1. Emotions in Intimate and Social Relationships
o What is intimacy?
o Emotions that promote intimacy
o Negative emotions in social relationships
2. Emotions and moral behaviour
o Are emotions good or bad for moral behavior
o Predicting our behaviour in moral dilemmas
- Differences between intimate & non-intimate relationship?
- 6 domains to consider:
1. Knowledge: Secret-sharing, confidential information
2. Caring: Affection, motivated by affiliation
3. Interdependence: Strong, enduring impact on each other
4. Mutuality: “We” not “you and I”
5. Trust: “Etiquette” no longer applies
6. Commitment: presumed partnership, emotional & monetary investment follows that
Student Definitions of Intimacy
“Being understood while understanding the other’s emotions, thoughts or circumstances while passing
no judgment. A feeling of unconditional acceptance”
“Unconditional acceptance and forgiveness. Knowing that your other will always listen, understand and
“Feeling safe to talk about life problems that I would not be able to talk to anyone else about”
Emotions that Foster Intrimacy
- Playfulness couples who are playful with each other during arguments often have more
peaceful exchanges, and those who are more happy in their marriage often will tease each other
- Compassionate love compassion is not only important for couples, but for all types of social
o Ppl who report feeling higher degrees of compassion see more humanity with others,
are more generous and cooperative, and they punish others less.
o How do these findings relate to how compassion might be important in romantic
- Forgiveness important for relieving stress in relationships – lowers blood pressure
o Not only about simply forgetting what your partner has done, but actually realizing that
making mistakes is part of being human, and accepting this
Tsang, McCullough, & Finchman (2006) Study on Forgiveness
- Question: How do different facets of forgiveness predict relationship well-being?
- 201 participants who had incurred interpersonal hurt at least 18 days prior to study
- Participants completed the TRIM – Transgression Related Motivations Inventory
- Forgiveness Measures
o Avoidance of transgressor
o Motivation to seek revenge
o Benevolence (e.g., Even though her actions hurt me, I still have goodwill for her)
o 5 data collection time points: 1, 3, 5, 7,and 9 weeks after transgression
- Relationship Well-being Measures
o Relationship closeness (how close you are to the person that hurt you right now) and
commitment (how committed you are to the person that hurt you right now)
o 5 data collection data time points
o Lower levels of avoidance and revenge = higher levels of commitment and closeness
o Higher levels of benevolence = higher levels of commitment and closeness
Will You Be There For Me When Things Go Right?
Supportive Responses to Positive Event Disclosures
Gable, Gonzaga & Strachman (2006). In Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
- “For better or worse” … conventional focus on “for worse”
- Authors look at this in terms of “event disclosures”
- How does partner’s response to positive/negative disclosures pertain to intimacy and overall
o When romantic partners share in each other’s joy’s and express their enthusiasm for
each other’s successes, this predicts relationship satisfaction several months later
o Responses to negative events did not predict relationship well-being
The Current Study
- 79 dating couples, University of California
- Minimum 6 months together, 43% cohabitating
- 4 interactions
- Post hoc evaluations by the “discloser”
- Follow-up with couple in 2 months
- Each partner describes 1 positive and 1 negative event
- Each person is “discloser” and “responder” twice
- 4 critical interactions
- What type of events qualify?
o Individual experiences
o Past, present, future
The Post Hoc Evaluations
- “Discloser” evaluates “responder” after each interaction:
1. Reis’s (2003) Responsiveness scale o How understood, validated, cared for “discloser” felt
o Level of agreement with items such as:
‘My partner saw the “real me”…
‘My partner focused on the “best side” of me…
‘My partner valued my abilities and opinions…
- 2 months after study:
Relationship Quality Measures:
1. How good is your relationship compared to most?
2. Commitment level
3. Desire for Affection
= composite score computed Relationship Well-Being
- Outcome variable: Relationship Well-Being 2 months later
- Predictor 1: Responsiveness to negative event
- Predictor 2: Responsiveness to positive event
- Is relationship well-being predicted by the quality of feedback provided to you by your partner
when you described a positive and negative life event?
- Regression reveals different predictive models for men and women
Relationship well-being jointly accounted for by:
- Female partner’s responsiveness to description of positive and negative event
- Both positive predictors
Relationship well-being only predicted by
- Male partner’s responsiveness to woman’s description of positive event
Gable’s “For better or worse” study showed:
1. Important to tell partnere about good and bad events
2. Low responsiveness to good events is common yet particularly damaging
Segway to Next Study
Everyday wisdom suggests that commiserating builds intimacy in romantic relationships
Research emphasizes importance of recognizing successes
- What about negative emotions in non- romantic social contexts?
Positives of Negative Emotions?
Graham et al. (2008). In Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin
- Does the expression of negative emotions hurt or promote interpersonal relationships?
- Not just romantic relationships this time
- A series of studies
- Participants read vignettes where others were experiencing negative emotions: Blind Date vs.
Homesick IVs that might contribute to decision:
1. Emotion type (Anxiety, sadness) 2. Expression (yes, no)
Finding: Explicitly expressing anxiety or sadness promotes the desire to help!
- What about real-life not imagination?
- Actual helping vs. intention to help.
- Participants watched confederate giving a speech
o IV that might contribute:
o 1. Expression (yes, no)
Finding: Explicitly expressing anxiety promotes helping
- Before moving into dorm for 1 year
- Participants rate willingness to express negative emotions (anger specifically)
End of first semester:
- How many friends have you made?
- Quality of the intimacy of you closest friendships?
- Controlled for: Neuroticism, gender, self-esteem
- Regression analysis
Predictor: willingness to express negative emotion
Outcomes: # of friends, quality of intimacy
Key Finding 1: Willingness predicts quantity of social ties
Key Finding 2: Willingness predicts quality of intimacy
Conclusion: Expressing Negative Emotion has Positive Relationship Outcomes
It elicits social support
It promotes the establishment of new relationships
It heightens intimacy in close imagery
Fits Nicely with Student Definitions of Intimacy:
“Our relationship stands out because even though we get mad and argue with each other, we both still
know how much we need each other and depend on one another.
It’s like a rock that can’t break”
Not all Negative Emotions are Constructive
- Oatley mentions the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”
- Chapter 9, p. 237
- Negative behaviors damaging to marriages:
4. Contempt - People who continuously find faults in their partners have lower relationship satisfaction
- When partners react with defense to their relationship problems, this is problematic for
relationships – because it does not lead to conflict resolution
- The difference between anger and contempt contempt has a judgmental component and is
accompanied by eye-rolls and sneers
- Gottman and Levenson got couples to talk about their problems and coded their behaviour.
OF those couple who showed signs of these behaviours, about 93% were divorced 14 years
Anger on the Other Hand…
- Signals that a couple is comprise of two individuals
- Involves a commitment to seeing an argument through to some end
- Leads to mutual adjustment
- Four horsemen compared to anger
“The four toxic factors are unfair maneuvers that usurp the place of anger and resolution”
PART 2: Emotions and Moral Behavior
- At U of T, all grad students are required to give talks at our weekly brownbag, and in my first
year, I presented my proposal for some of the research I’ll talk about today. Wanting to impress
everyone, I decided to get the audience involved in my talk, and I showed them the following
picture. The Sick Kids hospital is a large pediatric hospital in Toronto, that does lots of great
work, but is also notorious for soliciting donations. So I asked the social faculty and grad
students to imagine they were approached for a donation, and I asked them to raise their hand
if they would donate.
- I expected that a large percentage would raise their hand, and then I would proceed to make
the point that, “although you think or say you would donate, you probably wouldn’t,