How Power Affects Emotional Communication During Relationship Conflicts: The Role of Perceived Partner Responsiveness

M. Alonso-Ferres, F. Righetti, I. Valor-Segura, F. Expósito

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

© The Author(s) 2021.Prior research indicated that lack of power leads to emotional suppression and low emotional expression during conflicts among strangers. However, little is known about how power affects emotional inhibition in close relationships, where partners are highly interdependent, and achieving one’s goals greatly depends on their partner’s cooperation. In three studies among romantic couples (total N = 994), we examined whether (a) power is related to emotional inhibition during conflicts, (b) perceived partner responsiveness moderates this effect and, (c) which conflict-resolution responses are subsequently enacted. Findings consistently showed that powerless individuals were more likely to inhibit their emotions and consequently to use passive responses during conflicts. However, this only occurred when they perceived lack of responsiveness from their partner. If the partner was perceived as responsive (i.e., showed care, validation, and understanding), power was not related to emotional inhibition and passive resolutions. The importance of partner’s responses in relation to power asymmetry is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1203-1215
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Volume12
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2021

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