Romantic partners’ working memory capacity facilitates relationship problem resolution through recollection of problem-relevant information

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Levi R. Baker, Assistant Professor (Creator)
Michael J. Kane, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Intimates often discuss the causes of, and solutions to, their relationship problems with their partners, and this information can shape partners’ behavior and thus facilitate problem resolution. Partners’ ability to encode and later recall such discussions should lead to greater declines in the severity of those problems. This brief report presents the results from a broader longitudinal study in which newlywed couples completed tasks assessing their working memory capacity (WMC), engaged in problem-solving discussions, recalled those discussions after a short delay, and then reported the severity of the problems discussed over the course of a year. Greater WMC among partners was associated with greater declines in the severity of a relationship problem, mediated by partners’ recall of the discussion of that problem, suggesting that WMC facilitated the long-term memory encoding of the problem discussion. This study is among the first to suggest that individual differences in basic cognitive abilities may affect conversation processing and recall, and thereby close relationships.

Additional Information

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 149, 580-584
Language: English
Date: 2020
conflict, romantic relationships, working memory capacity, problem solving

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