Summary: Couples who share positive experiences filled with humor and affection, and whose heartbeats synchronize, enjoy better health and live longer than more contentious couples.

Source: UC Berkeley

Hold back the bickering. Couples who share sweet moments filled with humor and affection, and get biologically in sync — two hearts beating as one — enjoy better health prospects and live longer than their more contentious counterparts, new research from the Institute suggests. ‘UC Berkeley.

The results, recently published online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychologyare based on laboratory observations of 154 middle-aged and older married couples, each engaged in an intimate conversation about a conflict in their relationship.

“We focused on those fleeting moments when you two light up together and feel sudden joy, closeness, and intimacy,” said study author Robert Levenson, a UC Berkeley psychology professor.

“What we found is that having these brief shared moments, known as ‘positive resonance’, is a powerful predictor of our health in the future and how long we live.” , he added.

Positive resonance occurs when two people momentarily experience a mutual biological and behavioral surge of warmth, humor, and affection and achieve a sense of oneness. Fear, anxiety, and self-doubt can block this sense of connection.

“The couples in the study varied widely in these measures of positive resonance, with some couples showing dozens of moments of emotional and physiological synchrony and others showing little or none,” Levenson said.

science of lasting love

These micro-moments are a key ingredient in healthy, lasting relationships, according to the study’s lead author, Barbara Fredrickson, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an expert in the science of love.

Researchers from Levenson’s Psychophysiology Lab at Berkeley worked with Fredrickson to test the effect of positive resonance on long-term health and longevity. They used data from the Levenson Longitudinal Study which tracked the marriages of a representative sample of middle-aged and older heterosexual couples in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1989 to 2009.

Every five years, couples came to Levenson’s lab at Berkeley to be observed as they discussed recent events in their relationships, as well as areas of pleasure and disagreement. They also completed questionnaires on marital satisfaction, health issues, and other issues. Just over half of the original spouses in the study are now in their 70s, 80s and 90s. Others died.

For this latest study, the researchers meticulously coded hundreds of videotaped conversations to track how well couples exhibited positive resonance.

“We took a detailed and comprehensive approach to measuring the resonance of positivity in couples by capturing their shared positive emotions, mutual expressions of care, and biological synchrony,” said study lead author Jenna Wells. , who holds a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. candidate in clinical sciences.

How they conducted the study

Two different statistical models were used to predict long-term health and longevity, one that included the full range of biological and behavioral measures of positive resonance that couples exhibited, and another that only analyzed their positive resonance behaviors.

Positive resonance occurs when two people momentarily experience a mutual biological and behavioral surge of warmth, humor, and affection and achieve a sense of oneness. Image is in public domain

Among other factors and influences, the study controlled for health-related behaviors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise, and caffeine consumption.

First, trained behavioral coders objectively assessed the couples’ 15-minute adversarial conversations, identifying individual and shared positive and negative emotions based on what the spouses were saying, their facial expressions, tone of voice and tone of voice. body language.

Next, they identified moments of positive synchrony between the spouses based on the couples’ memories of how they felt while watching videotapes of their conversations.

The 15-minute video recordings were then analyzed for signs of nonverbal synchrony and unconscious “mirror,” which are gestures that signal love, caring and connection, such as smiles, nods, head and leaning forward.

The researchers also identified times when both partners’ heart rates simultaneously slowed or accelerated when expressing positive emotions.

For the second part of the study, they switched to a faster coding system to assess displays of synchrony with mutual warmth, concern, and affection in 30-minute video segments. seconds. Both statistical models indicated that higher rates of positive resonance predicted better future health outcomes and longer lives.

“Regardless of whether we used the full range of biological and behavioral measures of Positivity Resonance or the single holistic measure, we found that spouses in relationships that were high on Positivity Resonance had milder declines in their health over the next 13 years and were more likely to be alive after 30 years,” Levenson said.

As for how couples can apply these findings to build relationships filled with positive resonance, psychologist Art Aron’s 36 Questions or Barbara Fredrickson’s Love 2.0 might be good places to start, Levenson said.

About this news about relationships and longevity research

Author: Yasmine Anwar
Source: UC Berkeley
Contact: Yasmin Anwar – UC Berkeley
Picture: Image is in public domain

Original research: Access closed.
“Positive Resonance in Long-Term Married Couples: Multimodal Characteristics and Implications for Health and Longevity” by Jenna L. Wells et al. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology


See also

This is a diagram of the study

Positive resonance in long-term married couples: multimodal characteristics and implications for health and longevity

The positive resonance theory of co-experienced positive affect describes moments of interpersonal connection characterized by shared positive affect, caring nonverbal synchrony, and biological synchrony. The construct validity of positive resonance and its longitudinal associations with health have not been tested.

The current longitudinal study examined whether positive resonance in conflicting interactions among 154 married couples predicts 13-year health trajectories and 30-year longevity.

We used couples’ continuous affect ratings during interactions to capture co-experienced positive affect and continuous physiological responses to capture biological synchrony between spouses.

Video recordings were behaviorally coded for co-expressed positive affect, synchronous nonverbal affiliate cues (SNACs), and positive resonance behavioral indicators (BIPRs).

To assess construct validity, we performed confirmatory factor analysis to test a latent resonance factor of positivity encompassing co-experienced positive affect, co-expressed positive affect, physiological link of interbeat cardiac intervals, SNAC, and BIPR. The model showed an excellent fit.

To assess associations with health and longevity, we used dyadic latent growth curve modeling and Cox proportional hazards modeling, respectively, and found that greater latent positivity resonance predicted less declines. pronounced health and increased longevity.

The associations were robust when controlling for baseline health symptoms, sociodemographic characteristics, health-related behaviors, and positive affect experienced individually. We repeated the health and longevity analyses, replacing latent positive resonance with BIPR, and found consistent results.

The results validate Positivity Resonance as a multimodal construct, support the utility of the BIPR measure, and provide initial evidence for the characterization of Positivity Resonance as a positive health behavior.

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