Effect of stress on empathic accuracy in romantic couples

Update item information
Publication Type thesis
School or College College of Social & Behavioral Science
Department Psychology
Author Crenshaw, Alexander O.
Title Effect of stress on empathic accuracy in romantic couples
Date 2016
Description Theoretical models of romantic relationships consider empathy, or the ability to understand and feel the thoughts and feelings of another, to be an essential ingredient of successful romantic relationships. Empathy is thought to promote optimal relationship functioning by enhancing intimacy, increasing the effectiveness of social support, and improving the likelihood that spouses can effectively manage and resolve conflict. Building on these theoretical ideas, improving empathic ability in couples is one of the fundamental goals directing Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy, a therapy with among the strongest empirical support for treating relationship distress. Yet, despite the theoretical importance of empathy for relationship processes, little is currently known about situational factors associated with empathic accuracy (correctly understanding the thoughts and feelings of a spouse) during relationship interactions. Converging evidence implicates stress as a common life experience likely to substantially impair empathic accuracy, though this possibility has not been studied empirically. The current study is a pilot study using an experimental design and video recall procedure to examine the effect of a standardized stress task on romantic couples’ empathic accuracy during a conflict discussion. Associations between empathic accuracy and relationship functioning variables are also examined. Results indicate that couples assigned to the stress condition demonstrated significantly reduced empathic accuracy compared with those in a control condition. Associations between empathic accuracy and each partner’s self-report of relationship satisfaction, intimacy, and support were nonsignificant. However, there was a trend-level association between higher empathic accuracy and lower self-report of demanding behaviors. Results are discussed in terms of the deleterious effects of stress and empathic accuracy’s association with relationship functioning.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject Social psychology; Clinical psychology
Dissertation Name Master of Science
Language eng
Rights Management © Alexander O. Crenshaw
Format Medium application/pdf
ARK ark:/87278/s6qp0bzm
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2018-06-21
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 1344548
Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6qp0bzm
Back to Search Results