Feature Archive

Emotions Reveal Troubled Marriages

Men's Hostility, Women's Sadness May Reveal a Troubled Marriage

ByJenniferWarner
WebMD Medical News

Reviewed By MichaelSmith,MD on Friday, June 18, 2004

June 18, 2004 -- It may not take an expert to spot a marriage bound for trouble. A new study shows a group of college students was able to predict with more than 80% accuracy which couples would still be together five years later by just observing their emotional interactions.

Researchers say the students used their innate abilities to recognize emotions and were surprisingly accurate in identifying troubled marriages.

"We aimed to see whether people could use their intuitive judgments to identify what couples were expressing emotionally and whether these judgments could predict relationship health," says researcher Robert Waldinger, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston, in a news release.

"These judgments were highly predictive of relationship health and longevity. Investigators have typically attempted to make research on this topic more objective by using a complex list of rules and directions for identifying specific behaviors in intimate relationships," says Waldinger. "In contrast, we relied on people's natural abilities to recognize a variety of emotions."