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Emotion. 2008 Dec;8(6):792-802. doi: 10.1037/a0013976.

Support provision in marriage: the role of emotional similarity and empathic accuracy.

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Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University.


The goal of this investigation was to identify microlevel processes in the support provider that may foster or inhibit the provision of spousal support. Specifically, the authors focused on (a) how emotional similarity between the support provider and support seeker and (b) how empathic accuracy of the support provider relate to support provision in marriage. In a laboratory experiment, 30 couples were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 conditions (support provider: man vs. woman) of a factorial design. The couples provided questionnaire data and participated in a social support interaction designed to assess behaviors when offering and soliciting social support. A video-review task was used to assess emotional similarity and empathic accuracy during the support interaction. As expected, greater similarity between the support provider's and support seeker's emotional responses, as well as more accurate insights into the support-seeking spouse's thoughts and feelings were found to be predictive of more skilful support (i.e., higher levels of emotional and instrumental support and lower levels of negative types of support).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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