Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Simulated relationships offer insight into real ones

08.08.2007
Is it me, or are you a less than ideal partner? For psychologists studying how people manage romantic relationships, that's not an easy question to answer. What if one of the partners is deeply afraid of intimacy? Could she be acting in ways that undermine the relationship? Or is her partner contributing to the problem?

In a new study appearing in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers at the University of Illinois explore these issues by looking at the choices people make in simulated online dating relationships. By standardizing the behavior of the romantic "partner," the study clarifies how each participant's outlook influences his or her choices and satisfaction with the romance.

The online study took participants through a series of scenarios about a relationship with a fictional partner. Each scenario ended with two options, from which the participant chose his or her response.

"The interesting thing is that all the participants were reacting to the same person, the same scenario," said psychology graduate student Amanda Vicary, a co-author on the study with psychology professor R. Chris Fraley. "And yet the pattern of their responses was quite different."

... more about:
»Negative »Relationship »Scenario »choice »romantic »series

Vicary and Fraley modeled their study on a 1979 Random House interactive fiction series, "Choose Your Own Adventure," which allowed the reader to select from multiple options at critical points in the story. Each choice directed the reader to a new scenario.

This approach appealed to the researchers because earlier studies of individual behavior in relationships asked participants to make choices based solely on descriptions of isolated events. The sequential nature of the new study was more like an actual relationship, Vicary said, in that it involved ongoing interactions with the same partner.

The online study began with an assessment of participant attachment styles. A series of questions about how much the person trusts, confides in or relies on a current or former romantic partner allowed the researchers to profile the participant's level of security or insecurity, anxiety, or intimacy-avoidance in romantic relationships.

Fraley is a creator of this Experience in Close Relationships-Revised
(ECR-R) inventory, a tool for measuring participants' attachment styles.
After completing the ECR-R inventory and reading instructions, participants answered a series of 20 relationship questions. Each question described an event in the relationship and gave the participant an opportunity to select one of two options for responding to the event. One of the options enhanced the relationship; the other undermined it.
The study included three experiments, each involving a different group of participants. In the first, all participants read the same story and selected from the same options at the end of each scenario.

In the second, a participant interacted with either a supportive or unsupportive partner throughout the exercise. In both experiments, the participants' choices had no influence on the behavior of their partners or on the scenarios.

In the third experiment, however, their choices did influence the simulated partners' responses. If the participant made a relationship-enhancing choice, he or she got a positive verbal response from the simulated partner and then moved to a new scenario involving a supportive version of that partner. Making a negative choice elicited a negative, rejecting response from the partner and a new scenario in which the partner behaved in an unsupportive way.

The researchers found that a participant's attachment style (that is, secure or insecure, anxious or intimacy-avoidant) was a good predictor of the pattern of his or her choices.

"People who are highly insecure are more likely to interpret their partners' actions in a negative way and then choose to respond in kind," Vicary said. The more secure individuals more often chose the positive, relationship-enhancing options.

As they progressed through the list of scenarios, most of the participants increased the rate at which they made positive choices.

The anxious or avoidant participants increased their relationship-enhancing choices more gradually than their peers, however. This was true even in the third experiment, when their choices elicited immediate feedback in the form of a positive or negative response.

"It is interesting that even when highly insecure individuals experience responses as a direct function of their actions, they are still relatively slow to adopt beneficial relationship choices," the authors wrote. "It is possible that insecure individuals simply do not realize the detrimental impact that their actions have on their relationships."

Not surprisingly, participants who interacted with supportive partners were quicker to make positive choices and tended to be more satisfied with the interaction.

The researchers also found that the nature of the choices each participant made determined his or her satisfaction with the simulated relationship: The more positive choices he or she made, the more satisfied the participant was with the relationship at the end of the experiment.

"This finding is noteworthy because it demonstrates that one's own internal dynamics affect relationship satisfaction independently of the behavior of one's partner," the authors wrote.

To view or subscribe to the RSS feed for Science News at Illinois, please go to: http://webtools.uiuc.edu/rssManager/608/rss.xml.

Diana Yates | University of Illinois
Further information:
http://www.uiuc.edu

Further reports about: Negative Relationship Scenario choice romantic series

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>