Test of the effectiveness of attributional feedback in reducing negative behavior in distressed couples
Bennie, Deborah A.
Master of Arts
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A noted feature of distressed couples is that their conflict discussions begin normally but soon escalate into negative exchanges. They tend to attribute their conflict to the negative personality traits of their partner, and view their own negative actions as justified reactions to their partner's behavior. In the present study ten couples discussed high conflict issues and received video and verbal feedback about their attributional discrepancies on three occasions over one month. Videotapes of the discussions and self-report measures were analyzed to determine whether the feedback was effective in reducing negative conversational behavior. It was found that couples: (1) accepted more responsibility for the conflict across sessions; (2) exhibited less negative reciprocity on session 3 than on session 2, and more positive reciprocity in session 3 than in the earlier sessions; and (3) reported feeling that they were more successful in resolving sessions 2 and 3 than session 1 However, the results were generally quite weak and it was concluded that there was only tentative support for the use of video and attributional feedback in assisting distressed couples.