Regulating Partners in Intimate Relationships: The Costs and Benefits of Different Communication Strategies

Nickola C. Overall, Garth J.O. Fletcher, Jeffry A. Simpson, Chris G. Sibley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study tested the success of communication strategies used by relationship partners (N = 61 romantic couples) who were videotaped while trying to produce desired changes in each other. Strategies varying in valence (positive vs. negative) and directness (direct vs. indirect) were differentially associated with postdiscussion perceptions of success as well as ratings of demonstrated change in targeted features gathered at 3-month intervals during the following year. Direct strategies (positive and negative) were initially perceived as relatively unsuccessful but predicted increased change over the next 12 months as reported by the targeted partners and (for positive-direct strategies) as perceived by female agents. Positive-indirect strategies, in contrast, were associated with higher concurrent perceived success but did not predict later change. Increases in problem severity also forecasted lower relationship quality over time. These findings indicate that one mechanism through which regulation strategies impact relationship outcomes is the extent to which engaged strategies are successful at producing desired change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)620-639
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume96
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009

Keywords

  • communication strategies
  • conflict behavior
  • regulation
  • relationship change

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