Nonverbal communication and marital adjustment and satisfaction: The role of decoding relationship relevant and relationship irrelevant affect

Ascan Koerner, Mary Anne Fitzpatrick

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Abstract

The present study investigates the relationship between nonverbal encoding and decoding of positive and negative affect attributed to relational and nonrelational factors and spouses' marital adjustment. Findings indicate that accuracy in decoding of nonverbal affect was associated with the partner's, but not one's own, marital satisfaction. In regard to specific relational and nonrelational affect, results showed that accurate decoding of relational positive affect and of nonrelational negative affect was associated with the decoder's marital satisfaction, while accurate decoding of relational positive affect was associated with the partner's dissatisfaction. In regard to nonverbal communication and sex differences, we found that husbands' decoding of wives' nonrelational affect was more predictive of marital satisfaction than wives' decoding of husbands' nonrelational affect. Overall, however, we did not find many of the sex differences in nonverbal communication reported in previous studies. Implications of these findings for our current understanding of nonverbal communication in marriages are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-51
Number of pages19
JournalCommunication Monographs
Volume69
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002

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non-verbal communication
satisfaction
Decoding
Nonverbal communication
Communication
husband
wife
adaptation
Marital satisfaction
Sex differences
Wives
Positive affect
spouse
marriage
Encoding
Marriage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics

Cite this

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