Summary: Stress can have a detrimental effect on relationships. When feeling stressed, a person is more likely to notice and dwell on a partner’s negative behaviors than positive behaviors.

Source: Association for Personality and Social Psychology

Stressful life situations can affect how couples interact, but do they affect how partners view each other? Stressed people are more likely to see their spouse’s behavior negatively than positively, a new study suggests. Social psychology and personality science.

Previous research has focused on how stress affects behavior, but this study suggests that stress may influence actions that partners first notice. Negative behaviors being monitored include breaking promises to a partner, becoming angry or impatient, or criticizing a partner.

“We found that individuals who reported experiencing more stressful situations outside of their relationship, such as problems at work, were more likely to perceive their partner as being inconsiderate,” said lead author Dr. Lisa Neff of the university. Texas in Austin.

Researchers asked 79 heterosexual newlyweds to complete a short survey every night for 10 days in which they recorded their own and their partner’s behavior. Before beginning this part of the study, participants completed a questionnaire in which they shared details about stressful situations in their lives.

Studying newlyweds drives home the importance of the results, says Dr. Neff, because couples are especially likely to focus on each other’s positive traits and ignore negative behaviors during the “honeymoon.”

“For many people, the past few years have been difficult — and the stresses of the pandemic continue,” Dr. Neff said. “If stress causes individuals to focus their attention on behaviors that are less important to their partner, this can damage the relationship.”

This shows the unhappy couple
Studying newlyweds drives home the importance of the results, says Dr. Neff, because couples are especially likely to focus on each other’s positive traits and ignore negative behaviors during the “honeymoon.” Image is in public domain.

Researchers say that one stressful day isn’t enough for a person to zero in on a partner’s negative behavior, but a long-term accumulation of stressful life situations can cause this shift in focus.

The findings also suggest that people under stress are not less likely to perceive positive behaviors in their partners, but are more likely to perceive insensitive behaviors.

While recognizing the consequences of stress may allow couples to modify their behavior and limit relationship damage, Dr. Neff said this remains a hypothesis until more research is done. Future research would do well to extend this research beyond the honeymoon phase, she says.

“One direction is to examine whether the harmful effects of stress may be stronger between couples,” says Dr. Neff. “How Stressful Effects Affect”

So stress and relationships research news

Author: Stephen Waldron.
Source: Association for Personality and Social Psychology
Contact: Stephen Waldron – Association for Personality and Social Psychology
Image: The image is in the public domain.

Preliminary study: Closed access.
When rose-colored glasses turn to clouds: Attitudes toward stressful life situations and partner behavior in newlyweds.” by Lisa Neff et al Social psychology and personality science

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This shows the blue print of the brain

Draft

When rose-colored glasses turn to clouds: Attitudes toward stressful life situations and partner behavior in newlyweds.

Stressful life situations can damage a couple’s relationship by increasing tensions and hindering positive exchanges between partners. However, stress can be related not only to what individuals do in their relationships, but also to what they see, because stress shifts individuals’ attention to negative stimuli.

To test this possibility, the current study examined whether individuals who experience more stressful life events and/or daily problems are more likely to attend to their spouse’s negative relationship behaviors.

A diary study of 79 newlyweds found that individuals who had recently experienced a number of stressful life events were particularly attuned to day-to-day fluctuations in their spouse’s negative behaviors, but not their spouse’s positive behaviors. Moreover, these individuals generally found that their partner developed more negativity during the diary period compared to individuals whose partners had experienced less stressful events.

These findings hold when adjusting for several individual-difference factors known to predict attitudinal biases in relationships.

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