Empathy in Romantic Relationships: A Research Proposal

Throughout the semester, the class has focused heavily on empathy as a broad concept, covering numerous situations. We’ve looked at empathy in the courtroom, empathy for people of other races, empathy for a father, and even empathy for those committing atrocious acts. In several of my own blogs, I’ve addressed empathy as a very malleable concept and it has proven to be just that. However, with relationship science being a fairly new and emerging science in psychology, I thought it would be interesting to venture into the realm of empathy as it pertains to romantic relationships.

downloadIn doing so, my goal is to uncover what exactly the role of empathy is in romantic relationships, and how couples can harness it to benefit their relationship. In order to do this, I intend to not only uncover the beneficial effects of empathy, but the harmful effects as well. For instance, it appears perceived empathy (believing one’s partner empathizes with them, or is trying to empathize with them) appears to be more important for a couple’s relationship satisfaction than accurately empathizing with one another. In doing a more extensive literary review of the material on empathy in romantic relationships, I intend to learn more about this topic in more detail, and uncover intriguing insights like the one I mentioned above.

So what is empathy’s role in romantic relationships, and how can couple’s harness it in order to benefit their relationship?

I believe this is an important question, and answering it is necessary in order to improve upon and facilitate successful and satisfying relationships with our partners. I believe if people come to find empathy is a key component in relationship satisfaction, and light is shed on the ways it can improve their relationship, they will be motivated to place greater emphasis on maintaining a certain level of empathy for their partner through all relationship transgressions, as well as normal day to day interaction.


(Potential) Works Cited

Barnes, Sean, et al. “The Role of Mindfulness in Romantic Relationship Satisfaction and Responses to Relationship Stress.” Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, vol. 33, no. 4, 2007., pp. 482-500doi:10.1111/j.1752-0606.2007.00033.x.

Cohen, Shiri, et al. “Eye of the Beholder: The Individual and Dyadic Contributions of Empathic Accuracy and Perceived Empathic Effort to Relationship Satisfaction.” Journal of Family Psychology 26.2 (2012): 236. ProQuest. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.

Cramer, Duncan, and Sophia Jowett. “Perceived Empathy, Accurate Empathy and Relationship Satisfaction in Heterosexual Couples.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, vol. 27, no. 3, 2010., pp. 327-349doi:10.1177/0265407509348384.

Davis, Mark H., and H. A. Oathout. “Maintenance of Satisfaction in Romantic Relationships: Empathy and Relational Competence.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 53, no. 2, 1987., pp. 397-410doi:10.1037/0022-3514.53.2.397.

Google. “Cartoon Scientist.” Google: 2013. http://www.gll-getalife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/cartoon-scientists.jpg.

Kato, Tsukasa. “Effects of Partner Forgiveness on Romantic Break-Ups in Dating Relationships: A Longitudinal Study.” Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 95, 2016., pp. 185-189doi:10.1016/j.paid.2016.02.050.

Kimmes, Jonathan G., and Jared A. Durtschi. “forgiveness in Romantic Relationships: The Roles of Attachment, Empathy, and Attributions.” Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, vol. 42, no. 4, 2016., pp. 645doi:10.1111/jtuft.12171.

Péloquin, Katherine, Marie-France Lafontaine, and Audrey Brassard. “A Dyadic Approach to the Study of Romantic Attachment, Dyadic Empathy, and Psychological Partner Aggression.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, vol. 28, no. 7, 2011., pp. 915-942doi:10.1177/0265407510397988.

Péloquin, Katherine, and Marie-France Lafontaine. “Measuring Empathy in Couples: Validity and Reliability of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index for Couples.” Journal of Personality Assessment, vol. 92, no. 2, 2010., pp. 146-157doi:10.1080/00223890903510399.

Perrone-McGovern, Kristin M., et al. “Effects of Empathy and Conflict Resolution Strategies on Psychophysiological Arousal and Satisfaction in Romantic Relationships.” Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, vol. 39, no. 1, 2014., pp. 19-25doi:10.1007/s10484-013-9237-2.

Tartakovsky, Margarita. “The Power of Empathy in Romantic Relationships & How to Enhance It | World of Psychology.” World of Psychology. N.p., 10 June 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2016. <http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/06/08/the-power-of-empathy-in-romantic-relationships-how-to-enhance-it/>.

Tompkins, Cody. “Put Yourself In Their Shoes: Empathy For The Homeless.” Gannon University: 2016.

Ulloa, Emilio C., PhD., and Julia F. Hammett M.A. “The Role of Empathy in Violent Intimate Relationships.” Partner Abuse 7.2 (2016): 140-56. ProQuest. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.



110 thoughts on “Empathy in Romantic Relationships: A Research Proposal

  1. Empathy is important for all types of relationships from friendships to romantic relationships. Empathy allows the person to understand the other persona’s feelings. If there is something that isn’t making your partner happy empathy allows you to understand where your partner is coming from thus working out a solution to whatever the problem is.

  2. My grandma used to tell me so many times that I should pay more attention to this. She has a degree in psychology (interesting fact: now she became a writer and works for http://payforessays.blogspot.com/).
    According to her almost everything that we do every day contains empathy. That is impressive but we getting over and over dose of it so often … Just count once and you will quit.

  3. You know I can sort of relate to you on this one, and I’m a woman. From my own personal experiences, the guys that I have met and see in a daily bases never seem to attract me personality wise. I like someone who is easy going, good sense of humour, doesn’t really care what people think of themselves and isn’t materialistic. But so many guys I see care about popularity and status, it’s so hard to find the witty, intellegent yet compassionate guys that i am attracted to. Like you I think, does someone like that exsist and I give up hope. Anyway… Sorry for rambling but my point is that you should realise that although personal experiences may be causing you to loose it. Not all women are the same and look for the same things, I’m not sure how you think all women act but those thoughts have most likely came from your own experiences so don’t be too quick to generalise all women. One day you may find someone different.
    Also I’d like to add that if you look at things in more of a pessimistic way about women, then you most likely won’t ever find the one because you won’t give them the chance from assumptions. Sometimes when you get to know someone their real personality is revealed, maybe that robotic view you have of them is because you don’t know them well enough yet? Robotic is also an interesting way to describe them, all the women I am close to are far from robotic more you can read here https://onebookonebakersfieldonekern.com/

  4. Some people have no empathy because they have not experienced a normal level of love early in life. In that case, they can technically feel love, but they fear it, so they may shut it down or move on from relationships quickly to avoid it.

    But there are other reasons for low empathy – sometimes it is simply a personality trait – in which case you would expect them to feel love in a similar way to anyone else.

  5. wn life (Matthews).

    This is a very extreme case of something that unfortunately happens too often on social media. Personally I have been witness to more than my fair share of facebook fights and social media shaming’s, fortunately, none of which have lead to such tragic outcomes. However, witnessing it regularly makes you wonder why people are so unable or unwilling to empathize with people on the internet. P.J. Manney discuses in her article things like compassion fatigue, confirmation bias, and our willingness to demonize the “out group” limit o

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  9. Good post! I think that empathy is one of the most important abilities that help people understand each other. It is truly the heart of the relationship.
    Maybe it will be efficient for your next aricles to use paraphrase-online service. Being unable to process and re-formulate information from the sources fully is a big problem for students.

  10. About a month ago I was scrolling through my facebook when I saw this story that my friend had shared. It was about a teenage girl, Phoebe Connop, who took her own life out of fear of being attacked on social media for a picture she sent to friends in a private message. She was sixteen. In the photo she darkened her skin and covered her head with a scarf and sent it with a caption saying that this was the only way her new boyfriends parents were going to accept her. The photo was taken from the chat and shared on social media. After it received some negative attention she feared being deemed a racist and took her own life (Matthews).

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  19. order to do this, I intend to not only uncover the beneficial effects of empathy, but the harmful effects as well. For instance, it appears perceived empathy (believing one’s partner empathizes with them, or is trying to empath

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