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Women 'satisfied' when men get upset

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A new study suggests women react positively when their male partners get upset in an argument, because it indicates some level of investment in their relationship.

The survey from Harvard Medical School found that wives or girlfriends preferred negative emotion to indifference in situations of conflict.

The analysis of 156 heterosexual couples showed women reacted positively when they read their partner's negative emotions, and also when their partners recognised that they themselves were upset.

In direct contrast, the men studied did not react positively when they realised their other halves were upset.

"It could be that for women, seeing that their male partner is upset reflects some degree of the man's investment and emotional engagement in the relationship, even during difficult times," Dr Shiri Cohen, leading the study, told the Telegraph. "This is consistent with what is known about the dissatisfaction women often experience when their male partner becomes emotionally withdrawn and disengaged in response to conflict."

The study looked at a range of couples of different ages and backgrounds - most of whom were in long-term, committed relationships and some of whom were married. The couples varied in the way they reported solving arguments between themselves.

Couples surveyed were filmed alone and together, discussing an incident that made them unhappy or frustrated over the past few months.

Electronic devices and questionnaires were then used to rate their reactions as each person watched the recordings back.

The survey, published by the American Psychological Association, summarised that "men may be more satisfied in their relationships when they can accurately read their partners’ positive emotions, while women’s relationship satisfaction may uniquely benefit when they can accurately read their partners’ negative emotions."

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