From Science Daily
Science Daily — People gauge how responsive their partners are primarily by how they themselves respond to their partners—not the other way around, according to a series of Yale studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
“We have examined this in different ways,” said Margaret Clark, faculty author and psychology professor. “In studies of marriage we’ve found that what people report they do for their partners is a better predictor of what they think their spouse does for them than are the spouse’s own reports of what was done.”
“Most surprisingly,” she said, “when Edward Lemay, a senior Yale graduate student, brought people into the lab and asked leading questions to make them feel supportive or non-supportive of their partner, the first group reported that their partner is more supportive toward them than did the second group.”
Responsiveness in this instance means anything a person does that promotes the partner’s welfare, such as helping with tasks, providing comfort and information, encouraging a person to strive toward goals, including a partner in desirable joint activities, and providing symbolic support, such as words of affection, hugs, and sending greeting cards.
This is a great study and it makes total sense. This goes back to our favorite statement: it’s nice when ‘science’ catches up to common sense. When someone is totally jazzed about a partner, everything that partner does reflects in a much more positive light. Taking this to its next logical step, this could be a huge part of why bad (and violent) relationships don’t go away. The abusive (or unhappy partner) probably views the meek (or aggrieved) partner as being unsupportive. And the put upon partner probably thinks Joe or Jenny Neglectful is great. This is what’s known in ‘science’ as a positive feedback loop. Certain behavior or actions only propagate themselves. Now we understand country music for the first time.