But there's another way that depression isolates partners from each other. It chips away at the ability to perceive the others' thoughts and feelings. It impairs what psychologists call "empathic accuracy" —and that can exacerbate alienation, depression, and the cycle by which they feed each other.
Three Israeli researchers—Reuma Gadassi and Nilly Mor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Eshkol Rafaeli at Bar-Ilan University—wanted to understand better these dynamics in relationships, particularly the role of gender. Their study will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
The study revealed a surprising dynamic: "It's called the partner effect," said Gadassi, a psychology graduate student. She explained: "Women's depression affects their own accuracy. But it also affected their partner's accuracy"—in both cases, negatively.
Fifty heterosexual couples—some married, some cohabiting, and together an average of about five years—participated in the study. First, a questionnaire assessed their levels of depression. Then, their interpersonal perceptions were tested both in the lab and in daily life.
In the lab, the couples were videotaped during a 12-minute conversation in which one sought help from the other. Halfway through, they switched roles: the help-requester became the helper. Afterwards, the individuals watched the tapes and wrote about their own thoughts and feelings and their partners'. The reports were assessed for similarities and differences between each person perceptions and the other's self-descriptions.
In the second portion, the participants made once-a-day diary entries for 21 days, rating a list of negative and positive moods and feelings about the relationship, both their own and their partner's, on a five-point scale. These entries were also assessed for "empathic accuracy."
From both tests, the researchers found that the more depressed the woman was, the less accurately she inferred her partner's feelings. In the daily-life portion, the specificity of depression's effect to negative (vs. positive) feelings was revealed. Men's own depression did not affect their empathic accuracy—though that is not to suggest that his blues would have no impact on the relationship, just "a different one," says Gadassi.
It was in the daily diaries that the most surprising finding emerged: When women were depressed and their sensitivities dulled, their partners also became less empathic. When women are depressed, the relationship suffers more. After all, mutual understanding is the bedrock of intimacy.
The study has important implications, says Gadassi. It tells us "you can't understand depression without taking account of gender." The findings should inform treatment. "Bringing only the depressed woman into therapy is not enough," she says. "You really have to have both partners in the room."
For more information about this study, please contact Reuma Gadassi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "Depression and empathic accuracy within couples: An interpersonal model of gender differences in depression" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Tiffany Harrington at 202-293-9300 or email@example.com.
Tiffany Harrington | EurekAlert!
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine