Degree Date



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




This study examined whether changes in momentary emotions, intentions, and expressions of partners’ emotions were linked to changes in spouses’ ability to accurately rate a partner’s emotions. Using a video recall procedure, participants (N = 156 couples in committed relationships) reported on their own emotions, intentions and their perceptions of partners’ emotions during moments of high affect in laboratory-based discussions of upsetting events. The ability to accurately rate a partner’s emotions, which we labeled interpersonal sensitivity (IPS), was found to vary significantly within and across individuals using hierarchical linear modeling techniques. Overall, results demonstrated that fluctuations in the valence (whether it is positive or negative) of the emotional arousal of the sender and the perceiver are linked in meaningful ways with changes in IPS over the interaction. Momentary changes in intentions to facilitate conversation and to control emotional arousal covaried significantly with IPS as well. Additionally, qualities of the relationship, such as how satisfied partners are, influenced the degree to which changes in IPS were linked to changes in affective states and intentions.


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