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CORDIS

Understanding the Role of Automatic Partner Attitudes in Relationship Functioning

Project description

A scientific exploration of romantic couples

Romance is important in life. Research suggests romantic relationships help lower the risk of illness, morbidity and mortality. But remaining happy with a long-term romantic partner is not easy, as evidenced by high divorce rates. The EU-funded AutoRelationPun project will explore the functioning and the well-being of relationships. It suggests that automatic partner attitudes reflect the pattern of affective experiences that people encounter with their partner. As such, they are the primary source of behaviour towards that partner. Using a combination of fine-grained longitudinal, observational and experimental methods, the project will test this crucial role of automatic partner attitudes. The findings will provide new insights in relationship science and help romantic couples keep the love alive.

Objective

Romantic relationships are essential for promoting health and reducing mortality risks. However, remaining satisfied with a long-term romantic partner is notoriously difficult, as illustrated by the fact that divorce rates hover around 30-50% in most industrialized societies. Although research shows that how partners respond to one another defines well-functioning relationships, the origins of such crucial behavior remain largely unknown. How can we explain why partners behave the way they do? We argue that studying automatic partner attitudes, as assessed by implicit measures, is key to better understand and promote the functioning and the well-being of relationships. Because they are less sensitive to the positive illusions that are ubiquitous in relationships, we posit that automatic partner attitudes reflect the pattern of affective experiences that people encounter with their partner and, thus, are the primary source of behavior toward that partner. We test this crucial role of automatic partner attitudes for relationship functioning in two lines of research, using a combination of fine-grained longitudinal, observational and experimental methods. In the line of research A, we aim to identify how these attitudes form and affect behavior in dyadic interactions. Sampling real-life experiences from romantic couples over different time spans will allow us to understand the cyclical relationship between automatic partner attitudes and behavior in daily life. In the line of research B, we aim to intervene on these attitudes to improve relationship functioning and well-being. Experimentally enhancing automatic partner attitudes and the ability to regulate them will allow us to identify causal paths and develop interventions. By taking an inter-disciplinary approach, the proposed project will invigorate research in relationship science, social cognition and attitudes, but also offer applicable strategies that can efficiently help couples and reliably benefit society.

Coordinator

STICHTING RADBOUD UNIVERSITEIT
Net EU contribution
€ 253 052,16
Address
HOUTLAAN 4
6525 XZ Nijmegen
Netherlands

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Region
Oost-Nederland Gelderland Arnhem/Nijmegen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 253 052,16

Partners (1)