OBJECTIVES: Spouses are proximal contexts for and influence each other's behaviors, particularly in old age. In this article, we forward an integrated approach that merges state space grid methods adapted from the dynamic systems literature with sequence analysis methods adapted from molecular biology into a "grid-sequence" method for studying interdyad differences in intradyad dynamics.
METHOD: Using dyadic data from 108 older couples (MAge = 75.18 years) with six within-day emotion and activity reports over 7 days, we illustrate how grid-sequence analysis can be used to identify a taxonomy of dyads with different emotion dynamics.
RESULTS: Results provide a basis for measuring a set of dyad-level variables that capture dynamic equilibrium, daily routines, and interdyad differences. Specifically, we identified four groups of dyads who differed in how their moment-to-moment happiness was organized, with some evidence that these patterns were related to dyad-level differences in agreement on amount of time spent with partner and in subjective health.
DISCUSSION: Methodologically, grid-sequence analysis extends the toolbox of techniques for analysis of dyadic experience sampling data. Substantively, we identify patterns of dyad-level microdynamics that may serve as new markers of risk/protective factors and potential points for intervention in older adults' proximal context.