A multimethod investigation of depressive symptoms, perceived understanding, and relationship quality


  • Amie M. Gordon, Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; Rugile Tuskeviciute, Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY; Serena Chen, Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA.

  • This work was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship awarded to A.M.G.


This research examines whether people who are experiencing more depressive symptoms perceive their partners as less able to understand their thoughts and feelings. Results showed that depressive symptoms (Studies 1 and 3) and depressive mood (Study 2) were negatively associated with perceived understanding in general (Study 1), in daily life (Study 2), and during a conflict conversation (Study 3). Partners of people who were more depressed actually were less empathically accurate during the conflict conversation in Study 3, although they did not recognize that they were being less understanding. Moreover, perceived understanding helped explain the link between depressive symptoms and relationship quality in all three studies, and these effects held when controlling for self-reported understanding and perceived partner hostility.