How does your ability to read your partner’s emotions affect your relationship? A new study by the University of Toronto and the University of Rochester shed some light on this subject by attempting to understand when empathetic accuracy, or the ability to read other’s emotions, benefits or harms a relationship. The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found that appeasement emotions, such as embarrassment were more beneficial for a relationship than dominant emotions, such as anger.
The aim was to find an association between empathic accuracy with both the quality of the relationship and the willingness to change in order to make a partner happy. For the study, the researchers chose 111 couples who had been dating for an average of three years. The participants discussed changes they wanted to see in their partner. This included personal characteristics, behaviors, and their temper. This feedback was sought by both partners in a relationship.
The participants then rated their partner’s emotions, their own emotions, the quality of the relationship, and their desire to change according to their partner’s requests. The team was attempting to assess these parameters according to the type of emotion detected, namely appeasement or dominance. They found that relationship quality was rated higher for appeasement emotions. Dominant emotions may induce more intense feelings but displayed poor relationship quality. Empathetic accuracy however did not influence the desire to change.