CFT 412 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Hypervigilance, Longitudinal Study, Heart Rate

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Class 10: May 2
In 1970’s systematic observation of couples started in Gottman lab
Psychology was having a difficult time establishing reliable
patterns in personality of one person
In series of studies Gottman developed new coding system based
upon observing couples
In 1986 built apartment lab in Un of WA (love lab)
14 year longitudinal study on heterosexual couples, and 12 year
study of gay and lesbian couples
Designed interventions (used worldwide by clinicians) to
utilize with couples and families
Intimacy Killers
Intimacy Killers
Harsh start-up
Conversations are initiated with criticism and/or sarcasm
Aare essentially doomed if they begin this way
If you begin a conversation this way, better to pause, take a breath
and return to try again
4 Horsemen
Criticism: global, negative words about character and personality
Contempt: sneering, name- calling, eye-rolling, mockery; worst at it
conveys disgust
Defensiveness: defending oneself about everything; “the problem
isn’t me, its you”
Stonewalling: one person tunes out, unresponsive, disengaged
Feeling so overwhelmed in such a sudden way that you feel “shell-
Feeling defenseless, becomes hypervigilant, becomes focused on
protecting yourself from partner’s turbulence
Body Language
Heart rate increase, increased secretion of adrenaline;
fight/flight/freeze response
Signifies severe emotional distress
Ability to reason, process, and think clearly are significantly
Failed Repair Attempts
Efforts couple make to de escalate tension, and put on the brakes so
that flooding is prevented
Unhappy (negative) feedback loop can develop between 4
horsemen and failed repair attempts
A couple can even show evidence of 4 horsemen, but be successful
find more resources at
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