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Introduction to Section One

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 July 2009

Patricia Noller
Affiliation:
Professor of Psychology, University of Queensland
Judith A. Feeney
Affiliation:
Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of Queensland
Patricia Noller
Affiliation:
University of Queensland
Judith A. Feeney
Affiliation:
University of Queensland
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Summary

One feature of the study of marital relationships over the past 20 years has been a focus, not just on couple behaviors, but on the cognitive processes that may drive those behaviors. A wide range of cognitive processes have been studied including appraisals, attributions, beliefs, standards, expectations, rules, perceptions of intention, and subjective interpretations of ongoing interaction. (Some of these cognitive processes are discussed further in the section on coping with disappointment, criticism, and betrayal.) These cognitive processes can be even more powerful than observed behaviors in discriminating between satisfied and dissatisfied couples. The chapters in this section illustrate something of this diversity of cognitive processes and their impact on marital relationships.

Although attributions have been frequently studied by marital researchers, a novel aspect of Manusov's work is its exploration of couples' attributions for their partner's nonverbal behavior, and the effect of these attributions on their own nonverbal behavior. As she notes, one of the intriguing aspects of nonverbal communication is its ability to be interpreted in a myriad of ways. Spouses' interpretations of their partner's nonverbal communication are likely to be affected by many factors including their level of relationship satisfaction. An inno-vative feature of Manusov's work is the recruitment of one member of each couple to act as a confederate who is instructed to use particular kinds of nonverbal behavior in structured interactions with their spouse. This approach ensures that clear examples of positive and neg-ative behavior are displayed by couples, irrespective of marital satis-faction.

Type
Chapter
Information
Understanding Marriage
Developments in the Study of Couple Interaction
, pp. 9 - 13
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2002

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