/publications/issue/2003/2003-09/2003-09-7417

Attitudes Influenced by Partners or Roommates

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    An individual?s attitude toward life is a direct result of the company he or she keeps. The results of a study, published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggest that over time couples and roommates often develop similar emotional reactions to situations.

    In the study, the researchers interviewed 60 heterosexual couples, asking about their personalities, their happiness with the relationship, and the balance of power. After 6 months, the 38 couples that were still together repeated the experiment. As for roommates, the researchers tracked college students living on campus at the start and end of a school year. To measure their emotional similarity, the researchers observed their emotional reactions to a movie.

    The results showed that, when dating, the dominant partner changed less than the partner who had less power. For roommates, the shier of the 2 tended to change more emotionally.