Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When it hurts to think we were made for each other

Date:
July 24, 2014
Source:
University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management
Summary:
Psychologists observe that people talk and think about love in limitless ways but underlying such diversity are some common themes that frame how we think about relationships. For example, one popular frame considers love as perfect unity; in another frame, love is a journey. These two ways of thinking about relationships are particularly interesting because, according to a new study, they have the power to highlight or downplay the damaging effect of conflicts on relationship evaluation.

Aristotle said, "Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies." Poetic as it is, thinking that you and your partner were made in heaven for each other can hurt your relationship, says a new study.

Related Articles


Psychologists observe that people talk and think about love in apparently limitless ways but underlying such diversity are some common themes that frame how we think about relationships. For example, one popular frame considers love as perfect unity ("made for each other," "she's my other half"); in another frame, love is a journey ("look how far we've come," "we've been through all these things together"). These two ways of thinking about relationships are particularly interesting because, according to study authors social psychologists Spike W. S. Lee of the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management and Norbert Schwarz of the University of Southern California, they have the power to highlight or downplay the damaging effect of conflicts on relationship evaluation. Here's why. If two people were really made in heaven for each other, why should they have any conflicts?

"Our findings corroborate prior research showing that people who implicitly think of relationships as perfect unity between soulmates have worse relationships than people who implicitly think of relationships as a journey of growing and working things out," says Prof. Lee. "Apparently, different ways of talking and thinking about love relationship lead to different ways of evaluating it."

In one experiment, Profs. Lee and Schwarz had people in long-term relationships complete a knowledge quiz that included expressions related to either unity or journey, then recall either conflicts or celebrations with their romantic partner, and finally evaluate their relationship. As predicted, recalling conflicts leads people to feel less satisfied with their relationship -- but only with the unity frame in mind, not with the journey frame in mind. Recalling celebrations makes people satisfied with their relationship regardless of how they think about it.

In a two follow-up experiments, the study authors invoked the unity vs. journey frame in even subtler, more incidental ways. For example, people were asked to identify pairs of geometric shapes to form a full circle (activating unity) or draw a line that gets from point A to point B through a maze (activating journey). Such non-linguistic, merely pictorial cues were sufficient to change the way people evaluated relationships. Again, conflicts hurt relationship satisfaction with the unity frame in mind, not with the journey frame in mind.

Next time you and your partner have a conflict, as Profs. Lee and Schwarz would advise, think what you said at the altar, "I, ____, take you, ____, to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward 'till death do us part." It's a journey. You'll feel better now, and you'll do better down the road.

The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Spike W.S. Lee, Norbert Schwarz. Framing love: When it hurts to think we were made for each other. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2014; 54: 61 DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2014.04.007

Cite This Page:

University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management. "When it hurts to think we were made for each other." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140724112549.htm>.
University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management. (2014, July 24). When it hurts to think we were made for each other. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140724112549.htm
University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management. "When it hurts to think we were made for each other." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140724112549.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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