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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    • "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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    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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