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Emotional Transmission in Couples Under Stress

Anne Thompson and Niall Bolger
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 61, No. 1 (Feb., 1999), pp. 38-48
DOI: 10.2307/353881
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/353881
Page Count: 11
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Emotional Transmission in Couples Under Stress
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Abstract

We examined emotional transmission in 68 couples in which one member was preparing to face a major stressful event, the New York State Bar Examination. This event is the final hurdle in the course of legal training, and it typically evokes high levels of distress in examinees. Examinees and partners provided daily diary reports of their activities and emotional states for 35 days surrounding the event. Concurrent and prospective analyses indicated that examinees' depressed mood on a given day was related to partners feeling less positive and more negative about the relationship. However, as the examination approached, this association declined to a negligible level. These results suggest that partners increasingly made allowances for examinees' negative affect. In this way, partners preserved their ability to be supportive when examinees needed the support most.

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