When accuracy hurts: Reactions of anxious-ambivalent dating partners to a relationship-threatening situation

Jeffry A. Simpson, William Ickes, Jami Grich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations

Abstract

Why are anxious-ambivalent individuals especially likely to have turbulent and unstable relationships? To help answer this question, the authors use 3 theoretical perspectives to examine how heightened empathic accuracy in a relationship-threatening situation is associated with personal and relational distress. Dating couples inferred their partners' thoughts and feelings from a videotaped interaction in which they each rated slides of opposite-sex individuals. Highly anxious-ambivalent individuals were more empathically accurate in this relationship-threatening situation; however, their self-reported thoughts and feelings indicated greater distress and less confidence in their partners and relationships. The more anxious-ambivalent women reported a slight decrease in the perceived closeness of their relationships. Four months later, more anxious-ambivalent men's relationships were more likely to have ended. These findings are discussed in terms of their theoretical and applied implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)754-769
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume76
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1999

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