Format

Send to

Choose Destination
J Pers Soc Psychol. 2015 Aug;109(2):262-75. doi: 10.1037/pspi0000025. Epub 2015 Jun 22.

Avoidance orientation and the escalation of negative communication in intimate relationships.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology-Psychology of Emotion, Motivation and Volition.
2
Department of Psychology, Psychological Methods and Evaluation, Bielefeld University.
3
Department of Psychology-Clinical Psychology, University of California.
4
University Research Priority Program, Dynamics of Healthy Aging, University of Zurich.
5
Department of Psychology-Clinical Psychology for Children/Adolescents, and Couples/Families, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Avoidance goals heighten the salience of negative social experiences, and in intimate relationships such an orientation may contribute to communication difficulties and the perpetuation of avoidance. We therefore hypothesized that individuals with stronger avoidance goals would be particularly prone to engage in escalating levels of negative communication with their intimate partner, and we tested this prediction by conducting sequential analyses on videotaped observational data (28,470 observations) collected from 365 heterosexual couples engaging in a relationship-related conflict. While less avoidance-oriented spouses showed a decline in their likelihood of negative communication over the course of the 8-min conflict discussion, the likelihood that more avoidance-oriented spouses would display negative communication behaviors remained at a high level. The likelihood of negative communication even increased when avoidance-oriented spouses were confronted with negative communication behavior of their partners. The effects of avoidance orientation were independent of relationship satisfaction and neuroticism. These findings demonstrate that avoidance goals underlie individuals' heightened reactivity to the partner's negative behavior, while also clarifying 1 possible reason why some individuals engage in communication behaviors that may prove maladaptive to their relationship.

PMID:
26098586
DOI:
10.1037/pspi0000025
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Psychological Association Icon for Zurich Open Access Repository and Archive
Loading ...
Support Center