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Agreeing To Avoid Conflict Is A Bad Idea

A new study gives men a crucial insight, simply agreeing with women in a bid to avoid conflict simply does not work. Researchers from The University of Arizona studied differences in communication styles and concluded that wives picked up on the fact that their husband’s “yes dears” and “uh-huhs” were disingenuous, which in turn aggravated and escalated the situation.

Apparently, 68 percent of men thought that saying “yes dear” would temper their other halves.

The study probes how cooperation is essential in any successful romantic relationship, but how men and women experience cooperation emotionally may be quite different, according to new research conducted at the University of Arizona.

Research leader Ashley Randall stated,

“Cooperation – having the ability to work things out with your partner, while achieving mutually beneficial outcomes – is so important in relationships, and I wondered what kind of emotional connectivity comes from cooperating with your partner?” said Randall, who is also a research associate in the UA’s department of psychiatry.

Take, for example, the following familiar scenario: A woman emerges from a department store fitting room and asks her husband what he thinks of a potential new shirt. He likes it, he says, hoping his time at the mall is nearing an end. So does the woman head straight to the cash register and make the purchase? Probably not. Chances are, her husband’s enthusiasm won’t be enough; she’ll want to try on a few more shirts first.

Social psychology literature on cooperation tells us that women generally tend to cooperate more, while men often try to avoid conflict. Thus, men might be subconsciously syncing their emotions with their partners’ during cooperation in an effort to avoid conflict or reach a speedy resolution, Randall says.

If that’s the case, it’s possible, although Randall’s study didn’t test for it, that women may pick up on the fact that their partner’s agreeability is not entirely authentic. If she suspects he’s not really as positive as he seems, or that he has an ulterior motive, she may become less positive herself in an attempt to get at his real feelings and reach a more mutually satisfying resolution, Randall suggests.

“Cooperation is something that’s invaluable and instrumental in a successful relationship but men and women experience it differently,” Randall said. “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.”

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