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Temporal dynamics of couples’ communication behaviors in conflict discussions


Leuchtmann, Lorena; Milek, Anne; Bernecker, Katharina; Nussbeck, Fridtjof W; Backes, Sabine; Martin, Mike; Zemp, Martina; Brandstätter, Veronika; Bodenmann, Guy (2018). Temporal dynamics of couples’ communication behaviors in conflict discussions. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships:ePub ahead of print.

Abstract

Negative and positive conflict communication predicts long-term relationship satisfaction. However, some studies show harmful effects and others show beneficial effects of negative conflict communication on long-term relationship satisfaction. One reason for the heterogeneous results might be that most studies focused on aggregated behaviors across a conflict interaction but neglected the temporal dynamics within such an interaction. This study examined whether individual initial levels and temporal trajectories of negative and positive communications predict long-term relationship satisfaction, and whether self-efficacy beliefs about clarity of other’s feelings (CoF) alter initial levels and temporal trajectories of negative and positive communications. Negative and positive communications were measured based on sequentially coded conflict discussions of 365 couples; self-efficacy beliefs about CoF and relationship satisfaction were measured by self-report questionnaires at baseline and at four annual follow-up assessments. Results revealed that women’s initial positive communication predicted higher intercepts of both partners’ relationship satisfaction, and stronger decreases in women’s negative communication predicted a higher intercept of relationship satisfaction in women. Additionally, less steep decreases in women’s trajectories of negative communication predicted greater maintenance in women’s relationship satisfaction over time. Additionally, men’s self-efficacy beliefs about CoF predicted decreases in men’s negative communication, increases in women’s negative communication, and higher initial levels of women’s positive communication. The current study highlights the relevance of dynamic aspects of partners’ communication behaviors.

Abstract

Negative and positive conflict communication predicts long-term relationship satisfaction. However, some studies show harmful effects and others show beneficial effects of negative conflict communication on long-term relationship satisfaction. One reason for the heterogeneous results might be that most studies focused on aggregated behaviors across a conflict interaction but neglected the temporal dynamics within such an interaction. This study examined whether individual initial levels and temporal trajectories of negative and positive communications predict long-term relationship satisfaction, and whether self-efficacy beliefs about clarity of other’s feelings (CoF) alter initial levels and temporal trajectories of negative and positive communications. Negative and positive communications were measured based on sequentially coded conflict discussions of 365 couples; self-efficacy beliefs about CoF and relationship satisfaction were measured by self-report questionnaires at baseline and at four annual follow-up assessments. Results revealed that women’s initial positive communication predicted higher intercepts of both partners’ relationship satisfaction, and stronger decreases in women’s negative communication predicted a higher intercept of relationship satisfaction in women. Additionally, less steep decreases in women’s trajectories of negative communication predicted greater maintenance in women’s relationship satisfaction over time. Additionally, men’s self-efficacy beliefs about CoF predicted decreases in men’s negative communication, increases in women’s negative communication, and higher initial levels of women’s positive communication. The current study highlights the relevance of dynamic aspects of partners’ communication behaviors.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Sociology and Political Science, Communication, Developmental and Educational Psychology, Social Psychology DoktoratPsych Erstautor
Language:English
Date:25 October 2018
Deposited On:30 Oct 2018 16:01
Last Modified:28 Feb 2019 08:03
Publisher:Sage Publications Ltd.
ISSN:0265-4075
Additional Information:This research was not pre-registered. The data and materials used in the research are available upon request by emailing guy.bodenmann@uzh.ch. Accepted version of the manuscript. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the final, authoritative version of the article. Please do not copy or cite without authors permission. The final article is available via its doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407518806582
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407518806582
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDCRSI11_133004
  • : Project TitleImpact of Stress on Relationship Development of Couples and Children: A Longitudinal Approach on Dyadic Development Across the Lifespan
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDCRSII1_147634
  • : Project TitleImpact of Stress on Relationship Development of Couples and Children: A Longitudinal Approach on Dyadic Development Across the Lifespan

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