Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Personality Shapes Perception Of Romance, But Doesn't Tell The Whole Story

Date:
November 17, 2008
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Researchers have found that measuring the quality of romantic relationships is more complex than earlier studies suggest. While personality has been found to be predictive of perceived relationship satisfaction and success, other measures of relationship quality may offer additional insight into how a romantic relationship is functioning.

Psychology professor Glenn Roisman and graduate student Ashley Holland found that measuring the quality of romantic relationships is more complex than earlier studies suggest.
Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Personality researchers have long known that people who report they have certain personality traits are also more (or less) likely to be satisfied with their romantic partners. Someone who says she is often anxious or moody, for example, is more likely than her less neurotic counterpart to be dissatisfied with her significant other.

In a new analysis, researchers at the University of Illinois found that measuring the quality of romantic relationships is more complex than these earlier studies suggest. While personality has been found to be predictive of perceived relationship satisfaction and success, other measures of relationship quality may offer additional insight into how a romantic relationship is functioning.

“Obviously there are going to be strong links between how you perceive your relationship and how you perceive yourself,” said Ashley Holland, a doctoral student in developmental psychology who led the research as part of her master’s thesis. “But maybe there are not going to be such strong links between how you perceive yourself and how well you actually interact with your partner.”

“Our question was whether personality traits get reflected not just in how people perceive their relationships, but actually how they’re behaving toward one another – and how their bodies respond while they interact,” said Illinois psychology professor Glenn Roisman, a co-author on the study.

The researchers began by giving dating, engaged and married participants a questionnaire about their own and their partners’ personalities and the quality of their relationships. The participants had to indicate where they fell on a spectrum of each of the “big five” personality traits: extroversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness to experience.

This part of the analysis confirmed some of what other studies had found: How an individual describes his own personality characteristics corresponds to how satisfied or dissatisfied he is in his romantic relationship.

The researchers also included two other measures of their subjects’ relationship quality. The researchers’ goal was to compare the self-reported data to that obtained by observation and specific physiological measures. This is the first such study to use all three approaches.

Trained observers watched videotapes of study participants as they discussed disagreements and agreements in their relationships. The observers coded each person on his or her positive and negative behaviors, such as smiling or scowling, avoiding or making eye contact, and so on. Each participant was given a final score that reflected the balance of positive and negative behaviors and attributes observed.

The researchers also measured participants’ heart rate and skin conductance during their interactions. Skin conductance is a gauge of how much a person sweats. Other studies have established that sweating is a sign that the person is making an effort to control his or her own behavior. If a person sweats a lot when engaged in a conversation with her partner, it’s a sign that she is becoming aroused or agitated in a way that requires self-control.

“Both heart rate and skin conductance have been linked to a host of important outcomes in interpersonal relationships, including the likelihood of divorce,” Roisman said. “It’s a problem if you need to inhibit yourself greatly while having a conversation with your partner about the kinds of things that you would ordinarily be talking about and trying to resolve in your daily lives.”

The researchers found that the way the participants described themselves and their relationships was not strongly linked to how they behaved toward one another in the laboratory. This suggests that those who study relationships might need to look deeper than what individuals report about themselves and their romantic partners, Roisman said.

“Romantic relationships are complex and multi-faceted, and, therefore, measuring the quality of romantic relationships should probably include a variety of approaches in order to get a more nuanced view of how the relationship is functioning,” Holland said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Holland et al. Big Five personality traits and relationship quality: Self-reported, observational, and physiological evidence. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 2008; 25 (5): 811 DOI: 10.1177/0265407508096697

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Personality Shapes Perception Of Romance, But Doesn't Tell The Whole Story." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081030192849.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2008, November 17). Personality Shapes Perception Of Romance, But Doesn't Tell The Whole Story. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081030192849.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Personality Shapes Perception Of Romance, But Doesn't Tell The Whole Story." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081030192849.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — A study by King's College London says there's a link between how well kids draw at age 4 and how intelligent they are later in life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins