The Interpersonal Process Model of Demand/Withdraw Behavior.

Brian R. Baucom, Janna A. Dickenson, David C. Atkins, Donald H. Baucom, Melanie S. Fischer, Sarah Weusthoff, Kurt Hahlweg, Tanja Zimmermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The demand/withdraw interaction pattern is a destructive cycle of relationship communication behavior that is associated with negative individual and relationship outcomes. Demand/withdraw behavior is thought to be strongly linked to partners' emotional reactions, but current theories are inconsistent with empirical findings. The current study proposes the interpersonal process model of demand/withdraw behavior, which includes linkages between each partners' emotional reactions and the interpersonal behavior of demanding and withdrawing. Data come from problem solving discussions of 55 German couples with observationally coded demand/withdraw behavior and fundamental frequency (f0) to measure vocally encoded emotional arousal. Actor-partner interdependence models (Kenny, Kashy, & Cook, 2006) were used to examine associations among demand/withdraw behavior and f0 in the overall discussion and 5-min segments. Significant cross-partner associations emerged for demanding and withdrawing behavior across the whole conversation as well as within 5-min segments, and these associations are partially accounted for by each individual's f0. When behaviorally coded demanders expressed more vocal arousal, they demanded more and withdrew less while their partners withdrew more. In contrast, when behaviorally coded withdrawers expressed more vocal arousal, their partners demanded less and withdrew more. Findings demonstrate that demand/withdraw behavior varies between couples (i.e., some couples engage in a stronger demand/withdraw cycle than others) and between segments (i.e., when 1 partner increases demanding, the other increases withdrawing). Findings support key elements of the interpersonal process model, showing intra- and interpersonal pathways linking demand/withdraw behavior and emotion and demonstrate the importance of partners' behavioral roles in these linkages.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-90
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • INTERPERSONAL relations research
  • WITHDRAWAL (Psychology)
  • INTERPERSONAL communication research
  • EMOTIONS (Psychology)
  • STRUCTURAL equation modeling
  • demand/withdraw behavior
  • emotion
  • multilevel structural equation model

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