Entries in self-regulation (11)

Sunday
Feb072016

“Give me a minute”...Before I Behave Badly

You’re having a stressful week at work. You’ve had projects fail, presentations go awry, and to top it off, you just ended your week with a performance review that you don’t think went very well. As you arrive home, tired and just relieved to finally be there, you walk through the door and your partner immediately begins asking you about whether you picked up lettuce from the grocery store, dropped that package off at the post office, and adds, “Why didn’t you take out the recycling this morning?” You can’t believe it. Doesn’t he know the week that you’ve had? How could he be so uncaring? So, you don’t hold back: “Well, I see you didn’t do the dishes like you said you would. And is this what we’re having for dinner? Yikes.” Uh oh… this isn't how you want to act in your relationship! But we’ve all been there. What happened?!

What you’ve experienced is a phenomenon known as stress spillover—stress that we experience in one life domain (e.g., work) ‘spills’ out of that domain and into others (e.g., home life).1 And we know that spillover can have a detrimental effect on our relationships; individuals reporting higher levels of stress are less forgiving of their partners, more likely to criticize and blame their partners, less satisfied in their relationships, show poorer communication skills, and are more likely to have their relationships end.1,2 (Find more about the effects of stress spillover here.) In other words, relationships unfold in broader contexts, and many of the stressors in these contexts (e.g., problems at work, juggling kids, transportation issues) make it more difficult for partners to maintain happy and healthy relationships, regardless of the generally deep desire or motivation to do so.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May072015

7 Ways to Use Science to Help Your Partner Meet His or Her Goals

Most advice on pursuing goals focuses on what you can do to achieve your own aims. But how can you help those you love to achieve their goals? Relationship partners play an important role in helping or hindering our progress toward our goals.1

Here are seven science-backed tips for helping your partner:

1. Encourage your partner

Research shows that encouragement from romantic partners to pursue goals in areas such as career, school, friendship, and fitness makes people more likely to actually achieve those goals.2

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar302015

“I’d Do Anything (I Can) For You”: Sacrifice Requires More than Just Motivation

Why do we make sacrifices for our loved ones? Research tells us that our commitment is what motivates our willingness to sacrifice. Sacrifice, after all, is really about navigating a conflict of interest. We encounter these conflicts of interest when our own personal needs and goals are incompatible with those of our partner or our relationship overall (e.g., continuing to watch our favorite Netflix show vs. helping a partner prepare for a job interview). In order to sacrifice, we have to resist the gut-level urge to act selfishly and instead focus on the long-term benefits to our relationship.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec032013

Sticking Together: Executive Control Cements Strong Relationships

We can learn a lot about what makes for happy, long-lasting romantic relationships by studying the various reasons why relationships fail. Though there isn’t a surefire algorithm that takes into account every possible factor that predicts how a relationship will evolve, research does give us insight into the characteristics and circumstances that help partners “stick” together – or not. One obvious reason why people break up is infidelity, or cheating. This “grim reaper” of relationships has attracted the attention of researchers who aim to identify tendencies that put partners at risk for getting into “sticky situations” outside of their current relationship. 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct092013

Cups or No Cups, Anna Kendrick was Right, You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone

When faced with a potential break-up, who among us hasn’t uttered the phrase, “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone?” Whether expressed as a threat or stated matter-of-factly, it is an all-too-familiar anthem for underappreciated dumpers and dumpees alike. Even if you were only bluffing when you said it, you can seek solace in the fact that whether they want to or not, your exs are indeed going to miss you when you’re gone.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May292013

Likes Attract, But Do They Last? The Role of Self-Control

Partners’ level of similarity in their values, backgrounds, and life goals promotes attraction and relationship success. Although “birds of a feather” may flock together, do those similarly-feathered birds always have the best relationships over the long flight ahead? Recent research on self-control suggests that the answer is both yes and no.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Aug232012

When Are Pick Up Lines Most Effective? 

Have you ever been out at a bar or at a party and had someone try a pick-up line on you? These lines can be corny (“Hey, how much does a polar bear weigh? Enough to break the ice”) or straightforward, (“Do I know you from somewhere? You look really familiar”). Researchers refer to these types of pick-up lines as “opening gambits” or “relationship initiation strategies.” (Editor’s Note: If you use either of those terms in public, you probably won’t be picking up anyone). 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov012011

A Time to Cheat: How Situations Promote Infidelity

As any good social scientist will tell you, a person’s surroundings and environment have powerful influences on behavior. To assume that there are only cheaters and non-cheaters in the world is an oversimplification. Instead, there are situations where infidelity is more likely to occur. For example, the stress one experiences from a long day at school or at work could increase the chances of being unfaithful.  

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jul292011

A Cookie a Day Keeps Impulsive Sexual Behavior at Bay

Suppose you’re at dinner with someone you just started dating. You’re reading the menu and you see a meal you would just love to have – in my case, it would be baby back ribs. You can almost taste how great those ribs will be, in all of their fall-off-the-bone glory. The server then passes right by you with the food for the table next to you, and wouldn’t you know it – they ordered ribs! But then you remember how messy ribs are to eat. And then you think about how disgusting you will look holding the bone and pulling the meat off like you’re an animal. What will your date think of you? So rather than indulge yourself, you instead order the beet salad.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May102011

Who Breaks Romantic Promises?

We’ve all done it-- made promises to our partner only to later break them. New research confirms that those who care the most about the feelings of their partner may set themselves up for failure by over-promising. In contrast, people who are less focused on their partner's feelings and instead more focused on controlling their own behavior promise less but are more likely to keep their word.

Peetz, J., & Kammrath, L. (2011). Only because I love you: Why people make and why they break promises in romantic relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 887-904. doi: 10.1037/a0021857

Monday
Feb282011

Help Me, While I Take a Nap

We take it for granted that support from a partner is good (e.g., see the post on invisible support from a few days ago). Partners help you in many ways; when you need help studying for a big exam or are trying to exercise more, having your partner there to support and encourage you is a big help, right? A new paper by Gráinne Fitzsimons and Eli Finkel questions this assumption. They propose that people are actually less motivated and try less hard to achieve their goals when they have thought about the help that a partner could provide them in reaching those goals.

Basically, having a helpful partner can lead you to try getting away with being more of a slacker. For example, if you think about how your partner helped you on a previous academic task, you'll procrastinate more. You'll also exercise less if you previously thought about how your partner had helped with past health and fitness goals. Seriously, why bother with the Shake Weight when you can just think about your partner's help?  These results were accentuated when participants recently exerted energy on other tasks; when they were tired they relied on a partner's help more at the cost of their own efforts.

Click to read more ...