Class Notes (1,100,000)
CA (630,000)
Western (60,000)
PSYCH (7,000)
Lecture 15

Psychology 2075 Lecture Notes - Lecture 15: Sex Therapy, Omen, Outstrip

Course Code
PSYCH 2075
Chris Roney

This preview shows pages 1-3. to view the full 11 pages of the document.
Psych 2075: Jan 21, 2015
Lecture 14
Dealing with Problems: Communication
I. Different ways of dealing with relationship problems
-Rusbult and Zembrodt (1993)
-basically Carol Rusbult’s model
-in her model there are two dimensions important to determining how people will react
when hitting a bump in the relationship
1. optimistic/pessimistic: do you think you will maintain the relationship despite the
bump, or do you see the bump as the beginning of it falling apart
2. whether you respond to problems actively or passively—do you take charge and
say we have to fix this, or are you more passive and say let’s just see what
-you might be an optimistic person but if a certain problem keeps coming back in the
relationship you might become pessimistic in that situation
-in Rusbult’s model she argues the combination of these variables give you four styles
-on the active side: if you’re an active pessimist, then you’ll leave (Exit); if active
optimist (voice) then will work on improvement to try and fix the problems and try to
overcome them
-on the passive side: optimistic and passive (loyalty)—you will ride it out and wait for
things to get better; if passive and pessimistic (neglect) you will just wait for your partner
to break up with you
-it’s apparent that if the relationship is worth investing in, the optimistic is usually better
than pessimistic (but it does depend on the situation)
-Rusbult argues in favour of voice being the best way to deal with relationship problems
-Voice makes sense, the problem is (and this is where communication comes in) lots of times
relationships blow themselves up, starting with the idea that you’re just trying to improve things
—this is where communication is important
-how you do it matters immensely
-communication styles have been shown to be one of the most important predictors of
how a relationship will go
-so in your mind you might be doing the right thing, but if you don’t communicate it in
the right way you can cause serious damage to the relationship
II. Problematic Communication Styles
-Gottman is considered the classic study for looking at communication styles in relationships
-Gottman (1994)
-his methodology is kind of simple in a way—he would bring couples into the lab, have
them sit down, and would ask them to spend 15-20 minutes talking about some things
you see as issues in the relationship, and the conversation would be videotaped
-then they have coders looking carefully at the nature of the two people
-can look at how positive/negative overall the conversation is (code for number of
positive and negative statements for example)

Only pages 1-3 are available for preview. Some parts have been intentionally blurred.

-discovered that negative comments tend to cluster, and by end of the conversation the
conversation is much more negative than when they started—when one person feels hurt
they lash out and it ends up spiralling
-Gottman couple’s interactions, 1983:
-they contacted the couples again four years later and asked how the relationship was
-asked: have they considered leaving, or have they actually separated in the four years
since the study
-for mostly positive: 33% had considered leaving, and 17% had left their partner
-for mostly negative, basically the risk of problems doubles: 71% have considered
leaving, and 36% have separated
-so communication is incredibly important and one of the single best predictors of a
relationship lasting through bad spots are these communication patterns
-there are some issues to consider with the study, for instance maybe the ones who had the bad
pattern, those relationships were already worse
-Gottman’s work in totality is pretty convincing that communication is a major part of the
-when hitting rocky bits, the negative communication is what blows it up and moves the
relationship to a point of no return
-they coded the 15 minute segments in more detail as well
-when they looked at specific aspects of the relationships they found four features that
tended to come one before the other—a cascade of negative communication of factors
(they called it the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) and they say these four are a really
bad sign and characteristic of relationships that don’t survive
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (a negative cascade in marital interaction)
-complain/criticize: if going back to Rusbult, this would be voice—something is going well and
I want to express that
-this can be the beginning of a negative process if you aren’t careful about it
-how you do it is really important, but also how often you do it; in Gottman they
found someone who is constantly complaining can kick off this cascade
-contempt: interacting with your partner in a way that expresses contempt (being sarcastic,
negative comments about the person, etc.)
-this is one of the really strong predictors of a relationship that’s in trouble
-in the analysis Gottman argues there are two components to contempt
1. It tends to be personal, like saying something about the person’s personality (for
example saying they are a pig, instead of saying I don’t like that you leave your
underwear on the TV),
-couples where you see this happening often are in that 40% that breakup
2. This may not be explicit, but implicit is a position of superiority of the person
expressing the statement (so if you say to them you’re such a pig, it implies that
you think you are better than them when it comes to that issue)
-what predicts this? Some of it might be a bit personality, the person might
think they are saying it as a joke, but the person they are saying it to might
take it as contemptuous

Only pages 1-3 are available for preview. Some parts have been intentionally blurred.

-another case is over time if people get frustrated, then you will sometimes
see people come to the contempt faze as well
-so the important thing is to think about what you’re saying—if you don’t
intend it to be contemptuous, then be careful how you are saying it
-defensive: you’re not dealing with what’s being said, you’re deflecting it (example, yes, but it’s
not my fault)
-if somebody’s being contemptuous, it’s almost natural to deflect what they are saying, so
there you get into a problem where you aren’t fixing the problem, you’re just hurting
each other
-sometimes this can be a style that people get to fairly quickly whenever an issue is
brought up (depends on personality a bit)
-low self-esteem in one of the people in the relationship can be problematic because
someone with low self-esteem is more likely to slip into being defensive, even in cases
where 99% of the population would say it really isn’t that hurtful for example
-stonewall: means you don’t even attend to the other person, you just tune them out, not even
acknowledging that person anymore
-in those 15 minute segments if there was any evidence of stonewalling, the relationship
had a high probability of not surviving
-so the two big ones that really predict relationships on the rocks were contempt and stonewall
-in some of the studies these were married couples, so we have to assume that these patterns
developed over time and weren’t there right from the beginning
III. Sex differences in communication style
-in Gottman’s research they did find a couple of sex differences
-women are slightly more likely than men to do the criticize/ complain
-of the people seen stonewalling, 85% of them were male
-there was a paper that looked at sex difference, gender and gender typing
-Swann et al (2003) did three large sample studies on the internet from people all over the world
-looked at communication style in terms of being inhibited (don’t tend to speak what’s
on your mind) or disinhibited (when something bothers you, you say it)
-in the three studies, they looked at a variety of measures of how well the relationship is
doing (looking at heterosexual relationships), and looked at the makeup of two
disinhibited people together, two inhibited, or inhibited plus disinhibited and what
predicts relationships that seem to be happier
-disinhibited woman plus inhibited man was the one group that showed strikingly low
levels of satisfaction in the relationship so gender clearly figures into it
-with disinhibited man plus inhibited woman, they’re exactly as happy as the ones who
are matched (disinhibit together or inhibit together)
-so gender expectations seem to play a huge role—a woman being assertive and a guy
who isn’t is the one thing that seemed to predict unhappy relationships
-if guys expect to be the assertive one that fixes the problem but instead the woman is
being assertive, that plays into gender roles and seems to be a bit of a predictor
IV) Socioeconomic status and relationship problems
-important to consider the context of your problem
You're Reading a Preview

Unlock to view full version