Display Rule Development in Romantic Relationships Emotion Management and Perceived Appropriateness of Emotions Across Relationship Stages

Authors

  • KRYSTYNA STRZYZEWSKIAUNE,

    1. Krystyna Strzyzewski Aune (Ph.D., 1992, University of Arizona) is an assistant professor in the Department of Speech at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
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  • DAVID B. BULLER,

    1. David B. Duller (Ph.D., 1984, Michigan State University) is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Arizona.
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  • R. KELLY AUNE

    1. R. Kelly Aune (Ph.D, 1988) is an associate professor in the Department of Speech at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
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  • Study 1 is based on the first author's doctoral dissertation, directed by the second author. The authors wish to thank Dr. Judee Burgoon and Dr. Pat Jones for their contributions, and Dr. Walid Affifi for his research assistance in the lab in Tucson. Study 2 was funded by a Research Relations Fund grant at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The authors also wish to extend their appreciation to Makana Chock for her research assistance in the lab in Honolulu and to Dr. Michael Basil and Dr. Timothy Levine for their contributions. Address all correspondence to the first author.

Abstract

A laboratory study of early dating and married/cohabiting couples showed that perceived appropriateness of emotion expression was lowest for early daters' negative emotions. Partners in more developed relationships managed positive emotions less than negative emotions and less than early daters managed either negative or positive emotions. Biological sex moderated the effect of valence and relationship level on discrepancy scores, the greatest differences between stages being for males’positive emotions and females’negative emotions. A second study using partners across all stages of relationship development found evidence of a curvilinear pattern for relationship length on discrepancy scores. More management of negative emotions was reported by partners in early and later stages of relationship development. Perceived appropriateness of emotion expression was found to increase with relationship development. Females expressions of emotion were considered least appropriate in early-stage relationships. Together the results provide evidence of display rule evolution as relationships develop.

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