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Health & Families

Uncover your relationship subconscious to avoid a break-up

In the July edition of the journal  Psychological Science, researchers outline how they have found a new tool "partner-GNAT" (partner-focused go/no-go association task), a technique using word association drills to reveal subconscious feelings about your relationship and predict break-ups a year in advance. Here is the study's online survey for you and your partner.


On July 12, Ronald D. Rogge, PhD, an assistant clinical psychology professor focusing on early marriage at the University of Rochester in New York, told Relaxnews that couples "could invest in the relationship by doing things like trying to spend quality time together and treating each other with more kindness and less anger on a day to day basis.

"Attitudes can always change and the more fun you have with a partner the more positive your attitude should become."

Rogge also explained that he and colleagues currently have a follow-up study underway.  

As part of it, "individuals taking the survey will do a couple word-sorting tasks and will be given feedback on their performance at the end of the survey."

The survey requires both you and your partner separately filling out the same survey online that includes a short form with relationship facts (how long you have been together, exclusive, living situation, ‘pet names'), word drills (in the beginning and end) and a detailed questionnaire about the dynamics of your relationship (how often does your partner use profanity towards you? are you warm and cheerful?).

The survey seems to work better on a PC than a Mac and it takes longer than the 5-10 minutes described in the beginning, so if you plan to take the survey set aside 30 minutes or so.

To join the study online and take the survey, go to:  http://www.courses.rochester.edu/surveys/funk/GNATintT0/index.htm

In addition to the partner-GNAT word association and word sorting tasks, Rogge says there is "a second [study] that should be starting soon and several more where we are simply collecting the longitudinal data.

"We are now trying to understand how these implicit or subconscious attitudes might shape relationships and influence their outcomes."

"Once we have validated the partner-GNAT a little more thoroughly, we are definitely hoping to extend its use to couples in treatment, relationship enhancing workshops, and even mobile apps," added Rogge.

Rogge and colleagues published their initial findings in the early May online edition of the journal  Psychological Science, "Assessing the Seeds of Relationship Decay: Using Implicit Evaluations to Detect the Early Stages of Disillusionment": http://pss.sagepub.com/content/21/6/857 and Psychological Science made an announcement on July 7: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/redesign/index.php/news/releases/predicting-relationship-breakups-with-a-word-association-task.html