Growing up, I’ve heard several married men declare that a happy wife means a happy life. Although the happy life those men were referring to meant less nagging and attitudes, there is some real evidence to back up their claim. Emotional contagion is the idea that individuals take on or mimic the emotions of those around them. Romantic relationships can greatly be affected by emotional contagion due to the many social interactions and close proximity. Recall the last time your partner had great news to tell you. As they are standing in front of you excited and smiling from ear to ear, you cant help but also smile. This is a basic example of emotional contagion.
Researchers have also dug deeper in how emotions can be influenced by romantic partners. One aspect being studied, the partner-expected affect, believes how a person currently feels can be predicted by how their partner thought they previously felt. A study completed by Sels L1, Ceulemans E1, Kuppens P examined this among 50 couples. All the participants were heterosexual and over the age of 18. However the age, length of relationship, and living status varied in order to properly represent the population. Methods and procedures were thoroughly explained to all individuals. Using a grid, they were instructed to mark the position that best corresponded to their current emotion state. A separate grid, they were told to mark how the believed their partner also felt at that exact moment. The study lasted for 7 consecutive days and couples competed the assessment a total of ten times. A signal was sent to each partner notifying them it was time to complete an assessment. It was also documented rather or not the partners had been in contact with each between receiving the signal and starting the assessment.
The results of this study support the idea of partner- expected affect. Both men and women participants self-reported pleasurable feelings more often when their partners also did. Furthermore, how pleasant people felt was positively predicted by how pleasant their partner thought they were feeling before. Emotions are contangious. All forms of relationships must keep this in mind to maintain positive connections.
Partner-expected affect: How you feel now is predicted by how your partner thought you felt before
Sels, Laura; Ceulemans, Eva; Kuppens, Peter. Emotion Vol. 17, Iss. 7, (Oct 2017): 1066-1077.