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Responsive behaviors in good times and in bad


  • Natalya C. Maisel, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles; Shelly L. Gable, Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara; Amy Strachman, eHarmony Labs.

  • This research was supported in part by a Young Scholars Grant from the Templeton Foundation and Positive Psychology Network awarded to Shelly L. Gable. This material is also based upon work supported under an NSF IGERT Interdisciplinary Relationship Science Program trainee fellowship awarded to Natalya C. Maisel. We thank Randi Garcia, Heidi Hiatt, Melody Madanipour, and Elizabeth Sosa for their work as coders, and Elliot Berkman, Belinda Campos, Gian Gonzaga, Emily Impett, Anne Peplau, and Joshua Poore for comments on earlier drafts of the coding guide and/or manuscript.

Natalya C. Maisel, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Graduate Mailroom, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, e-mail:


Although self-disclosure is a critical aspect of interactions between intimate partners, having a partner who is responsive to one’s needs after the disclosure is equally important. But what does responsiveness look like? Two observational coding systems for responsive behaviors (Study 1) were created to test the links between one partner’s behaviors and the other partner’s outcomes, on videotaped interactions of 79 U.S. dating couples disclosing positive and negative events with each other (Study 2). These systems were useful across both types of disclosure interactions, providing evidence for the importance of responsive behaviors in different contexts. Responsive behaviors were associated with postinteraction perceptions of responsiveness, which is important for understanding how the behavioral response impacts both the discloser and the relationship.