Recognition of Facial Expressions of Negative Emotions in Romantic Relationships
Previous research has demonstrated that individuals who were accurate at recognizing facial expressions of emotions reported better relationships with family and friends. The purpose of the present study was to test whether the ability to recognize facial expressions of negative emotions predicted greater relationship satisfaction with their romantic relationships and whether this link was mediated by constructive responses to conflict. Participants currently involved in a romantic relationship completed a validated performance measure of recognition of facial expressions and afterwards reported on the responses they engaged in during conflict with their romantic partner and rated their romantic relationship satisfaction. Results showed that accurate recognition of facial expressions of negative emotions (anger, contempt, disgust, fear, and sadness) predicted less conflict engaging behaviors during conflict with their romantic partners (but not positive problem solving and withdrawal), which in turn predicted greater relationship satisfaction. The present study is the first to show that the ability to recognize facial expressions of negative emotions is related to romantic relationship satisfaction and that constructive responses to conflict such as less conflict engaging behaviors, mediate this process.
KeywordsRecognition of facial expressions Romantic relationships satisfaction Conflict engagement Negative emotions
This research was supported in part by a Small Grant FOA 2012-02 from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at San Francisco State University awarded to the first author.
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