We Can Work It Out: Age Differences in Relational Pronouns, Physiology, and Behavior in Marital Conflict

Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-5050, USA.
Psychology and Aging (Impact Factor: 2.73). 10/2009; 24(3):604-13. DOI: 10.1037/a0016950
Source: PubMed


This study examined the relationship that personal pronouns spoken during a marital conversation have with the emotional qualities of those interactions and with marital satisfaction. Middle-aged and older couples (N = 154) engaged in a 15-min conflict conversation during which physiology and emotional behavior were continuously monitored. Verbatim transcripts of the conversations were coded into 2 lexical categories: (a) we-ness (we-words), pronouns that focus on the couple; (b) separateness (me/you-words), pronouns that focus on the individual spouses. Analyses revealed that greater we-ness was associated with a number of desirable qualities of the interaction (lower cardiovascular arousal, more positive and less negative emotional behavior), whereas greater separateness was associated with a less desirable profile (more negative emotional behavior, lower marital satisfaction). In terms of age differences, older couples used more we-ness words than did middle-aged couples. Further, the associations between separateness and marital satisfaction were strongest for older wives. These findings indicate that the emotional aspects of marital quality are expressed in the natural language of couples engaged in conversation.

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Available from: Gilad Hirschberger, Oct 01, 2015
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    • "The scripts were randomized. A composite score that combines all three physiological measures was computed (Seider et al., 2009). The composite score and the individual physiological measures were used as dependent variables in the data analyses. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study used psychophysiological measures to validate Chapman’s Five Love Languages theory. Physiological responses (skin conductance, heart rate, and respiration rate) were recorded while 89 participants listened to recorded guided imagery scripts that each represented one of the love languages (LL). Researchers were able to identify a primary LL for each participant. A composite score of the physiological responses indicated a significant increase in arousal for when participants listened to their primary LL.
    Eastern Psychological Association, Philadelphia, PA; 03/2015
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    • "Although age could be split in a number of different ways in this research, the oversample of individuals aged 60 provided a natural cut-point to differentiate older and younger adults. Using this age to demarcate the older and younger subsamples is also supported by research showing differences in marital relationships between individuals aged 60 and over and individuals under aged 60 (e.g., Charles et al. 2009; Seider et al. 2009). In addition, dividing the sample in this way is in line with multiple population studies of mental health (e.g., Kessler et al. 2003; Windsor and Butterworth 2010), which commonly use age 60 as the demarcation for older adults. "
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    ABSTRACT: This research examines how marital status modifies the relationship between functional limitations and two aspects of psychological distress—depression and anger. Analyses of a multiwave national probability survey show that marriage weakens the relationship between functional limitations and depression, but this moderation is specific to older men. Functional limitations are not significantly related to anger once time-stable confounds are comprehensively controlled, and this association does not differ by marital status. This research shows that marriage may benefit mental health by preventing the deleterious effects of chronic stressors, but marital status intersects with additional social statuses and a life course context in creating these modifying effects. In addition, research that does not consider both internalizing and externalizing mental health outcomes and comprehensively take time-stable confounds into account may present an incomplete depiction of the mental health consequences of stress and social arrangements.
    03/2012; 2(1):35-52. DOI:10.1177/2156869312442884
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    • "Beyond the question of change mechanisms, the present results are consistent with other text analysis research in confirming the adaptive significance of we-talk in couples , not only as a correlate of positive relationship attributes (Seider et al., 2009; Simmons et al., 2005; Slatcher & Pennebaker, 2006; Williams-Baucom et al., 2010) but also as a predictor of individual patient outcomes related to chronic illness (Rohrbaugh et al., 2008). Indeed, the distinction between couple-level and individual (patient) functioning as a dependent variable is probably important in this arena, as asymmetrical associations are more likely with the latter (where spouse behavior predicts patient outcomes more than vice versa) than the former (Rohrbaugh, Shoham, Cleary, Berman, & Ewy, 2009; Rohrbaugh et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: 目的:我们考察健康受损的吸烟者及其配偶使用第一人称复数代词的情况(我们–话语),以此作为适应性共同解决问题过程的一种可能的隐形标志。方法:其中一方心脏或肺部有问题,但一方或双方依然吸烟的20对夫妇参加多达10场专为改善共同应对而设计的家庭咨询(FAMCON)戒烟治疗,在治疗中,夫妇双方把吸烟定义为’我们的’问题,而不是’你的’或’我的’问题,并采取协作行动来解决问题。我们采用自动文本分析软件《语言获得和词汇计数》(LIWC)把治疗前婚姻互动任务及干预后期的文字本中夫妇双方第一人称代词的使用情况列表。结果:在相关和回归分析中,病人配偶(而非病人本人)在治疗前的我们—话语使用情况预测了病人在戒烟12个月后是否保持戒烟;夫妇双方在干预治疗期间(控制到基线水平)我们—话语使用情况的残余改变也预测了这个结果。结论:这些结果进一步证明了配偶使用我们—话语对病人健康的预测价值,并为共同应对作为一种可能的家庭咨询(FAMCON)变化机制提供初步证明。这些发现突显了自动文本分析在夫妇治疗研究中的效用。 Objetivo: Investigamos el uso del pronombre de la primera persona del plural (nosotros) en fumadores con problemas de salud y sus cónyuges como un posible marcador implícito de procesos comunes adaptativos y resolutorios de problemas. Métodos: Veinte parejas en las cuales uno o ambos integrantes fumaban a pesar de que uno de ellos sufría un problema cardiaco o pulmonar participaron en diez sesiones de una intervención para dejar de fumar mediante consulta familiar (FAMCON). Esta clase de consulta está diseñada para promover la lucha común, donde los cónyuges definen el hábito de fumar como “nuestro” problema, en lugar de ‘tu’ problema o ‘mi’ problema, y toman medidas cooperativas para resolverlo. Utilizamos el programa de análisis automático de textos llamado “Buscador Lingüístico y Contador de Palabras” (LIWC, por sus siglas en inglés) para contabilizar el uso del pronombre de la primera persona del plural por parte de ambos cónyuges basándonos en transcripciones de una tarea de interacción matrimonial previa al tratamiento y en sesiones de intervención posteriores. Resultados: En los análisis de correlación y regresión, el uso de la primera persona del plural por el cónyuge del paciente (pero no por el paciente) antes del tratamiento predijo si el paciente permanecería abstinente los doce meses posteriores a haber dejado de fumar, y el cambio residualizado en el uso de la primera persona del plural por parte de ambos cónyuges durante el transcurso de la intervención (al controlar los niveles basales) también predijo este resultado. Conclusiones: Los resultados contribuyen a la evidencia relativa al valor pronóstico del uso de la primera persona del plural por parte de los cónyuges para la salud del paciente y proporcionan documentación preliminar de la lucha común como un posible mecanismo de cambio de la consulta familiar. Juntos, estos resultados destacan la utilidad del análisis automático de textos en la investigación sobre intervenciones centradas en la pareja. We investigated first-person plural pronoun use (we-talk) by health-compromised smokers and their spouses as a possible implicit marker of adaptive, problem-resolving communal processes. Twenty couples in which one or both partners used tobacco despite one of them having a heart or lung problem participated in up to 10 sessions of a smoking cessation intervention designed to promote communal coping, where partners define smoking as “our” problem, rather than “your” problem or “my” problem, and take collaborative action to solve it. We used the Linguistic Inquiry Word Count automatic text analysis program to tabulate first-person pronoun use by both partners from transcripts of a pretreatment marital interaction task and later intervention sessions. Results indicated that pretreatment we-talk by the patient's spouse predicted whether the patient remained abstinent 12 months after quitting, and residualized change in we-talk by both partners during the course of intervention (controlling for baseline levels) predicted cessation outcomes as well. These findings add to evidence regarding the prognostic significance of partner we-talk for patient health and provide preliminary documentation of communal coping as a possible mechanism of change in couple-focused intervention.
    Family Process 03/2012; 51(1):107-21. DOI:10.1111/j.1545-5300.2012.01388.x · 1.73 Impact Factor
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