While men mirror their partner's emotions, women sway the other way, says a new study. Picture:AFP
A new study published out of the US sheds light on the significant differences in how men and women try to cooperate and appease one another in a relationship.
As researchers from the University of Arizona point out, one of the keys to a successful relationship is compromise and cooperation.
But after observing 44 straight couples in an experiment that gauged their emotional responses during a mundane conversation about their shared lifestyle with respect to health and diet, study authors concluded that while a man tends to mirror a woman’s emotional response in order to appease her, a woman, on the other hand, will sway in the opposite direction.
That is, if her partner is feeling more positive, she will tend to feel less positive and vice versa.
As an example, researchers provide the typical and familiar fitting room scenario: in order to appease his partner and expedite the shopping process, the man may hastily declare that he likes the new dress.
Instead of accepting her partner’s reaction, unsatisfied with his response the woman is likely to try on more dresses, authors note.
The findings, which were recently released and published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, support an existing body of research -- and anecdotal evidence -- that men cooperate to avoid conflict.
Women, meanwhile, tend to serve as “emotional regulators” during cooperation and try to get at the root of a problem rather than brush it off.
"Cooperation is something that's invaluable and instrumental in a successful relationship but men and women experience it differently," said lead author Ashley Randall.
"This research provides another avenue to understanding how partners' emotions can become linked, but future research is needed on how these emotional patterns may ultimately contribute to the longevity, or demise, of the romantic relationship."
For the experiment, couples were asked to watch a videotape of themselves discussing their dietary lifetyles and to provide feedback about how they were feeling with the use of a rating dial. Researchers analyzed the videos as well as the participants' responses.
Meanwhile, a meta analysis of 50 years of research carried out in 2011 found that contrary to popular belief, not only are men equally cooperative when it comes down to the wire, but they’re also better at compromising with fellow men compared to women who have to cooperate with other women.
The study was published by the American Psychological Association in Psychological Bulletin.