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Writing about emotional experiences is associated with a host of positive outcomes. This study extended the expressive-writing paradigm to the realm of romantic relationships to examine the social effects of writing. For 3 consecutive days, one person from each of 86 dating couples either wrote about his or her deepest thoughts and feelings about the relationship or wrote about his or her daily activities. In the days before and after writing, instant messages were collected from the couples. Participants who wrote about their relationship were significantly more likely to still be dating their romantic partners 3 months later. Linguistic analyses of the instant messages revealed that participants and their partners used significantly more positive and negative emotion words in the days following the expressive-writing manipulation if the participants had written about their relationship than if they had written about their daily activities. Increases in positive emotion words partially mediated the relation between expressive writing and relationship stability.
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Research Report
How Do I Love Thee? Let Me
Count the Words
The Social Effects of Expressive Writing
Richard B. Slatcher and James W. Pennebaker
The University of Texas at Austin
ABSTRACT—Writing about emotional experiences is asso-
ciated with a host of positive outcomes. This study ex-
tended the expressive-writing paradigm to the realm of
romantic relationships to examine the social effects of
writing. For 3 consecutive days, one person from each of
86 dating couples either wrote about his or her deepest
thoughts and feelings about the relationship or wrote
about his or her daily activities. In the days before and
after writing, instant messages were collected from the
couples. Participants who wrote about their relationship
were significantly more likely to still be dating their ro-
mantic partners 3 months later. Linguistic analyses of the
instant messages revealed that participants and their
partners used significantly more positive and negative
emotion words in the days following the expressive-writing
manipulation if the participants had written about their
relationship than if they had written about their daily
activities. Increases in positive emotion words partially
mediated the relation between expressive writing and re-
lationship stability.
Over the past two decades, multiple studies have demonstrated
the positive benefits of expressive writing in domains as diverse
as health, achievement, and well-being. Most of these studies
have used a relatively straightforward procedure in which par-
ticipants write about their deepest thoughts and feelings about a
particular topic for 20 min a day, 3 or 4 days in a row. The
findings indicate that expressive writing can result in fewer
doctor visits, fewer depressive symptoms, enhanced immune
system functioning, better grades, and a host of other positive
outcomes (for reviews, see Lepore & Smyth, 2002, and Smyth,
Researchers now are examining the social effects of expres-
sive writing, working from the assumption that confronting
conflicting or complex emotions or thoughts can facilitate social
interactions. The preliminary findings suggest that expressive
writing may be particularly beneficial for people in romantic
relationships. For example, when people write expressively
about recent relationship breakups, they are somewhat more
likely than control participants to reunite with their partners
(Lepore & Greenberg, 2002). Similarly, when married couples
recovering from infidelity write emotionally expressive letters to
each other, they experience reductions in depression, anger, and
marital distress (Gordon, Baucom, & Snyder, 2004). The social
effects of writing need not be limited to people recovering from a
relationship breakup or to those whose relationship is in dis-
tress. People in healthy and committed romantic relationships
also might benefit from expressive writing.
There are a number of ways in which one could measure the
effects of expressive writing on the functioning of relationships.
One way is to examine the impact of writing on relationship
stability. Results from the few studies examining the social ef-
fects of expressive writing indicate that it may enhance rela-
tionship stability among couples in distress (Gordon et al., 2004;
Lepore & Greenberg, 2002). Expressive writing could lead to
improved stability for individuals in normal, healthy relation-
ships as well.
Although previous studies have addressed the potential
benefits of expressive writing for couples, none have examined
the underlying mechanisms that might mediate writing’s effects
on relationship outcomes. One potential mediator is natural
language use (Pennebaker & Graybeal, 2001; Sillars, Shellen,
McIntosh, & Pomegranate, 1997). By measuring the words that
people use with others in their social worlds, researchers can
gain insight into the social changes that occur after expressive
writing. The use of emotion words may be particularly rele-
vant. Positive emotion words—such as happy and love—and
negative emotion words—such as angry and nervous—can
Address correspondence to Richard B. Slatcher, Department of
Psychology A8000, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
78712, e-mail:
660 Volume 17—Number 8Copyright r2006 Association for Psychological Science
reveal deeply felt emotions (Pennebaker, Mehl, & Niederhoffer,
2003; Twenge, Catanese, & Baumeister, 2003). Expressive
writing provides an opportunity for reflection, and, accordingly,
one would expect it to lead to increased emotional expressive-
ness with other people—reflected in increases in emotion words
during social interactions. Such increases in emotion words
might mediate higher-level changes in relationship functioning,
such as improvements in relationship stability.
There are various ways to measure the words that people use.
One technology—instant messaging (IM)—holds great promise.
For many people (53 million adults, including 30% of all In-
ternet users over the age of 40), IM is quickly replacing e-mail as
a preferred mode of on-line dyadic communication (Shiu &
Lenhart, 2004). Unlike e-mail, IM allows users to chat with each
other so that a conversation can unfold in much the same way
that spoken conversation does. The analysis of IM conversations
can allow researchers to examine the ebb and flow of people’s
natural language use.
In the present study, we sought to investigate the social effects
of expressive writing. Individuals in committed romantic rela-
tionships were randomly assigned either to write about their
deepest thoughts and feelings about their relationship or to write
about a superficial topic for 20 min a day, 3 days in a row. Three
predictions were tested. First, we predicted that those who wrote
about their relationship would be more likely to be dating their
partners 3 months after the experiment. Second, we predicted
that participants who wrote about their relationship would
change in the way in which they communicated with their
partners. Specifically, we expected those in this group to in-
crease their use of positive and negative emotion words in their
daily IM conversations. Finally, we predicted that changes in
use of emotion words would mediate the relation between ex-
pressive writing and relationship stability.
Eighty-six undergraduate psychology students (55 women, 31
men; mean age 518.7, SD 51.0) and their partners (31 women,
55 men; mean age 519.3, SD 51.6) were recruited on the basis
that they were in a committed heterosexual romantic relation-
ship and that they engaged in IM conversation with each other
every day. The couples had been dating an average of 1.31 years
(SD 51.06).
One member of each couple participated in the writing phase of
the study. An experimenter met with participants individually or
in small groups of 2 to 5 to give them an overview of the study.
They were told that its purpose was to quantify the types of words
that people use in writing and everyday interactions.
Participants were instructed to forward to a secure e-mail
address all daily IM conversations between themselves and their
partners during the 10 days of the study. Considerable effort was
taken during the introductory session to reassure participants
that their messages would be completely confidential.
Questionnaires assessing demographic information, rela-
tionship status, and relationship satisfaction were completed by
participants and their partners on-line from home on the first day
of the study. Satisfaction was measured using the Relationship
Assessment Scale (RAS; Hendrick, 1988). The RAS consists of
seven items, such as ‘‘In general, how satisfied are you with your
relationship?’’ Ratings are made on a 7-point Likert scale.
Participants were randomly assigned to the experimental (n5
44) or control (n542) writing condition and were instructed to
set aside 20 min per day on the fourth, fifth, and sixth days of the
study for completion of the on-line writing exercises. Partici-
pants in the experimental condition were instructed to write
about their deepest thoughts and feelings about their current
romantic relationship, ‘‘to really let go and explore your very
deepest emotions and thoughts about your relationship.’’ Those
in the control condition were instructed to write in detail about
their daily activities—a standard control condition for expres-
sive-writing studies. The purpose of the writing assignments was
left intentionally vague to reduce the possibility of demand
characteristics; participants were told that the writing assign-
ments would be used to assess basic word use.
Three months later, participants completed a brief on-line
questionnaire that assessed relationship status and satisfaction.
Linguistic Analysis
The IM conversations were analyzed using the Linguistic In-
quiry and Word Count program (LIWC; Pennebaker, Francis, &
Booth, 2001). All conversations from couples in both conditions
were spell-checked prior to being submitted to LIWC. They
were converted to text files, categorized by speaker (participant
or partner), and subcategorized according to whether they dated
from before or after the writing manipulation, resulting in a total
of four separate IM text files per couple.
Relationship Stability and Language Use
Expressive writing was significantly related to the long-term
stability of relationships, odds ratio 53.09, p
5.95, Cohen’s
d50.54. Thirty-four participants (77%) in the experimental
condition were still dating their partners at the 3-month follow-
up mark, compared with 22 participants (52%) in the control
condition. There were no significant differences in baseline
relationship satisfaction between the conditions (experimental
M56.21, SD 50.63; control M56.01, SD 50.66), nor was
condition related to satisfaction at the 3-month follow-up (ex-
perimental M55.87, SD 51.50; control M55.94, SD 50.94).
Volume 17—Number 8 661
Richard B. Slatcher and James W. Pennebaker
Note that the follow-up satisfaction measures are difficult to
interpret because they were available only for couples still in
their relationships.
Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM; Raudenbush & Bryk,
2002) was employed to analyze changes in use of emotion words
within couples’ IM conversations as a function of experimental
condition. Initial analyses focused on the effects of expressive
writing on positive emotion words in couples’ conversations.
Level 1 (individual-level) predictors were baseline use of pos-
itive emotion words and speaker (participant or partner). Only
baseline use of positive emotion words was a significant Level 1
predictor, b
5.51, p
>.99, d51.19. Level 2 (couple-level)
predictors were gender of the participant, experimental condi-
tion, and a Gender Condition interaction term. Only experi-
mental condition was a significant Level 2 predictor, g
5.93, d50.46. Couples in the expressive-writing condi-
tion were more likely than those in the control condition to in-
crease their use of positive emotion words with their romantic
partners in the days following the manipulation. Additionally,
participants and partners in the experimental condition in-
creased their use of positive emotion words at similar rates as
they communicated with each other via IM, even though only the
participants were involved in the expressive-writing manipu-
Next, the effect of expressive writing on negative emotion
words was analyzed. Level 1 predictors were baseline use of
negative emotion words, as well as the speaker variable. Only
baseline use of negative emotion words was a significant Level 1
predictor, b
5.28, p
5.98, d50.46. Level 2 predictors were
gender of the participant, experimental condition, and a Gender
Condition interaction term. Significant Level 2 predictors
were experimental condition, g
5.54, p
5.98, d50.64,
and the Gender Condition interaction, g
5.52, p
d50.61. Compared with control couples, couples in the ex-
pressive-writing condition were more likely to increase their
use of negative emotion words with their romantic partners in the
days following the writing manipulation. This effect was mod-
erated by the gender of the person in each couple who took part
in the writing manipulation. Specifically, couples in which the
male wrote about the relationship increased their use of negative
emotion words significantly compared with control couples,
whereas couples in which the female wrote about the relation-
ship did not change in their use of negative emotion words
compared with control couples.
Mediation Effects of Changes in Use of Emotion Words
A strength of this design is that it allowed us to explore the degree
to which measures of language may reflect the social psycho-
logical processes underlying the effects of expressive writing.
Two sets of mediation analyses were conducted—one with pos-
itive emotion words as the potential mediator, the other with
negative emotion words as the potential mediator. In both cases,
the outcome measure was relationship stability at the 3-month
follow-up. Means and standard deviations for couples’ use of
emotion words in their IM conversations are shown in Table 1.
Positive Emotion Words
Experimental condition and use of positive emotion words be-
fore and after the writing manipulation were entered in separate
steps into a logistic regression in which relationship stability
was the dependent variable. Higher levels of postwriting posi-
tive emotion words were associated with higher levels of couple
stability, odds ratio 53.04, p
5.99, d50.95. After con-
trolling for changes in positive emotion words, the effects of
experimental condition on relationship stability were no longer
significant, suggesting possible mediation. The results of a Sobel
ztest (Sobel, 1982) supported this analysis (z52.00, p
Thus, the salutary effects of writing about one’s relationship
were at least partially mediated by increases in use of positive
emotion words in daily IM conversations.
Negative Emotion Words
No relationship was found between increases in negative emo-
tion words and couple stability (p
<.50). This also was the
case in a separate analysis for just those couples in which the
male was the participant. The effects of expressive writing on
stability therefore were not mediated by changes in use of
negative emotion words.
The relatively simple act of writing about their romantic rela-
tionship changed the way in which participants communicated
Couples’ Use of Emotion Words in InstantMessages as a Function
of Time and Condition
Linguistic dimension
and condition
Before the
After the
Positive emotion words
Experimental condition 4.51 1.29 4.94 1.54
Control condition 4.39 1.42 4.31 1.36
Negative emotion words
Experimental condition 1.84 0.61 2.36 0.96
Control condition 1.91 0.82 1.97 0.93
Note. Experimental condition n544; control condition n542.
Exploratory analyses also were conducted on changes in use of first-
person plural pronouns (e.g., we,us,our); no significant effects were found.
Previous studies (e.g., Sillars et al., 1997; Wegner, 1982) have found positive
correlations between relationship functioning and use of we when participants
discussed their relationships with an interviewer. Note that this is a very different
context from closed interactions between the two members of a couple, during
which the use of we may not reflect intimacy between them (e.g., it may reflect
condescension, emotional distancing, or the referencing of someone close out-
side the relationship).
662 Volume 17—Number 8
Social Effects of Expressive Writing
with their partners in IM conversations; it also changed the way
in which the partners communicated with the participants and
improved relationship stability. Couples in the expressive-
writing condition were more likely to increase their use of pos-
itive emotion words than were couples in the control condition;
couples in the expressive-writing condition in which the male
was the participant increased in their use of negative emotion
words as well. Increases in positive emotion words partially
mediated the association between writing and relationship
Taken together, these findings shed light on processes un-
derlying interactions in close relationships. In particular, the
findings relating to increases in use of emotion words illuminate
previous research (e.g., Butler et al., 2003; Gottman & Leven-
son, 2000; Laurenceau, Barrett, & Pietromonaco, 1998) sug-
gesting that increased expression of positive emotions can result
in better outcomes for relationships. This study is one of the first
to go beyond self-reports to demonstrate that couples’ increased
emotional expressiveness may have the power to improve
objective relationship outcomes.
An advantage of the current design is that it allows one to
unobtrusively measure interpersonal processes underlying
dyadic interactions. By analyzing the words that couples use in
daily IM interactions, researchers can assess the extent to which
the couples’ language patterns are predictive of relationship
quality and stability. Given the growth in electronic communi-
cation in recent years, IM technology may serve as a promising
tool in examining real-time, on-line interactions in naturalistic
That people may enhance their romantic relationships by
simply writing down their thoughts and feelings about those
relationships has clear implications for clinicians. The use of
expressive writing as a tool for relationship enhancement could
be applied to a broad range of relationships, including those in
families, circles of friends, and even work groups. Expressive
writing may serve to strengthen the relational connections of a
broad array of social channels, particularly for persons who have
not had extensive experience expressing emotions to others.
There are some potential limitations of this study. First, it is
conceivable that the effects of writing on changes in word use
may have been partially affected by demand characteristics. We
believe that the emphasis on keeping the purpose of the study
vague to participants and the fact that writing also influenced
relationship stability make this an unlikely possibility. Second,
it is unknown whether it was the act of writing itself that led to
positive relationship outcomes, or whether simply directing
people to mentally attend to and explore relationship issues
would be equally beneficial; future studies should address this
Unlike previous expressive-writing studies, this is the first to
demonstrate some of the social processes that may underlie the
effects of expressive writing. Further, this study points to the
advantages gained in using current on-line technologies such as
IM for psychological research. Such technologies now allow
researchers to examine natural interactions in a relatively
simple, inexpensive, and straightforward manner.
Acknowledgments—Portions of this research were funded by a
grant from the National Institutes of Health (MH52391). We
would like to thank Greg Hixon, Amy Kaderka, and Girish
Tembe for their assistance on this project and Amie Green,
Timothy Loving, Matthew Newman, William Swann, and Simine
Vazire for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this
Butler, E.A., Egloff, B., Wilhelm, F.H., Smith, N.C., Erickson, E.A., &
Gross, J.J. (2003). The social consequences of expressive sup-
pression. Emotion,3, 48–67.
Gordon, K.C., Baucom, D.H., & Snyder, D.K. (2004). An integrative
intervention for promoting recovery from extramarital affairs.
Journal of Marital and Family Therapy,30, 213–231.
Gottman, J.M., & Levenson, R.W. (2000). The timing of divorce: Pre-
dicting when a couple will divorce over a 14-year period. Journal
of Marriage and the Family,62, 737–745.
Hendrick, S.S. (1988). A generic measure of relationship satisfaction.
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Laurenceau, J.-P., Barrett, L.F., & Pietromonaco, P.R. (1998). Intimacy
as an interpersonal process: The importance of self-disclosure,
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... In this research, aspects of people's word choice have been linked to important life outcomes such as marital satisfaction (Simmons, Gordon, & Chambles, 2005), relationship stability (Slatcher & Pennebaker, 2006), therapeutic success (Mergenthaler, 1996), depression (Rude, Gortner, & Pennebaker, 2004), suicidality (Stirman & Pennebaker, 2001), adjustment to cancer (Lieberman & Golstein, 2006), heart disease proneness (Scherwitz, Graham, & Ornish, 1985), and even longevity (Danner, Snowdon, & Friesen, 2001). Differences in word use have further been found to be indicatative of differences in cultural backgrounds (Maass, Karasawa, Politi, & Sayaka, 2006;Tsai, Simenova, & Watanabe, 2004), age (Pennebaker & Stone, 2003), and gender and sexual orientation (Groom & Pennebaker, 2005;Mulac & Lundell, 1994). ...
... Many important sources of natural language use, however, cannot be readily classified as private or public and fall somewhere in between on a private-public continuum. For example, it is currently a topic of scientific debate, to what degree different forms of computer-mediated communications such as emails (Baron, 1998), blogs , or instant messages (Slatcher & Pennebaker, 2006) are public or private in nature. Blogging websites, for instance, possess traditional (private) journaling features but are also used as (public) platforms for social sharing. ...
... Dyadic coping is usually assessed by self-reports and validated questionnaires: Perceptions of Collaboration Questionnaire (PCQ; Berg et al., 2008), Dyadic Coping Inventory (DCI; Bodenmann, 2008b), Empathic Responding Scale (ERS;O'Brien and DeLongis, 1996), Relationship Focused Coping Scale (RFCS; Coyne and Smith, 1991), or the use of we-talk (Slatcher and Pennebaker, 2006;Rohrbaugh et al., 2008;Tausczik and Pennebaker, 2010). Several studies are based on daily diaries (e.g., Kuhn et al., 2018;Leuchtmann et al., 2018;Lau et al., 2019;Xu et al., 2019) or coding of overt dyadic coping behavior (Dyadic Coping Coding System;Bodenmann, 2008a;Protective Buffering Observation Coding System;Langer et al., 2007). ...
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Dyadic coping (DC), how couples cope together to deal with a stressor like chronic illness, has received increased attention over the last three decades. The aim of the current study was to summarize the current state of research on DC in couples. We conducted a scoping review of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods studies published between 1990 and 2020, assessing DC in couples during three decades. 5,705 studies were identified in three electronic databases and hand searches. We included 643 sources in this review (with a total of N = 112,923 study participants). Most studies were based in the global North, particularly in the US and Europe. Publication numbers increased constantly over time. A third of study designs were cross-sectional studies followed by qualitative and longitudinal studies. The most prolific DC research areas were related to DC and minor stressors and DC and major physical health stressors. Overall, DC has been established internationally as a highly relevant construct in many disciplines (clinical, social, developmental, personality psychology, social work, nursing etc.). To conclude, the review reveals that future studies should focus on predictors, trajectories, and the importance of very specific DC behaviors for personal and dyadic functioning.
... The emotional benefits of expressive writing is well-established in the literature, although the focus often lies in writing about traumatic or emotionally charged experiences (Pennebaker, 2018). However, when dating couples expressively wrote about their relationships, the chance of being together 3 months later was significantly higher compared to couples who wrote about daily activities (Slatcher and Pennebaker, 2006). In addition, a recent study demonstrated that recalling three kind acts on 1 day revealed similar improvements on different well-being outcomes (e.g., positive and negative affect, lifesatisfaction) relative to performing three kind acts on 1 day or doing both (Ko et al., 2021). ...
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People with reduced levels of mental well-being might be at risk for developing future mental illness. Although several positive psychology interventions successfully improve mental well-being and psychological distress, less is known about their efficacy in a sample at risk for mental disorders. A Dutch sample of 289 participants with low or moderate levels of well-being were randomly assigned to other-focused kindness with reflection, other-focused kindness without reflection, self-focused kindness, or waitlist control (Trial register: NTR6786). Results of multilevel growth curve analyses revealed that other-focused kindness, but not self-focused kindness, led to improvements in the primary outcome mental well-being relative to waitlist control up to 6-week follow-up. By contrast, only other-focused kindness without reflection led to improvements in psychological distress. The three kindness conditions mainly did not differ from one another, and mainly no differences were found up to 6-months follow-up. An exception was that perceived stress was significantly more reduced up to 6-week and 6-months follow-up when people practiced other-focused kindness without reflection then when participants had practiced self-focused kindness. These findings point to the benefits of practicing kindness for others when people might be at risk for future mental illness. The study also indicates that reflecting about practicing kindness does not seem to have added value.
... This phenomenon occurs because third person narration allows the writer to feel safer and more detached from the experience, while first person perspective reminds them that they were the protagonist of the trauma. While writing using the third person can be easier in the wake of a traumatic event, writing in first person has been demonstrated to be more effective in the elaboration process (Slatcher & Pennebaker, 2006). ...
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Writing Therapy (WT) is defined as a process of investigation about personal thoughts and feelings using the act of writing as an instrument, with the aim of promoting self-healing and personal growth. WT has been integrated in specific psychotherapies with the aim of treating specific mental disorders (PTSD, depression, etc.). More recently, WT has been included in several Positive Interventions (PI) as a useful tool to promote psychological well-being. This narrative review was conducted by searching on scientific databases and analyzing essential studies, academic books and journal articles where writing therapy was applied. The aim of this review is to describe and summarize the use of WT across various psychotherapies, from the traditional applications as expressive writing, or guided autobiography, to the phenomenological-existential approach (Logotherapy) and, more recently, to the use of WT within Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Finally, the novel applications of writing techniques from a positive psychology perspective will be analyzed. Accordingly, the applications of WT for promoting forgiveness, gratitude, wisdom and other positive dimensions will be illustrated. The results of this review show that WT yield therapeutic effects on symptoms and distress, but it also promotes psychological well-being. The use of writing can be a standalone treatment or it can be easily integrated as supplement in other therapeutic approaches. This review might help clinician and counsellors to apply the simple instrument of writing to promote insight, healing and well-being in clients, according to their specific clinical needs and therapeutic goals.
... A more coherent narrative, in turn, should be easier to share. Accordingly, the social effects of expressive writing have been reported testing the assumption that expressive writing provides a "preprocessing" that improves communication and social exchange in romantic couples after challenging experiences (Lepore and Greenberg, 2002;Slatcher and Pennebaker, 2006;Baddeley and Pennebaker, 2011;Finkel et al., 2013). To conclude, solitary written disclosure is supposed to reduce rumination. ...
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Background: Retirement is a central transition in late adulthood and requires adjustment. These processes not only affect the retired individuals but also their romantic partners. The aim of this study is to investigate the interplay of intrapersonal emotion regulation (rumination) with interpersonal regulation processes (disclosure quality). Furthermore, the associations of daily retirement-related disclosure with adjustment symptoms in disclosing and the listening partner will be investigated. It is expected that the effects of disclosure alter after providing the couples with a self-applied solitary written disclosure task in order to support their intrapersonal emotion regulation. Methods: In this dyadic online-diary study, 45 couples ( N = 45) with one partner perceiving the adjustment to a recent retirement as challenging reported rumination, perceived disclosure quality (repetitive, focused on negative content, hard to follow, disclosing partner open for common/authentic), retirement-related disclosure, and ICD-11 adjustment symptoms preoccupation and failure to adapt were assessed at the end of the day over 14 days. In the middle of this assessment period, couples performed a modified online-expressive writing about their thoughts and feelings regarding the transition to retirement. Results: The double-intercept multilevel Actor–Partner Interdependence Models (APIM) reveal that on days with more daily rumination, the spouse perceived that disclosure of the retiree is more difficult to follow, more negative, and repetitive. In contrast, the retiree perceived less authenticity and openness to comments during disclosure on days when the spouse reports more rumination. Retirement-related disclosure showed no within-couple association with failure to adapt but actor effects on preoccupation. Moreover, a partner effect of disclosure of the retirees on the preoccupation of spouses could be observed. This contagious effect of the retiree disclosure, however, disappeared during the week after writing. Conclusion: Our results support the notion that disclosure processes are altered during maladaptive intrapersonal emotion regulation processes. This in turn seems to lead to less effective interpersonal regulation and contagious spilling over of symptoms. Supporting intrapersonal emotion regulation seems to have the potential to allow more favorable interpersonal regulation processes and to free interpersonal resources for an individual adjustment. This has implications for further planning of support for couples facing life transitions and aging-related changes.
... • Explore expressive writing interventions focused on R/S meaning making, such as writing a journal, prayers, songs, or a lament. Expressive writing has been associated with mental and physical benefits, including improved lung function and immune system, lowered psychological distress, improved social relationships, and adaptation of more positive emotional vocabulary (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005;Lepore & Smyth, 2002;Lowe, 2006;Slatcher & Pennebaker, 2006). • Encourage clients to reflect on a season in which their faith helped them endure adversity. ...
Traumatic events, such as natural disasters, often lead to significant resource loss for survivors, which can negatively affect emotional well-being. In these situations, it is common for people to draw on their religious or spiritual faith to cope with their pain and struggle. One construct that has received increased attention within the field of religious/spiritual coping is spiritual fortitude (SF). SF refers to one’s ability to draw on spiritual resources to transcend negative emotions in the face of stressors (Van Tongeren et al., 2019). In this review, we analyze eight empirical studies with 3,455 total participants. Specifically, we explore the relationship between SF and mental health and well-being, with a particular focus on its role in traumatic contexts (e.g., natural disasters). SF has been found to demonstrate a series of positive mental health benefits including higher meaning in life, spiritual well-being, positive religious coping, and perceived posttraumatic growth. We discuss areas for future research and implications for clinical practice, with specific consideration to coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)
Background and objectives Loneliness is an important factor in mental and physical health. People with social anxiety disorder (SAD) often report high levels of loneliness, which may be maintained by difficulties with intimacy. Building Closer Friendships (BCF) is a technology-based intervention we developed to reduce loneliness through reducing fear of intimacy in individuals with SAD. Methods A sample of individuals with current SAD (N = 55), were randomized to BCF or waitlist control conditions and completed self-report assessments of loneliness, fear of intimacy, social anxiety and other outcomes throughout the study. An in vivo conversation task was also administered at post-treatment to assess distress and perceived disclosure, warmth, and friendliness of participants when interacting with a stranger. Results In the intent-to-treat analyses, the BCF group reported lower fear of intimacy at post-treatment compared to the control group. Among completers, BCF led to lower fear of intimacy at post-treatment and follow-up, and lower loneliness and depression at follow-up compared to the waitlist control. No treatment effects were found in the conversation task or for other symptom outcomes, including social anxiety. Analyses of treatment components revealed that the frequency of emotional check-ins with friends was associated with reductions in loneliness and depression. Limitations The study was limited by the sample of primarily undergraduate college students, and use of self-report measures. Conclusions This preliminary study found modest support for BCF as a computerized intervention to reduce fear of intimacy and loneliness in individuals with SAD.
This experiment examined how two language features-linguistic agency and assignment of causality-of online support-seekers' messages regarding depression influenced viewers' perceived stigma and features of their support messages. Participants (N = 254) read and responded to an online support-seeking post about depression. Our results revealed that personal stigma toward a depressed individual was lower when the individual disclosed a biological cause for the depression and assigned agency to depression than agency to human. Additionally, when agency was assigned to depression with a biological rather than non-biological cause, more positive emotion words were utilized in participants' response posts. Cognitive process words were used more often in response to messages with non-biological causality than biological causality.
Psychedelic science has generated hundreds of compelling published studies yet with relatively little impact on mainstream psychology. I propose that social psychologists have much to gain by incorporating psychoactive substances into their research programs. Here I use (±)-3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) as an example because of its documented ability in experiments and clinical trials to promote bonding, love, and warmth. Social connection is a fundamental human need, yet researchers still possess few tools to effectively and durably boost it. MDMA allows investigators to isolate the psychological mechanisms—as well as brain pathways—underlying felt social connection and thus reveal what should be targeted in future (nondrug) studies. Accordingly, I introduce a conceptual model that presents the proximal psychological mechanisms stimulated by MDMA (lowered fear, increased sociability, more chemistry), as well as its potential long-term impacts (improved relationships, reduced loneliness, stronger therapeutic alliances). Finally, I discuss further questions (e.g., whether using MDMA for enhancing connection can backfire) and promising research areas for building a new science of psychedelic social psychology. In sum, psychopharmacological methods can be a useful approach to illuminate commonly studied social-psychological processes, such as connectedness, prejudice, or self, as well as inform interventions to directly improve people’s lives.
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Melody and lyrics, reflecting two unique human cognitive abilities, are usually combined in music to convey emotions. Although psychologists and computer scientists have made considerable progress in revealing the association between musical structure and the perceived emotions of music, the features of lyrics are relatively less discussed. Using linguistic inquiry and word count (LIWC) technology to extract lyric features in 2,372 Chinese songs, this study investigated the effects of LIWC-based lyric features on the perceived arousal and valence of music. First, correlation analysis shows that, for example, the perceived arousal of music was positively correlated with the total number of lyric words and the mean number of words per sentence and was negatively correlated with the proportion of words related to the past and insight. The perceived valence of music was negatively correlated with the proportion of negative emotion words. Second, we used audio and lyric features as inputs to construct music emotion recognition (MER) models. The performance of random forest regressions reveals that, for the recognition models of perceived valence, adding lyric features can significantly improve the prediction effect of the model using audio features only; for the recognition models of perceived arousal, lyric features are almost useless. Finally, by calculating the feature importance to interpret the MER models, we observed that the audio features played a decisive role in the recognition models of both perceived arousal and perceived valence. Unlike the uselessness of the lyric features in the arousal recognition model, several lyric features, such as the usage frequency of words related to sadness, positive emotions, and tentativeness, played important roles in the valence recognition model.
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Seventy-two male and 73 female undergraduates were randomly assigned to an experimental group, in which they wrote expressively about a relationship breakup, or to a control group, in which they wrote in a non-emotional manner about impersonal relationship topics. Control participants reported short-term increases in upper respiratory illness (URI) symptoms, tension and fatigue, whereas experimental participants did not. Further, higher levels of intrusive thoughts and avoidance were associated with short-term increases in URI symptoms in the control group, but were unrelated to URI symptoms in the experimental group. Finally, there was a trend (p Keywords: Avoidance; Emotional expression; Expressive writing; Intrusive thoughts; Social adjustment; Upper respiratory illness Document Type: Research Article DOI: Affiliations: 1: Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College, Columbia University, Thorndike Hall, Box 114, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027, USA 2: Clinical Psychology, Alliant International University, 10455 Pomerado Rd., San Diego, CA 92131, USA Publication date: January 1, 2002 $(document).ready(function() { var shortdescription = $(".originaldescription").text().replace(/\\&/g, '&').replace(/\\, '<').replace(/\\>/g, '>').replace(/\\t/g, ' ').replace(/\\n/g, ''); if (shortdescription.length > 350){ shortdescription = "" + shortdescription.substring(0,250) + "... more"; } $(".descriptionitem").prepend(shortdescription); $(".shortdescription a").click(function() { $(".shortdescription").hide(); $(".originaldescription").slideDown(); return false; }); }); Related content In this: publication By this: publisher In this Subject: Psychology By this author: Lepore, Stephen J. ; Greenberg, Melanie A. GA_googleFillSlot("Horizontal_banner_bottom");
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Our research considered how the language used in marital conversations reflects the nature and definition of close relationships. Two linguistic themes with broad relational implications were identified from previous work: (a) linguistic elaboration, and (b) personal reference. These features were assumed to reflect, respectively, the efficiency of communication and the degree of differentiation versus integration of identities in marriage. In order to test the presumed relational implications of language, we compared indicators of linguistic elaboration and personal reference with relationship characteristics, including marital type, satisfaction, and age. One hundred‐twenty conversations from three prior studies were coded for a number of linguistic and pragmatic features. The results did not support expected associations between elaboration and other relationship characteristics. However, the research mostly supported the presumed relational implications of personal reference. Traditional, satisfied, and older marriages were distinguished by a focus on joint versus individual identity, as reflected in pronoun usage (i.e., “we” versus “I/you” pronouns), cross‐referencing of language, and “confirmation” versus “interpretation” statements.
When people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings about an emotionally significant event, numerous benefits in many domains (e.g., health, achievement, and well-being) result. As one step in understanding how writing achieves these effects, we have developed a computer program that provides a “fingerprint” of the words people use in writing or in natural settings. Analyses of text samples indicate that particular patterns of word use predict health and also reflect personality styles. We have also discovered that language use in the laboratory writing paradigm is associated with changes in social interactions and language use in the real world. The implications for using computer-based text analysis programs in the development of psychological theory are discussed.
The variety of interpersonal relationships in contemporary society necessitates the development of brief, reliable measures of satisfaction that are applicable to many types of close relationships. This article describes the development of such a measure. In Study I, the 7-item Relationship Assessment Scale (RAS) was administered to 125 subjects who reported themselves to be "in love." Analyses revealed a unifactorial scale structure, substantial factor loadings, and moderate intercorrelations among the items. The scale correlated significantly with measures of love, sexual attitudes, self-disclosure, commitment, and investment in a relationship. In Study II, the scale was administered to 57 couples in ongoing relationships. Analyses supported a single factor, alpha reliability of .86, and correlations with relevant relationship measures. The scale correlated .80 with a longer criterion measure, the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (Spanier, 1976), and both scales were effective (with a subsample) in discriminating couples who stayed together from couples who broke up. The RAS is a brief, psychometrically sound, generic measure of relationship satisfaction.