The goal of the present study was to investigate empathic accuracy in couples, specifically the partners' ability to predict each other's emotional reactions to social situations. For this, 36 French Canadian couples aged from 18 to 34 years predicted their own reactions as well as their partner's reactions to a series of emotional situations. They then role-played these emotional situations while being videotaped. At a later time, the taped role-play segments were rated by the role-play actors themselves, by their partners, and by 5 individuals who did not know the actors. Results revealed high levels of empathic accuracy when we compared the partners' predictions of each other's reactions. However, when these predictions were compared with the participants' self-evaluations of their role-plays or with evaluations by individuals who did not know the actors, partners showed a positive bias in that they predicted more appropriate and fewer inappropriate reactions to the social situations for their partners than were self-rated by the partners themselves or rated by individuals who did not know the actors. Finally, the existence of couple-specific private meaning systems could not be confirmed in the present context as the evaluations of emotional expressions by unknown others, the actors' partners, and the actors themselves were largely congruent.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 28, 2004
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