Laurenceau, J-P., Troy, A. B., & Carver, C. S. (2005). Two distinct emotional experiences in romantic relationships: Effects of perceptions regarding approach of intimacy and avoidance of conflict. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 1123-1133.

This study examined how perceived “position” and “velocity” with regard to approach and avoidance in romantic relationships relate to affective experiences. Predictions were perceived progress toward intimacy (successful approach) would predict positive affect and that perceived movement toward conflict (failure of avoidance) would predict anxious affect. Ninety-two romantic couples recorded perceived levels of, and perceived changes in, both intimacy and conflict twice daily over 10 consecutive days using electronic palm-top devices. Perceived increase in intimacy related to positive affect (e.g., passion and excitement) above and beyond perceptions of intimacy (which also related to positive affect), conflict, and changes in conflict, for both male and female partners. Perceived increase in conflict related to anxious affect above and beyond perceptions of conflict (which also related to anxiety), intimacy, and changes in intimacy, but only among males. Findings support a dual-process view of these feelings in relationships. Further, the pattern suggests that an increase in positive feelings in close relationships depends on enhancing intimacy rather than on decreasing conflict.

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University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology