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

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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.

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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.