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 photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources
29.05.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

nachricht Copper hydroxide nanoparticles provide protection against toxic oxygen radicals in cigarette smoke
29.05.2017 | 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: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources

29.05.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA's SDO sees partial eclipse in space

29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>