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Support Processes in Intimate Relationships$
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Kieran T. Sullivan and Joanne Davila

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195380170

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195380170.001.0001

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“I Know What You Need Right Now”: Empathic Accuracy and Support Provision in Marriage

“I Know What You Need Right Now”: Empathic Accuracy and Support Provision in Marriage

Chapter:
(p.71) chapter 3 “I Know What You Need Right Now”: Empathic Accuracy and Support Provision in Marriage
Source:
Support Processes in Intimate Relationships
Author(s):

Lesley L. Verhofstadt

William Ickes

Ann Buysse

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195380170.003.0003

This chapter investigates the hypothesis that a support provider’s level of empathic accuracy—that is, his or her ability to make accurate inferences about the support seeker’s thoughts and feelings—contributes to the likelihood of support providers offering effective and welcome support to their support-seeking spouse. In a laboratory study, 40 couples provided questionnaire data and participated in a social support interaction and video review task. As expected, greater empathic accuracy was associated with higher levels of instrumental support—which consists of concrete offers of assistance, advice, and suggestions to the support-seeker. Also as predicted, greater accuracy was related to lower levels of unhelpful, negative support. However, accuracy was not significantly related to emotional support—which includes reassuring, consoling, and encouraging the support-seeker.

Keywords:   couples, empathic accuracy, empathy, marriage, observational research, social support, support provision

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