The Heart of Conversation: Using State Space Grids to Disentangle Cardiovascular and Affect Dynamics During Couple Interaction

  • Clint L. Broadbent
  • Todd A. Spencer
  • Brandt C. GardnerEmail author
  • Nathan Hardy
Part of the Emerging Issues in Family and Individual Resilience book series (EIIFR)


We demonstrate the use of the state space grid as a within-individual measure of cardio-affective response. Data comes from a handful of randomly selected participant couples who were part of an earlier study. Couples were asked to have a conversation about a recent incident where they felt hurt or offended in their relationship. BioPAC hardware was used to collect cardiovascular data. Following the conversation, each partner provided a continuous self-report of their affect state as they re-watched the video of the conversation. Inter-beat interval was selected as the cardiovascular variable due to its near-continuous nature and similarity in structure to the affect data. The purpose of this exercise is to first explore the viability of creating within-subject measures that are composites of both affective and physiological data and the variables that might be generated and tested via traditional statistical analyses. We also explore the emergence of pattern and structure when combining two streams of data from different sources. We finally look at the possibility of physiological synchrony between romantic partners by loading both partners’ IBI streams into the state space grid.


Couples Attachment Affect Relational dynamics State space grid 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clint L. Broadbent
    • 1
    • 2
  • Todd A. Spencer
    • 1
  • Brandt C. Gardner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nathan Hardy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family ScienceOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  2. 2.Department of Teacher Education & Family DevelopmentSouthern Utah UniversityCedar CityUSA

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