What Predicts Divorce? The Relationship between Marital Processes and Marital Outcomes

By John Mordechai Gottman | Go to book overview

4
Longitudinal Change in Marital Happiness: Observing Physiology as Well as Marital Interaction

The field of social psychophysiology is introduced. This chapter reviews results in predicting and understanding longitudinal change in marriages, particularly with physiological measures.

So far, many of the results I have discussed about marriage point to the fundamental role that affect or emotion plays in understanding marriage and how it changes over time. In 1980, Levenson ( University of California, Berkeley) and I began to study seriously the question of longitudinal change in marriages. We began a collaboration designed to collect data about as many aspects as we could of emotion during marital interaction. We designed procedures that made it possible to obtain videotapes of the interaction synchronized with indexes of physiological activity.

Couples also returned and viewed their videotapes again and rated how they recalled having felt in the interaction. During this recall session, we also obtained physiological data. We discovered that couples tended to "physiologically relive" their interaction as they watched the video; as they watched and rated their videotapes, their hearts beated faster, their blood flowed faster, and they sweated more and moved more at the same times that they did during the actual interaction ( Gottman & Levenson, 1985).

We were not the first to think of obtaining both physiological and social interaction data. In fact, there is a small field known as social psychophysiology, which has a fairly interesting history.


4.1. HISTORY OF SOCIAL PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGY

Social psychophysiology was born in the study of psychotherapy, but it did not leave a lasting mark on that field, nor did it become established

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