really feel about their partner. This test would be useful for therapists when clients are unwilling or fearful to divulge their true feelings about their partner. It also helps to pinpoint the nature of the relationship problem.

From the study: "In deteriorating relationships, the negative associations people begin to form about their partner may be too subtle or threatening for them to recognize in themselves or too socially undesirable for them to report to others."

The study was in the journal Psychological Science.



*** Photo by Kjunstorms @ flickr

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