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Lecture 10

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Lecture 10: Relationship Dissolution Timing of Breakups  Breakups are more likely to occur at certain times of the year, such as Valentine’s Day (Morse & Neuberg, 2004), when romantic relationships are more salient Perceived risk of breaking up  people in new relationships are generally overly optimistic about how long their relationship will last (Buehler, Griffin, & Ross, 1995)  most people believe that their own marriages will last a lifetime, even when they are aware of high divorce rates (e.g., Baker & Emery, 1993) Who best predicts breakup?  friends’ and parents’ survival estimates more accurate than own  own perceptions of quality predicts better than friends’ and parents’  best predictor is the woman’s friends’ perception of commitment (Agnew et al., 2001) and survival estimates (Loving, 2006) disclose more to friends, share more intimate information, attend more to relational information  less likely to censor relationship-relevant information during disclosure Non-Marital Breakups Versus Divorce  These are often lumped together, but they probably shouldn’t be – have diff predictors  The decision to divorce is quite different because: it’s reversing a decision that’s already been made and it generally has greater ramifications (assets, possibly children, etc.) Top Five Predictors of Non-Marital Breakups (Le et al. 2010)  ↓ Positive Illusions, Commitment, Love (feelings toward your partner), Closeness (self- other overlap) and Dependence (feeling reliant on your partner) Predictors of Divorce: Individual Factors  youth, older age, & age gap, low SES, race, religion  divorced parents, divorcee, child before marriage, step-children, cohabitation, neuroticism & negative attributions, for women related to low intimacy in college Dyadic and Network Factors  dyadic factors = low positive affect, high expressed negative affect, negative affect reciprocity  network factors = family & friend disapproval, low overlap Gottman’s Divorce Predictions(Gottman & Levenson, 2004)  Observed couples interact in the lab, then tracked them over time  Negative affect  early divorce (within 7 years) Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling (withdrawal)  Lack of positive affect  later divorce (within 14 years)  Overall model predicted divorce with 93% accuracy The Script of Breaking Up(Battaglia et al., 1998)  Cyclical pattern that couples go through to break up = Lack of interest, Notice other people, Act distant, Try to work things out, More distance/avoidance, Lack of interest, Consider breakup, Communicate feelings, Try to work it out, Notice other people, Act distance, Date other people, Back together, Consider break up, Move on/recover, Break up When couples can’t decide (Dailey et al., 2009; 2012)  Nearly 2/3 of people have experienced an on-again/off-again relationship at some point  40% of current relationships have been “on/off” in the past  Such relationships tend to cycle repeatedly (on average, breaking up and getting back together 2 or more times)  Characterized by: More uncertainty, Less positivity, Less satisfaction, Less love  Get back together because: Lingering attachment, Belief that the time apart has improved them (better communication skills, etc.), so hope for the next time around  also Dissatisfaction with alternatives (grass on the other side isn’t actually greener) Breaking Up (Vangelisti, 2006)  dissolution strategies = positive tone, negative identity management, justification, behavioural de-escalation, manipulatory strategies  higher intimacy and overlap of social network predict more positive tone, justification and de-escalation Not Breaking Up (when you should) (Slotter & Finkel, 2009)  anxiously attached individuals: believe they are unworthy of being in a satisfying relationship experience strong fears of abandonment, even when relationship is dissatisfying consequently, remain committed to unfulfilling relationships  also true of those primed with anxious attachment (unhappy married ppl more likely to be anxiously attached) Reactions to dissolution  divorce lower well-being, loneliness, social isolation, health problems, economic hardships  dissolution predicts major depressive disorder in adolescent relationships acceptance related to mental health  more post-breakup distress if: less secure attachment style or lower self-esteem, breakup perceived as uncontrollable, breakup attributed to partner or external factors, see lower quality of alternatives Addicted to an Ex-partner (Fisher et al., 2010)  fMRI scans while looking at photo of ex-partner and familiar other  when looking at ex, reported feelings of love, but also agitation, anger, and despair  activation in areas of the brain associated
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