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Exploring gender positions on emotional pain awareness, expression, and appraisal

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Title:
Exploring gender positions on emotional pain awareness, expression, and appraisal
Creator:
Werner, Donald F
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
viii, 75 leaves : ; 28 cm

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Subjects / Keywords:
Pain -- Sex differences ( lcsh )
Stress (Psychology) -- Sex differences ( lcsh )
Emotions and cognition ( lcsh )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 70-75).
Thesis:
Communication and theatre
Statement of Responsibility:
by Donald F. Werner.

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University of Colorado Denver
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|Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
41460708 ( OCLC )
ocm41460708
Classification:
LD1190.L48 1998m .W47 ( lcc )

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Full Text
EXPLORING GENDER POSITIONS ON EMOTIONAL PAIN
AWARENESS, EXPRESSION, AND APPRAISAL
B.A., Metropolitan State College of Denver, 1995
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Communication and Theatre
1998
By
Donald F. Werner


1998 by Donald F. Werner
All rights reserved.
11


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Donald F. Werner
has been approved
by
Michael Monsour
II-J-f8__________
Date
in


Werner, Donald F. (M.A., Communication and Theatre)
Exploring Gender Positions on Emotional Pain Awareness,
Appraisal, and Expression
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Michael Monsour
ABSTRACT
This research involves interviews of couples in a
marriage relationship. I have attempted to discover
gender positions of expression, appraisal, and awareness
of emotional pain. Each couple was interviewed first as
a couple, then as individuals. Data collected was
analyzed for information on each couples' expression,
awareness, and appraisal methods. A co-researcher was
present during all interviews for purposes of tape
machine functions, as well as the comfort and protection
of the participants. This information is felt to be
useful to other couples wishing to become more proficient
in these skills. Anticipated risks associated with this
study may involve some minor sense of discomfort in
answering some questions. Potential risk management
included an instruction prior to the interview requesting
IV


participants not to relate specific incidents from their
past that have the potential of bringing up unresolved
issues and therefore possible emotional pain. The
informed consent option of exiting the interview at any
time the participants may desire provides subjects with a
method of disengaging from any potential issues of
emotional pain that may cause undue discomfort or stress
risks.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the
candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication.
Signed
Michael Monsour
v


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION......................................1
Construct Definitions...........................1
Problem Statement...............................3
Thesis Development..............................3
2. LITERATURE REVIEW.................................5
Awareness.......................................5
Expression.....................................12
Appraisal......................................15
Benefits.......................................17
3. RESEARCH METHOD..................................20
Participant Demographics.......................21
Design and Procedures..........................22
Analysis.......................................25
4. THE RESULTS.....................................2 6
Interview 1....................................26
Demographics.............................2 6
Couple Interview..........................27
Individual Interviews....................2 9
Interviewer Observations..................29
vi


Interview 2...................................30
Demographics..............................30
Couple Interview..........................30
Individual Interviews.....................32
Interviewer Observations..................33
Interview 3...................................34
Demographics..............................34
Couple Interview..........................34
Individual Interviews....................3 6
Interviewer Observations................. 37
5. DISCUSSION......................................39
Interviews,...................................39
Couple 1..................................39
Couple 2..................................42
Couple 3..................................47
Overall Conclusion............................50
Critique......................................54
Strengths.................................54
Weaknesses................................55
Implications for Future Research..............57
APPENDIX
A. QUESTIONS (Individual)........................60
B. QUESTIONS (Couples)...........................62
VI1


C. INFORMED CONSENT FORM (Individual)............64
D. INFORMED CONSENT FORM (Couples)...............67
REFERENCES.................................................70
viii


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
The purpose of this study is to explore the
awareness, expression, and appraisal of emotional pain
and how these positions affect communication between
males and females in marriage relationships. Once
established and clarified, such information could become
of great value in the field of couples counseling and
communication by enhancing the understanding of what
facilitates healthy relationship communication in the
expression of emotional pain. The skills of recognizing
and appraising emotional pain, prior to the onset of
communication discourse, may ensure a more enjoyable
relationship.
Construct Definitions
This author has adopted the definition of emotion or
emotions as set forth by Salovey and Mayer (1989): "We
view emotions as organized responses, crossing the
boundaries of many psychological systems, including the
physiological, cognitive, motivational, and experimental
1


systems" (p. 186). In short, emotions affect people in
the physical, mental, and behavioral realms. Salovey and
Mayer explained that emotions have positive or negative
meanings, arising from both internal and external events.
These emotions then have a positive or negative affect
upon the bio-psycho-social mannerisms of those
experiencing the emotion. For the purposes of this
inquiry, pain is defined as an unpleasant sensation
occurring in varying degrees of severity and may be
experienced across the bounds of the bio-psycho-social
experience. Therefore this author refers to emotional
pain as an unpleasant sensation, occurring in varying
degrees of severity, arising either from an internal or
external event, and having an unpleasant effect on the
subject, as described by Goleman (1995). Further, this
author shall refer to the ability of the subjects to have
knowledge of such emotional pain in self or others as
awareness. This investigation also looked at an
individual's ability to communicate his/her emotional
pain upon his/her awareness in either or both nonverbal
or verbal fashion and refer to this, as expression.
Appraisal refers to the recognition of the derivation of,
2


evaluation of, and processing of information pertaining
to emotional pain within self or within another.
Problem Statement
Having better awareness of the existence of
emotional pain within one's self and partner would make
possible a more effective method of communication within
the marital relationship. The effective appraisal of
emotional pain could facilitate a strengthening in the
relationship. An awareness of emotional pain, such as
sorrow, grieving, or loss, and how it is expressed by the
partner could facilitate a more appropriate method of
communication such as compassion and empathy; thereby
improving the overall process of interpersonal
communication.
Thesis Development
In the development of this thesis, literature in the
area of emotional communication, physical pain, couples
relationships, and empathy were examined. While specific
areas of awareness, expression, and appraisal, were
reviewed, the benefits of emotional expression,
awareness, and appraisal was uncovered as a side issue in
3


several sources. While the benefits are not a specific
part of this investigation, a separate section addressing
these potential benefits are included and references to
benefits are referred to within the other sections. In
the following pages sections are devoted to the
literature pertaining to awareness, expression, and
appraisal, with general references to the benefits of
emotional communication included in each. I began with
awareness, and due to the lack of literature addressing
emotional pain directly, I specifically addressed
awareness of pain in general with inferences made to
awareness of emotional pain. Following that, I looked at
literature pertaining to expression, and finally
literature addressing appraisal.
4


CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
An initial review of literature was conducted
concerning male/female positions in the awareness and
expression of emotional pain. Literature in the area of
emotional pain and the awareness or expression of that
pain is sparse and spread across disciplinary approaches.
The need for further research into the area of emotional
pain awareness and expression is imperative for increased
understanding of these communication phenomena. A recent
attempt to provide a framework for research literature
referring to the studies of emotional awareness is found
within the literature on emotional intelligence (cf.
Salovey & Mayer, 1989), and while their work is a giant
step in centralizing emotional awareness research, there
is lots of room for more work to be done in this area.
Awareness
A large body of literature exists on issues
concerning individual differences in conjunction with
5


physical pain (e.g. Buckelew, Shutty, Hewett, Landon,
Morrow, & Frank, 1990), gender differences in
communication (e.g. Arliss, 1991; Tannen, 1994), and
aspects of relationship awareness (e.g. Berscheid, &
Peplau, 1983). Because emotions invoke physiological
responses, as does physical pain, an understanding of
male/female positions in awareness and expression of
physical pain can facilitate a better understanding of
the existence of differences in gender expression and
awareness during circumstances of emotional pain.
A close examination of the study of expression of
physical pain can contribute to the initial understanding
of male/female positions in awareness and expression of
emotional pain. Studies of differences in physical pain
can be divided into two basic groups: (a) Cultural
differences in pain perception (cf. Bates, Edwards, &
Anderson 1993), and (b) the aspects of gender differences
in the reporting of physical pain (cf. Lander, Fowler-
Kerry, & Hargreaves, 1989; Bush, Harkins, Harrington, &
Price, 1993).
In the area of physical pain perception, there
exists distinct individual differences dependent upon
various factors; the sex of the patient (cf. Calderone,
6


1990); the gender of the caregiver (cf. McCaffery, &
Ferrell, 1992); the sex of the researcher (cf. Levine, &
De Simone, 1991); as well as other factors such as locus
of health control (cf. Buckelew, Shutty, Hewett, Landon,
Morrow, & Frank, 1991); personality (cf. Otto, &
Dougher, 1985); and cultural differences (cf. Bates,
Edwards, & Anderson, 1993). All of these various factors
may also indicate differences in awareness, appraisal,
and expression of such pain.
Arliss (1991), addressed many aspects and
differences in male/female communication in the
expression of violence, eye contact, touching, language,
non-verbal behavior, and facial expressions. These are
all areas of communication useful in the expression of
pain. There are many studies on male/female
communication and differences therein. However, there is
a serious void in the literature with regard to the
expression of emotional pain between opposite-sex
partners and the awareness of such emotional pain in
one's spouse.
In reference to men and women and the different
words they use, Tannen (1991) wrote:
7


Intimacy is key in a world of connection where
individuals negotiate complex networks of
friendship, minimize differences, try to reach
consensus, and avoid the appearance of superiority,
which would highlight differences. In a world of
status, independence is key, because a primary means
of establishing status is to tell others what to do,
and taking orders is a marker of low status. Though
all humans need both intimacy and independence,
women tend to focus on the first and men on the
second. It is as if their life-blood ran in
different directions, (p. 26)
Tannen suggests that men, while being aware of
independency attributes, are less likely to be aware of
things that reinforce intimacy attributes; such as the
presence of emotional pain in either themselves or their
partner. The opposite being stereotypically
characteristic of women.
Summarizing the findings and general knowledge of
male/female positions in communication, there are many
aspects of communication in which the sexes differ in
communication styles and approaches. These positions
have long been known to affect the quality of the
8


communication, especially among married couples (cf.
Acitelli, 1992; Gray, 1992 Noller, 1993;).
In reference to relationship awareness, Acitelli
(1992) reported that "... wives talked more about their
relationship than husbands did" (p.107), and that for
wives, relationship satisfaction was directly related to
relationship talk and the degree of husbands'
relationship talk; while the same was not found to be
true as far as husbands reported. This has been widely
accepted throughout both existing literature on
communication and general knowledge among those
interested in communication proficiency (e.g. Flor, Turk,
& Rudy, 1989). Acitelli went on to write that "spouses
who are high in relationship awareness may have the skill
to resolve conflicts smoothly and contribute to a happy
marriage" (p. 108). Implied within Acitelli's statement
is that partners who have high relationship skills are
more inclined to recognize emotional pain both within
themselves as well as their partners. Also implied by
the specific reference to "spouses", is that either the
male or the female may be the spouse with high
relationship skills.
9


Noller (1993) contends that "husbands in unhappy
marriages have difficulty decoding emotional messages
from their wives ... [this] suggests that the stress in
the relationship affects their performance in even quite
basic communication tasks" (p. 149). A husband's
inability to decode emotional messages sets up the
potential for a downward spiral of relationship harmony
that could begin with the presence of emotional pain in
one partner that, when not recognized or attended to,
sets up the stress that furthers the decay of the
relationship, referred to by Noller. In discovering the
root of the problem, misperceived emotional pain, couples
can begin to improve the skills necessary to reverse the
downward cycle and initiate a growth cycle in the
relationship. Goleman (1995), contended that emotions
are contagious and that the contagion takes place
primarily through the imitation of nonverbal emotional
cues. Goleman further noted that the transfer of an
emotional state generally goes from the person more
expressive of emotions to the less expressive person.
Gray (1992) contended that "when men become upset,
they tend to become judgmental of women and women's
feelings" (p. 206). Gray points out that men find it
10


more difficult to be supportive and nurturing after
incurring negative feelings in communication, while under
the same circumstances women find it hard to be trusting
and show appreciation. Markman (1994) contended that
negative interpretations of the other person's state of
mind or intentions is one root cause of the initial
destruction of a relationship. In my literature review I
found a potential set up for the downward cycle that
threatens the harmony within good relationships. I
contention that with more awareness and appraisal of
emotional pain in self and in the other, this downward
spiral could be reversed and redirected into building
better relationships. Such information can most
effectively be ascertained by means of qualitative
research and is the motivation behind this research.
Information gathered in the area of relationship
awareness supports the idea that there are distinct
male/female functional differences in the awareness of
relationship threatening conditions. Recognizing these
differences in awareness within relationships, while
specifically noting the many areas of communication
differences, one can draw three conclusions from the
research on relationship awareness: First, in reference
11


to physical pain perception, there are many individual
differences that play a role in the perception of pain
(cf. Bates, Edwards, Fowler-Kerry, & Hargreaves, 1989;
Bush, Harkins, Harrington, & Price, 1993). Second, there
are many male/female differences in communication between
men and women (cf. Acitelli, 1992; Gray, 1992; Noller,
1993; Tannen, 1991). Third, when relationship awareness
is examined, differences in gender approach to
relationship issues exist (cf. Acitelli, 1992; Flor,
Turk, & Rudy, 1989; Gray, 1992). Individual differences
in general pain perception are compounded by the general
differences in communication styles between males and
females. These communication differences could not only
lead to an inaccurate awareness of pain sensation in
general, but it is also apparent that the differences in
inter-gender relationship awareness exaggerates the
effects of each. With this in mind, this study is
designed to survey a small sample to determine
possibilities for future research.
Expression
Voluminous publications in the popular press exist
attributing a greater degree of emotional expression to
12


the female sex, (e.g., Gray, 1992; Tannen, 1994), yet in
contrast Brody, and Hall (1993) suggest that gender
differences are a product of social pressures such as
family, peers, and society. They further indicated that
stereotypical emotional responses, and attributes
thereof, may in fact be simply "...self-fulfilling
prophecies" (p. 447). Graham, and Ickes (1997)
reiterated this concern in reference to self reported
gender differences in regards to empathy, pointing out
that gender differences may be the result of
"...appropriate gender role behavior" (p. 121) Graham,
and Ickes go on to point out that in reviewing 14 studies
addressing gender differences in emotional communication,
conducted by Eisenberg, and Lennon in 1983 (as cited in
Graham and Ickes 1997), "...no significant gender
differences were found" (p. 121). Scotland, Mathews,
Sherman, Hansson, and Richardson (1978) addressed gender
differences in emotional communication earlier,
concluding that differences in emotional expressiveness
may reflect women choosing a more socially acceptable
response in order to conform with traditional gender
roles. With regard to empathy and the interpretation of
expressive emotional cues, Lennon and Eisenberg (1987)
13


state that "...gender differences in empathy may be an
artifact of the method of measurement", (p. 203), and
that these differences could be a result of "... the type
of vicarious emotion assessed" (p. 203). The reviews by
Scotland et al, (1978), Graham, & Ickes, (1997), and
Lennon, & Eisenberg, (1987), while not inclusive of all
studies, do tend to exemplify the conclusions of a
representative sampling of such studies and suggest the
need for more in-depth studies intended to clarify these
issues. Gottman and Carrere (1994) suggested that we
need "...to take a proactive look at how genders are
separately socialized with respect to emotion, and how
they are segregated by sex" (p. 226). My intention with
this study is an attempt to reveal alternative approaches
for future research to follow.
Burgoon (1996) stated that women, when looking at
non-verbal cues and especially facial cues used to impart
intent, are more skilled than men. However, Graham and
Ickes in a 1997 review of 10 studies pertaining to non-
verbal advantages found "...virtually no evidence that
women are better than men..." in making inferences based on
non-verbal cues (p. 140). Burgoon (1996) also noted that
women are less likely to have an advantage in the
14


expression or detection of deceptive or incongruous cues.
Buller and Burgoon (1998) point out that expressively
skilled emotional message senders are more successful at
deception and skilled emotional receivers, or appraisers,
are better at detecting deception.
Appraisal
Lazarus (1991) directed attention to the importance
of accurate appraisal of emotional communication in the
following list of benefits to be gained from accurate
appraisal: (1) Emotions tell us the relationship between
a person and the ongoing relationship between that person
and his/her environment, (2) discovery of things
important and unimportant to others in regards to life
events or events happening around them, (3) we can
discover many things about that person and his/her core
beliefs, values, and attitudes, and (4) we can learn how
a person has evaluated an encounter in terms of that
persons well being (pp. 22-23) .
Accurate appraisal of emotional messages received
leads the receiver to an empathic posture, that is an
understanding of others' internal or psychological state
of mind at that moment. Thomas and Fletcher (1997)
15


informed the reader that empathic accuracy, the result of
emotional appraisal, involves an understanding of the
emotional states of another, without need for response to
the emotional state. Several studies reviewed by
Eisenberg, Murphy, and Shepard (1997) in their chapter
titled "The Development of Empathic Accuracy", indicated
that empathic accuracy begins at a very early age and
continues to develop over the life time. These authors
found that gender differences in empathic accuracy
favored females in terms of interpretation of facial
expressions but not expressions of anger. Conclusions
were drawn indicating the effects of socialization and
stereotypical expectations, Brody, Hall, Maltz & Borker
reviews (as cited in Eisenberg, Murphy, & Shepard, 1997).
Lazarus (1991), discussed appraisal in two modes, primary
and secondary; primary appraisal being those emotional
messages that are immediately relevant to the individual,
while secondary appraisal involves emotional messages
that are more future oriented.
Howell (1982) condensed the challenges of accurate
appraisals in his discussion of perception and
"perception is meaning" (p. 48). Howell noted a commonly
held concept: receivers place meaning on communication
16


received even though that meaning may not be the intended
message. Acknowledging this communication phenomenon,
the importance of accuracy improvement in emotional
appraisal becomes of greater interest.
Benefits
While the benefits of emotional communication or
accuracy of appraisal, expression, or awareness of
communication of emotional pain were not a primary in
research interest, the review of many studies referenced
such benefits and therefore I have chosen to include a
sampling of those studies.
Foundational to the understanding of the benefits of
emotional communication is an understanding of where
emotions are felt, received, or stored in the body. Pert
(1997) has recently published ground-breaking research
revealing a new understanding of emotions and the
cellular structures of the brain and mind. With the
discovery of new information surrounding peptides and
other informational substances and biochemicals of
emotions and their distribution throughout the body, Pert
has concluded that "the body is the unconscious mind" (p.
141). Scientists have held that emotions are stored in
17


memory within the mind, then these memories are called
upon for reaction as needed (cf. Goleman, 1995, LeDoux,
1996, Pert, 1997). Pert (1997) addressed the benefits of
effective emotional communication in this way; "Repressed
trauma caused by overwhelming emotion can be stored in a
body part, thereafter affecting our ability to feel that
part or even move it [the body part]" (p. 141). Viscott
(1996) concluded that there are two basic feelings,
pleasure and pain. Further Viscott categorized pain into
three stages, past, present, and future. Past pain is
felt as anger, present pain as hurt, and future pain as
anxiety. Viscott also informed the reader that ..."anger,
(past pain), directed inward becomes guilt" (p. 71).
Leventhal and Patrick-Miller (1993) concluded that
"Emotional states appear to play a causal role in the
generation of illness, and illness plays a role in the
generation of emotion" (p 373). This apparent spiral of
affect may be positively influenced by skilled emotional
communication, an affect of remarkable advantage to those
possessing those skills.
Saarni (1993) inferred the beneficial affects of
effective emotional communication skills in the following
explanation of emotional expression; "Emotional
18


expression is meaningful and informative to the
interactants, and emotional experience permits the verbal
description and exchange of emotional processes in
others" (p. 438) In his 1994 book, "Why Marriages
Succeed or Fail", Gottman pointed out that the balance
between positive and negative emotional expression is a
"key dynamic" in "emotional ecology" (p. 64). Gottman
concluded there are "...crucial rates of emotional
exchange" (p. 64). The conclusion of this researcher,
based on this sampling of studies, is that improved
emotional communication skills translate into a potential
overall health improvement. In the next chapter I have
described and explained the research methods used in this
research.
19


CHAPTER 3
RESEARCH METHOD
Due to the complexity of the data in this study and
the exploratory nature of this research, quantitative
methods of measurement were not applicable (Marshal and
Rossman (1998). Therefore, a qualitative design using
in-depth interviews was chosen as the approach. The in-
depth interview process of inquiry was chosen because of
the ability to collect large amounts of reliable data
quickly through this process. The ability to further
probe the answers given, combined with the observation of
any non-verbal cues, provided more clarity in terms of
future research direction. The information obtained was
used to determine the need for future study and
recommendations for the direction of such research. The
research employed a qualitative study using an
ethnographic approach. All participants and their spouse
were asked to participant in one interview with the
researchers. These interviews were approximately one
hour in length. Prior to the taped interview,
participants were briefed on the procedure to be
20


followed and asked to sign an informed consent form (see
appendix D). Any questions they had following this
briefing were answered. These interviews were conducted
following a list of open ended questions,(see appendix
B), designed to illicit information to further the
purpose of this research. Within 24 hours following the
initial interview, (couples together in same interview),
each participant was interviewed separately, for
approximately the same amount of time. The individuals
were briefed on the second interview, allowing for any
questions, followed by the interview using a second set
of questions (see appendix A) designed to clarify and
deepen previous responses. This approach effectively
provides nine sets of data for analysis. Following the
final interviews, the participants were debriefed, first
individually, then as a couple, at which time any further
questions were answered.
Participant Demographics
The participants of this study were married
heterosexual couples 21 years of age or older.
Participant selection was made from couples married two
years or longer and known by this researcher. Six
21


individuals (three couples) were asked to participate in
interviews described in the following section on
methodology. Subjects received no pay for their
participation and were assured of their anonymity.
Design and Procedures
Due to the lack of preceding studies specifically
addressing the aspects of communication of emotional pain
in married couples a qualitative interview design was
employed. Marshall and Rossman (1989) argue that due to
the explorative nature and the ability to identify
unanticipated outcomes, the qualitative study is best
suited for exploratory inquiry. Therefore, in-depth
interviewing was chosen as the design.
Materials consisted of a list of open-ended
questions designed to provide the interviewer the
direction which the interview should take dependent upon
answers given by the subject being interviewed.
Therefore some follow-up questions were asked of all the
subjects while not all subjects were asked all the
questions. While the order in which the questions were
presented was generally adhered to, for purposes of
maintaining continuity between the question and
22


subsequent answer, the follow up questions may have been
presented out of the order presented here. The interview
protocol is set forth in appendix A and B.
The interviews were conducted in the living or
family rooms of the couple being interviewed. Placed
upon a table were; a tape recorder, three pads of paper
and three pencils. One pad and one pencil were available
for each subject to use as desired, the other, pad and
pencil were used by the interviewer for note taking. The
seating arrangement of the participant(s) and
interviewers were arranged to encourage an atmosphere of
casual warmth in order to encourage more communication
freedom, while the structure of the interview was more
formal. The subjects were told what the interview would
entail and that they were not limited by a minimum or a,
maximum interview time. Each subject read and signed the
informed consent form (couples appendix D), after
questions concerning the interview were answered.
The interviews began with the first question from
the interview protocol and continued through the
questions, the order was dependent upon each individual's
response. Follow-up probes were made as needed to
clarify any ambiguities in their answers. Careful notes
23


were taken on non-verbal communication that accompanied
the verbal responses. Interviews lasted more than 30
minutes and less than 1 hour and 15 minutes. The time
per interview was dependent upon the individual's depth
of answers and a sense of feeling finished with the
interview. Interviews were tape recorded for later use
so the flow of the interview was not inhibited by having
to write down extensive notes. The same procedure was
followed the next day interviewing each person separately
using questions from appendix A. They were told they
could inquire as to the overall results. Participants
were also told the researcher would not disclose anything
about their personal indications. After the interviews
were finished the tapes were reviewed and information
transcribed on paper for use in this study. Following
the interview data were compiled, following guidelines
set forth by Saville-Troike in "The Ethnography of
Communication" (1995). An attempt was made to determine
the existence of male/female differences in awareness,
appraisal, and the expression of emotional pain.
Tapes were carefully replayed within 24 hours of the
original interview to make comparative notes between non-
verbal and verbal responses. Then the tapes were played
24


again to code any common responses or reactions to the
questions. These responses and reactions were then
grouped, by this researcher and research assistant,
according to generally similar themes and further
categorized into more specific areas of response. Data
were then compiled and from this compilation results were
interpreted in reference to gender positions in the
awareness, expression, and appraisal of emotional pain as
reported in this subject sampling.
Analysis
As soon as possible after conducting the interviews,
tape recordings were transcribed onto paper. Following
transcription, the information gained was coded into
categories of common responses and reactions. This data
were then compiled and interpreted in reference gender
positions in the awareness, expression, and appraisal of
emotional pain as reported in this subject sampling. In
the next chapter I examine the results of these data and
make conclusions and observations.
25


CHAPTER 4
RESULTS
For purposes of analysis and discussion, the results
of this research is presented in terms of the interviewed
couples as C(l), C(2), and C(3); indicating interview 1,
2, and 3 respectively. The following indices refer to
the individual interviewees: Males of each interview is
referred to as, M(l), M(2), and M(3); indicating
interview 1, 2, and 3 respectively. Females of each
interview are referred to as, F(l), F(2), and F(3),
indicating interview 1, 2, and 3 respectively. During
all interviews, some very intimate information was
revealed. I have elected to exclude examples of very
intimate content and have chosen only specific examples
indicative of the overall individual conversations.
Interview 1
Demographics
The couple in the first interview were married in
their early twenties, now in their early thirties, and in
their first marriage of 10 years.
26


On a three point scale with satisfactory being the
highest point followed by complacency and then
dissatisfactory, this couple rated their relationship as
satisfactory. The couple interview lasted for 60 minutes
and the individual interviews were approximately 30
minutes in length.
Couple Interview
Overall the female initiated the responses to
questions prior to any remarks made by the male. She
continually observed the male for confirmation during her
responses. Furthermore, during all the female responses,
the male continually provided both verbal and non-verbal
positive support cues, such as head nodding or "uh huh"
or other short verbal confirmations of response accuracy.
In addition, the male also added single sentence
clarifications or confirmations of what the female said
after each of her responses. In responses to describing
how they see themselves expressing emotional pain, they
agreed the most important thing when expressing emotional
pain was to choose the appropriate place and time in
order for a full and in-depth discussion of the emotional
issue at hand. Examples: F(l): "We kinda wait until the
27


late evening or bed time to discuss any emotional
problems that happened during the day."; M(l): "Yeah we
like to have plenty of time to talk things through."
In response to the difference in expression between
physical and emotional pain, they jointly agreed that
attending to the expression of physical pain took
precedence over the expression of emotional pain in that
physical pain is immediately expressed. Both F(l) and
M(1) agreed that they perceived the initial displays of
physical pain verbally, while initial displays of
emotional pain were perceived through eye contact and
displays of non-verbal facial cues. These cues alert
them to the need for emotional expression and disclosure
at a later time. Additionally, they saw no difference in
the affect displays between each other.
The only additional comment following the joint
interview was made by the male. He stated: "Ya know I
really don't understand why people go get all these self
help books about relationships. After all I figure that
there isn't anyone more knowledgeable about what's goin'
on between [F(1)J and me, other than the two of us."
28


Individual Interviews
During both individual interviews no new information
was disclosed beyond what was reported in their joint
interview. Both researchers noticed a decline in the
overall willingness to disclose further information
beyond their joint interview. The following examples are
indicative of most every response in the individual
interviews. F(l): "Oh we kinda talked about that before,
didn't we?"; M(l): "Didn't we already cover that?" All
other responses in the individual interviews were simply
redundancies of the responses from the joint interview.
Interviewer Observations
From both the non-verbal as well as the verbal
communication perspective, the researchers observed that
this couple had apparently previously discussed their
positions concerning the awareness, expression, and
appraisal, of their emotions with each other. However,
the interviewers felt that due to the hesitancy in
answering some questions and the limited disclosure
during the individual interviews, this couple was not
comfortable or accustomed to disclosing their emotional
information outside of the relationship.
29


Interview 2
Demographics
The second couple were married in their mid
thirties, are now in their early fifties and in their
second marriages, married for 15 years. On a three point
scale with satisfactory being the highest point followed
by complacency and then dissatisfactory, this couple
rated their relationship as dissatisfactory. The couple
interview lasted for 45 minutes, and the individual
interviews were approximately 35 minutes in length.
Couple Interview
During the course of this interview both researchers
noticed a willingness on the part of the male to defer
the first, or opening, response to the female being
interviewed. Virtually no efforts were made on the part
of this female to visually ascertain agreement or
disagreement from M{2) during or following her responses
to our questions. On the other hand, the few responses
that were initiated by M(2) included eye contact with
F{2) as responses were given.
In response to the expression of emotional pain,
F(2) said: "He never says anything to me, he just shuts
30


down. I try to tell him how I'm feeling all the time but
he never listens, but I keep tryin'F{2) went on to
say: "I try to get him to talk to me about himself, but
he won't do that either. Sometimes I wonder why I even
try."
In reference to the difference of expressions of
physical verses emotional pain, overall this couple saw
no differences. For example, F{2) stated: "I never know
how he is feeling physically or emotionally, he doesn't
tell me." M(2) stated: "I don't need to complain about
every little thing that goes on. [F(2)] is always
complaining, so I don't have much room to complain."
Brackets used to maintain anonymity.
In reference to how one sees the other in terms of
displaying emotional pain, both jokingly observed that
[F(2)] displayed enough emotional pain for the two of
them. However, F(2) commented that she "wished that
[M(2)] would share his emotional pain with me, I never
know what's going on in there, (indicating M(2)'s head)."
The only additional comment at the end of our research
questions was made by F(2) when she stated: "I could fall
off a cliff or completely lose my mind and [M(2)3
wouldn't even notice."
31


Individual Interviews
In reference to the individual interview with F(2),
no new information was gained. Although F(2) was
continually expressive, the interview simply served to
reiterate her statements from the joint interview
conducted the previous day.
The individual interview with M(2) provided
extensively more information than what he disclosed in
the joint interview. During the individual interview
with M{2) he stated: "I've tried to understand what is
going on with her but it seems I'm never right and I
catch holly /*// for not knowing. I've given up." M(2)
disclosed during the individual interview that he was
only able to share many of his emotions while having a
drink at the VFW. Upon further disclosure during this
interview, M(2) stated his reluctance to share his
deepest emotions and emotional pains when he asserted:
"There are many things about Vietnam that {F{2)] doesn't
understand. I saw some things over there that only other
guys that were there could know and understand. I told
you I've tried, but {F{2)] doesn't get it."
Additionally, M{2) discussed the fact that he feels
partially responsible for F{2)'s negative emotions
32


towards the relationship. M(2) admitted that the more
F(2) talks about her negative emotions in the
relationship, the worse he feels; the worse he feels, the
less he talks. For example: "I can't even handle my own
stuff most of the time and then she tells me she isn't
happy and I feel like it's my fault 'cause she expects me
to handle her stuff too."
Interviewer Observations
Due to the level of willing public disclosure with
these researchers, this couple appears to have confronted
these issues of emotion not only within their
relationship, but also with others who are willing to
listen to disclosure of these emotional issues. Even
though some of the information disclosed during the joint
interview was somewhat confrontational, neither
individual appeared shocked, surprised or distressed by
the content of the disclosures. The statements in the
interviews came in a "matter of fact" way.
33


Interview 3
Demographics
The third couple was married in their late forties,
are now in their early fifties and in their second
marriages, married for 4 years. On a three point scale
with satisfactory being the highest point followed by
complacency and then dissatisfactory, this couple rated
their relationship as complacency. The couple interview
lasted for 35 minutes and the individual interviews were
approximately 15 minutes in length.
Couple Interview
During this interview, the male answered most of the
questions first, and without eye contact with the female.
On the few occasions when the female answered the
question first, she simultaneously looked to the male for
an apparent non-verbal confirmation during her answer.
The male did volunteer non-verbal confirmations on most
of those occasions.
In reference to the expression of emotional pain,
M(3) felt that F(3) was quite emotionally expressive.
Evidence of this is shown when M(3) stated: "[F(3)] can .
cry at the drop of a hat." Conversely, F(3) felt that
34


M(3) had a tendency to not verbally discuss his emotions,
particularly if the emotions were deeply held and
apparently quite painful. This evidence is seen in the
statement of F(3) when she said: "Sometimes I just know
there is something really wrong but he can't tell me and
all I can do is give him a long hug." M(3) concluded
that the expression of emotional pain can be simply dealt
with through close physical contact. For example, M(3)
stated: "Sometimes I just think that all she needs is
just to be held. I don't know, I know it works for me."
In reference to the perceived difference between
physical and emotional pain, reference was made to the
need to attend to physical pain with more urgency than
the emotional pain. This was evidenced by the following
remark made by both, almost simultaneously: "At our ages
we really gotta pay attention to the physical stuff."
In regards to the expression of emotional pain
displays in the other, the researchers observed that the
couple felt emotional displays were somewhat obvious,
relying on the overt clues of crying and physical touch.
Evidence of this is seen in the remark by M(3): "I guess
we just know what it means when I need a hug and she
needs to cry."
35


All other questions appeared to come back to the
need for crying or hugging without the need for much
verbal communication as to the specifics of the emotional
state. Apparently this couple shares the view that it is
not as important to know the particulars concerning the
need for emotional expression, but simply to attend to
that need.
An additional comment at the end of the interview
was made by M(3). He indicated that he felt that the
purpose of this research was pretty irrelevant because
for him it seemed fairly obvious when someone was in
emotional pain, and "the details of that pain don't
necessarily need to be talked about." This comment was
followed by silence from F(3).
Individual Interviews
Much like the individual interviews of C(l), little
disclosure and differing information was gained during
the individual interviews of C(3). In the individual
interview, F(3) reinforced and essentially repeated
everything that was discussed in the interview the day
before. However, we were unable to ascertain whether or
not those were her own thoughts and feelings or simply a
36


parroting of her husband's assessments of how things
should be. The researchers felt that full disclosure of
her personal opinion was not forthcoming. M(3) appeared
somewhat anxious and irritated during the individual
interview, repeating and reinforcing only what he had
stated in the joint interview.
Interviewer Observations
These interviewers observed that the interchanges
between this couple appeared to be orchestrated primarily
by the male, in a rigid format involving physical
comforting, the appropriateness of that physical
comforting in times of emotional need, and the need for
little or no verbal discourse at those times. Possibly
due to the lack of verbal discourse concerning emotional
issues, it does not appear that this couple has developed
a joint assessment of handling emotional issues. F(3)
often sought information and clarity from M(3) about his
answers to our questions. However, she offered no
original opinions or insights concerning our questions or
M (3)' s answers.
In summary, I found the responses of each couple to
be of such difference that no generalizations could be
37


made. Within each couple, differences were such that
even stereotypical generalizations could not be made.
The only possible generalization that could be made is
that each couple seemed to have previously arrived at an
agreement as to how emotionally painful issues would be
handled within their respective relationship. In the
next chapter I discuss the findings in detail and draw
conclusions.
38


Chapter 5
DISCUSSION
In discussing the results, I initially examined each
couple's responses in respect to their joint interview
and individual interviews. Within the discussion of each
couple, positions on awareness, expression, and appraisal
are examined using the literature reviewed and
operational definitions as points of examination. Then a
resulting conclusion is drawn for each couple. An
overall conclusion for all couples with a reference table
is presented. With respect to the information previously
discussed in this section, a critique of the strengths
and weaknesses encountered in this research is addressed.
Finally, a discussion of the implications for future
research concerning gender positions in the communication
of emotional pain is presented.
Interviews
Couple 1
Awareness. Awareness was defined as the ability of
one person, (the subject), to have knowledge of
39


emotional pain in self or in spouses and others,
(Goleman, 1995).
Adhering to this definition of awareness, I find
that couple(1) reported what they perceived as an equal
capability to recognize emotional pain within each other.
This claim by couple(1) is supported by the findings of
Acitelli (1992), wherein individuals who have high
relationship skills are more inclined to have awareness
of emotional pain. At the same time, information found
in the reports of couple(1) can also be logically
contrary to statements from Acitelli's work. Such a
contradiction would arise in reference to the female
having more awareness of relationship issues. In fact,
we observed both the male and the female shared nearly
equal amounts of awareness in relationship issues. My
general findings on awareness pertaining to couple(1) is
that awareness of emotional pain was not problematic in
their relationship and both individuals were satisfied
with their degree of awareness.
Expression. The definition of expression adopted
for this research is the individual's ability to
communicate his/her emotional pain upon his/her awareness
in either or both non-verbal or verbal fashion.
40


Couple(1) reported a satisfactory ability in both
verbal and non-verbal expression of emotional pain as
evidenced through the discussion of their own
experiences. These findings challenge Graham and Ickes
(1997) and Scotland et al, (1978) with reference to males
and females conforming to traditional gender roles
stereotypically set forth pertaining to emotional
expression. Couple(1) appeared to have developed their
own norms concerning their roles within their
relationship, uninfluenced by traditional societal norms.
Appraisal. Appraisal defined as the ability to
recognize the derivation, evaluation, and processing of
information pertaining to emotional pain within self or
within another.
Couple(1) reported satisfactory levels of appraisal
of emotional pain and reported the lack of problems
experienced in this area of communication. This couple
avoided the unintended meanings of the receiver, meanings
not intended by the sender as referred to by Howell
(1982), in setting aside time to verbalize their
emotional difficulties. These findings agree with Thomas
and Fletcher (1997) in terms of the necessity to
understand the emotional states of another in order to be
41


more accurate in the appraisal of the emotional needs of
another.
Conclusion. Both individuals have high relationship
skills. As a couple# they developed their own method of
expression within the confines of their relationship.
Misunderstanding in the appraisal of emotional needs
rarely occurred due to this couple's ability to reach an
agreement on how to best achieve understanding in their
relationship.
A summary of the overall rating in the three
categories of awareness# expression# and appraisal of
couple(1) can be found in the table 5.1 in the overall
conclusion on pg. [53].
Couple 2
Awareness. Again in review# awareness was defined
as the ability of one person# (the subject)# to have
knowledge of emotional pain in self or in others
(Goleman, 1995)
In relation to the awareness of emotional pain as
reported by C(2)# I found F(2) reporting a lack of
awareness to the emotional pain of M(2). M(2) also
reported that F(2)# by way of her willingness to over
42


express# perhaps does not allow M(2) the opportunity to
become aware of her emotional needs prior to her
expression of them. An association was found here
between the reports of C(2) and Tannen (1991) with
respect to intimacy needs in females and the need for
independence in males. F(2) endeavors to engage M(2) in
conversation/ a sign of seeking intimacy in females;
while M(2)/ in not engaging in conversation about his
needs, takes an independent position within the
relationship. Also, in reference to Noller's (1993)
contention that addressed happiness within a marriage
being related to the ability to code/decode emotional
messages, this couple not only clearly expressed
dissatisfaction in their relationship, but attributed
this dissatisfaction to their joint inability to be aware
of each other's emotional needs.
Expression. The definition of expression adopted
for this research is the individual's ability to
communicate his/her emotional pain upon his/her awareness
in either or both non-verbal or verbal fashion.
Couple(2) reported great difficulties in this area
of communication. F(2) reported M(2) was reticent about
the expression of emotional pain. At the same time, M(2)
43


reported F(2) was overly expressive of her emotional
pain. Therefore both F(2) and M(2) reported
dissatisfaction in this area of emotional communication.
This finding concurs with Graham and Ickes (1997) and
Scotland et al. (1978) with reference to traditional
gender roles wherein the female is very expressive and
the male maintain silence.
Appraisal. Appraisal is defined as the ability to
recognize the derivation/ evaluation, and processing of
information pertaining to emotional pain within self or
within another.
Appraisal of the partner's emotional pain was seen
as problematic within couple(2). Both reported
dissatisfaction in their ability to accurately appraise
the other person's emotional state. Here again we find a
relationship between this couples report and the
findings of Thomas and Fletcher (1997) with respect to
understanding and accuracy. Silence and over expression
does not enable effective understanding, as was evidenced
by the experiences of couple(2). Howell (1982) suggested
that accurate appraisal is critical in understanding the
intended meaning of communication. M(2) disclosed in the
individual interview that he was trying to protect F(2)
44


from his past pain experience and felt that his silence
was the way to protect her. And yet with his silence,
F(2) was clearly unable to make an accurate appraisal of
M(2)'s emotional needs. In fact she attributed his
silence to anger, perhaps even anger directed towards her
need to achieve intimacy through communication. Viscott
(1996) suggested that past emotions are manifested
through anger. M(2)'s withholding certain emotional
expressions, F(2) is unaware of the causes for his
emotions in which she sees only anger. Lazarus (1991)
addressed primary/secondary appraisal which becomes
relevant to this case as F(2) feels she is unable to get
beyond the primary appraisal stage with M(2) in order to
attempt to work with secondary appraisal: future anxiety.
The end result is the shut down of emotional appraisal on
the part of F(2), and the subsequent shut down of
emotional expression by M(2).
Conclusion. I suggest that the adherence to
traditional gender roles in communication events was the
primary reason this couple had difficulties in all three
categories of emotional communication. In awareness, the
over disclosure of F(2) gave M(2) little opportunity to
become aware of F(2)'s emotional state. In addition,
45


F(2)'s over zealousness to communicate her emotional
needs left her with little opportunity to become aware of
M(2)'s emotional needs.
Due to the adherence of their gender roles/ this
couple also experienced emotional expression
difficulties. The over expressed emotional state of F(2)
left little opportunity for M(2) to express his emotional
needs adequately. This lack of expression appeared to
F(2) to be a sign of M(2)'s independence within the
relationship. However, M(2) explained in the follow-up
individual interview, that his need for independence in
this category of expression was due to his prior
emotional experience in Vietnam that he felt F(2) was
incapable of understanding.
Appraisal for this couple was problematic because
the difficulty in awareness and expression of emotional
needs for both M(2) and F(2) created misunderstandings
and inaccuracies within the relationship communication.
This further complicated any attempt by either individual
to repair the relationship at the emotional level.
This couple's overall rating in the three categories
of awareness, expression, and appraisal is summarized in
table 5.1 in the overall conclusion section on pg. [53]. 1
46


Couple 3
Awareness. Emotional awareness is defined as the
ability of one person, (the subject), to have knowledge
of emotional pain in self or in others, (Goleman, 1995).
Couple(3) reported general satisfaction in awareness
of emotional pain. They specified that they use the
overt cues of crying and touch in order to make their
partner aware of emotional difficulties. This directly
contradicts Tannen (1991) in reference to the traditional
roles of intimacy and independence; both the male and the
female sought the intimate types of cues in their ability
to become aware.
Expression. The definition of expression is the
individual's ability to communicate his/her emotional
pain upon his/her awareness in either or both non-verbal
or verbal fashion.
Couple(3) reported general complacency with respect
to emotional expression. While F(3) is reported to cry
as an emotional expression, M(3) reported that emotional
expression is best served by close physical contact. For
the female this confirms the findings set forth by Graham
and Ickes (1997) and Scotland et al. (1978) with regard
47


to conforming to traditional gender roles. However, M(3)
contradicts his gender role by seeking relational
comfort. This is perhaps explained by Golemans' (1995)
contagion theory of emotions in which I found that the
more expressive emotional state, (typically female),
transferred to the person of lesser emotional expression,
(typically male). Even though in the interview the
predominate speaker was M(3), F(3) may be the dominate
partner in expression and her dominate inmate expression
transfers to M(3). Although differing in the mode of
expression, couple(3) approached the expression of
emotional pain with a general sense of complacency in
that the expression of emotional pain was "obvious."
Appraisal. Appraisal is defined as the ability to
recognize the derivation, evaluation, and processing of
information pertaining to emotional pain within self or
within another.
Couple(3) reported a mixed assessment of appraisal
between M(3) and F(3). F(3) reported a general sense of
complacency toward appraisal. She indicated that M(3)'s
appraisal ability was just "OK" the way it was and she
didn't offer an opinion as to whether M(3)'s appraisal
ability should be more or less participatory. While M(3)
48


reported general satisfaction in F(3)'s appraisal of his
emotional needs, he saw little importance for emotional
appraisal beyond the expression of crying and touch; M(3)
thought the expression of crying and touch in and of
itself was enough for the handling of emotional events.
According to Lazarus (1991), accurate appraisal of
emotional communication allows for an improved empathic
posture in the receiver of the emotional message,
something that by all indications was not important to
Couple(2).
Conclusion. This couple expressed satisfaction in
their abilities to be aware of intimate cues of awareness
concerning emotion. Traditional gender roles did not
play a part for the male. There was clear evidence that
the traditional gender role for the female existed in
both individuals.
This couple indicated a complacent stance in their
expression of emotion. It was neither good nor bad it
just was, and was just obvious. They appeared to not
have considered any other options that might be available
in expression and were comfortable in just accepting what
was already obvious to them.
49


In the area of appraisal, M(3) and F(3) were
unwilling to directly confront the derivation of
emotional pain in each other. No misunderstandings can
occur if causes of emotional pain are not directly
addressed. This couple emphasized that the only
understanding that was necessary was the need to be
expressive through crying and close physical contact.
The willingness to not disclose the derivation of
emotional pain was seen by each as an attempt by the
couple to protect each other from past relationship
experiences.
This couple's overall rating in the three categories
of awareness, expression, and appraisal is summarized in
table 5.1 in the overall conclusion section on pg. [53].
Overall Conclusion
The wide range of relationship differences evidenced
between these three couples was surprising. For the most
part differences are probably due to previous marital
experiences and the length of marriages. Couple(1) are
in their first marriage, both have high relationship
skills and have developed their own way of handling
emotional events, regardless of societal norms. Whether
this privatized method continues to work in the years to
50


come is yet to be seen, but currently this is the only
couple.that continually rated their abilities to handle
emotional experiences as satisfactory in the three
categories of awareness, expression, and appraisal.
Couple(2)fs ability to handle emotional experiences
is clearly affected by their prior experiences occurring
long before their relationship began. The impact of at
least one of those experiences that is still unresolved,
Vietnam, continues to create emotional misunderstandings
that the couple is currently unable to work through
effectively.
Couple(3) have been married the shortest period of
time and are in their second marriages having apparently
chosen not to verbally disclose the causes of their
emotional pain to each other, or in our interviews. That
could possibly be attributed to their prior marriages and
the roles they assumed in those marriages. This decision
of non-disclosure may account for the complacency rating
this couple gave in reference to their relationship.
Their apparent fear of bringing up past difficulties may
have "frozen" this couple into a "don't rock the boat"
attitude which is manifested as their reported state of
complacency. Time will tell if this couple can maintain
51


their agreed upon level of emotional non-disclosure as
time goes by.
Subsequently, the following chart is only a
reflection of each couple's current rating of emotional
positions in their relationship. Many individual and
joint differences can account for the ratings, therefore
I am hesitant to reach a definitive conclusion for the
uniqueness within each relationship. What I can conclude
is that a couple's emotional position is reached through
a joint decision making '"process" that continues to
evolve as the relationship continues. Therefore the
results of this research can only be viewed as a static
"snapshot" in the lives of these always changing
relationships.
52


Table 5.1______Reported Attributes of Partner
COUPLES AWARENESS EXPRESSION APPRAISAL
Male Female Male Female Male Female
Cl S S S S S S
C2 D D D D D D
C3 S S C C S C

LEGEND:
S Satisfactory degree of emotional communication.
C Complacency toward degree of emotional
u omiLiun i c a t i o n.
D Dissatisfactory level of emotional communication
Table 5.2______Reported Attributes of Self
COUPLES AWARENESS EXPRESSION APPRATSAT,
Male Female Male Female Male Female
Cl s s s s s s
C2 S S S S D S
C3 S S C C C S
LEGEND:
S Satisfactory degree of emotional communication.
C Complacency toward degree of emotional
communication.
D Dissatisfactory level of emotional communication
53


In summary, I found a general inconsistency between
couples in gender positions in communicating emotional
pain. Perhaps with a larger sample size more definitive
conclusions and generalizations could be made. As is
shown in the preceding table, and noted in the overall
conclusion, inconsistencies exist within C2 and C3
between what their spouse reported and how the individual
rated themselves in attributes of communicating emotional
pain awareness, expression, and appraisal. While the
attributes reported by both partners of couple 1 were
consistent, the non-verbal signaling may suggest a
"social demand" desire in answering researcher questions.
The same non-verbal cues may also suggest an unspoken
agreement within the relationship as to how this couple
is willing to publicly disclose relationship information.
Critique
Strengths
Personal interviews, as opposed to questionnaires,
seemed to be an effective method in gleaning information
for these types of initial studies. With personal
interviews the verbal cues of tonality, pitch, etc. are
accessible as well as the many, and perhaps more
54


important, non-verbal cues. In this particular
methodology, the use of two interviewers provided for
better interpretation of the non-verbal and vocal cues
when accessing the participant responses, especially
across any perceived gender limitations.
The experience of creating a relationship narrative
about emotional events to outsiders may enhance further
communication within the relationship concerning how
emotions are dealt with. Specifically, in the case of
C(2), both individuals have contacted these researchers
on several occasions to report that they are beginning to
talk more and are achieving a new understanding of their
emotional difficulties. M(2) has indicated a change in
several behavioral habits that F(2) perceived as
destructive to their relationship. This can certainly be
seen as an unintended strength in regard to this
research.
Weakness
While at the time of acquiring the willing
participants some information needed to be disclosed as
to the focus of the study, this may have invoked a sense
of anxiety in regards to the anticipated questions. This
55


anxiety may have set up an unavoidable example of
compliance to the positive concern of the researcher and
projecting the researcher's desired outcome, known as the
Hawthorne effect as described by Shaughnessy, and
Zechmeister (1994, p. 337).
Perhaps one weakness in this study is the self-
reporting of information. There must always be some
question as to how much the participants in self-
reporting studies answer the questions in anticipation of
giving the researcher the answers researchers want to
hear, known as the "social demand" response described by
Watt and van den Berg (1995, p. 294). Should self-report
still be the method of choice, I would suggest that the
questions be distributed in advance of the actual
interview. In so doing, the participants would be more
familiar with the process and also be able to pick from
one or two specific emotional issues from which to
formulate their answers.
The second interview with five of the six
participants in this study gained very little additional
information and in fact may have been perceived as an
annoyance rather than further opportunity to express more
personal responses to the questions. This could have
56


been due to similar types of questions, however in one
situation, the individual interview was successful in
accessing further disclosure than that accessed in the
couple interview. Therefore I conclude that individual
interviews may be seen as a relational threat wherein no
new information is disclosed by the individual in order
to maintain a sense of relational solidarity. When there
is no perceived relational solidarity to begin with,
individuals may take this opportunity to be more
expressive.
Overall the topic of emotional sharing may be quite
difficult to arrive at truly honest answers due to the
inherent sensitivity of most emotionally charged issues.
However, the rewards of such research may in fact be
great. Larger sample sizes may offset many of these
difficulties.
Implications for Future Research
It is the belief of this researcher that a better
more accurate understanding of the awareness, appraisal,
and expression of emotional pain would serve to improve
marital relationships in general. Along this line,
follow-up interviews in 3 to 5 years would be helpful to
57


examine the changes over time in how couples deal with
emotional events. The hope would be that as a result of
our interviews the participants would revisit their
individual and joint responses in their own minds and
consequently strive to make any changes they might
perceive as appropriate. I believe that the benefits to
be derived from this research would best be suited for
assimilation into an individuals life at a very early
age. Since responses found both here and in literature
reviewed might be at least in part attributed to early
age socialization the only conclusion I can make is that
changes are also best made at a very early age.
In focussing research on methods of improving gender
communication, rather than highlighting the differences
and difficulties of gender communication, the information
uncovered would certainly serve to improve rather than
increase these differences. Future studies in this area
concentrating on the similarities between genders, and
improvement of those characteristics that seem different,
may in fact facilitate the closure of what has become an
enormous chasm of confusion. Perhaps participants in
future studies could include equal numbers of
participants both known to and not known to the
58


interviewer. This approach, over a large sample size,
might indicate differing degrees of disclosure dependent
upon these two categories of participant. Using
participants both known and not known to the researcher
might increase the breadth of data gained and perhaps
more effectively assess true gender positions on
communication.
Difficulty arises in attempting to assess whether
relationships dissolve as a result of communication
difficulties or if the communication diminishes as a
result of the degradation of the relationship. Yet in
either scenario, the better the understanding we have of
communication, and in particular the communication of
emotional pain, as well as emotions in general, the
better chance any relationship has of remaining intact
and enjoyable for both spouses. As long as our research
remains focused on the positive aspects we are better
able to enhance these positives and, in turn, perhaps
dissolve troubling differences.
59


APPENDIX A
Questions (1): Individual
Taking into consideration the individual differences
known to exist between participants of any sample, these
questions may not be asked dependent upon the answers
given to previous questions. These questions serve as a
guideline as to the investigation.
1. In what ways do you feel recognition of your partners
need to express emotional pain is important to a
satisfying relationship?
2. In what ways do you feel you express emotional pain?
3. Describe any similarities in the way each of you
approach the need to express emotional pain?
4. Describe how you know when you spouse is experiencing
emotional pain/emotional joy.
5. Relate how you approach your spouse concerning your own
emotional pain or joy.
6. Relate how you typically approach your spouse when you
believe he/she is experiencing emotional pain or joy.
60


7. describe you sense of accuracy in reading and
understanding your spouses' emotions, (Happy, sad,
fear, etc.).
8. How aware are you of your own emotions?
9. Would you like to be more aware?
10. Concerning the sharing of emotions, do you have any
advice, concerns, desires? If so please elaborate.
11. What other comments you would like to make?
61


APPENDIX B
Questions (2): Couples
Taking into consideration the individual differences
known to exist between participants of any sample, these
questions may not be asked dependent upon the answers
given to previous questions. These questions serve as a
guideline as to the investigation.
1. Describe the way you see yourselves expressing
emotional pain?
2. Thinking of a specific situation, with out describing
the situation, please describe and define this pain.
3. In what ways do you see the experience of emotional
pain as differing from physical pain?
4. With respect to emotional pain, can you describe
specifically how emotional pain feels and how you sense
you display or express this emotional pain?
5. In what ways do you and your spouse differ in your
expressions of emotional pain?
6. How do you recognize the need to "hear" your partners'
need to express emotional pain?
62


7. Tell me how you would define happy emotions.
8. Explain how you handle the expression of emotions in
your relationship.
9. Please define painful/sad emotions.
10.In what ways do you see that you could improve your
awareness of your spouses emotions.
11. How often do you, as a couple take time and talk about
painful emotions?
12. What advice would you like to give others in respect
to the sharing of painful emotions?
13. What other comments do you have?
63


APPENDIX C
Informed Consent Form (Individuals)
On this date: ,
I, _______________________________, State that I am over
18 years of age and that I voluntarily agree to
participate in this research conducted by Don Werner,
graduate student at the University of Colorado at Denver.
I understand that ethical guidelines are being followed
throughout this research. I understand that I will be
taking part in two interviews, one with my spouse, the
other one on one with Mr. Werner. I further understand
that this project will involve two interviews of
approximately one hour each, and that the nature of this
research is to obtain information regarding the aspects
of communication and recognition of need to communicate
emotional pain within couples' relationships. Further, I
understand that I am being asked not to relate specific
64


situations, and that answering some of the questions may
cause me some degree of discomfort.
I acknowledge that Mr. Werner has explained to me fully
the scope, procedure, and purpose of this research; that
I may withdraw from participation at any time without
prejudice or penalty; has offered to answer any questions
I might have concerning this project; and has assured me
that any and all information I give will remain
confidential.
I also acknowledge that Mr. Werner has explained to me
that immediately following my participation in this
project; I will be given a full explanation of the
research and any further questions I may have at that
time will be answered; that I have not been offered nor
promised any reward or pay for my participation in this
project. I will be given a copy of this form to keep.
I understand the potential benefits may include, but are
not limited to; relationship improvement potentials in
emotional communication strategies, relationship
65


improvement potentials in conflict resolution, and or
relationship improvement potentials in empathic
communication skills.
I also understand that should I desire I may, at any
time, contact the Office of Academic Affairs, CU Denver
Building, suite 700, 556-2550 with questions rights as a
research participant.
Donald F. Werner Researcher Participant Signature
66


APPENDIX D
Informed Consent Form (Couples)
Date:__________________
If __________________________________
and
If __________________________________, State that I am over
18 years of age and that I voluntarily agree to
participate in this research conducted by Don Werner,
graduate student at the University of Colorado at Denver.
I understand that ethical guidelines are being
followed throughout this research. I understand that I
will be taking part in two interviews, one with my
spouse, the other one on one with Mr. Werner. I further
understand that this project will involve two interviews
of approximately one hour each, and that the nature of
this research is to obtain information regarding the
aspects of communication and recognition of need to
communicate emotional pain within couples' relationships.
Further, I understand that I am being asked not to relate
specific situations, and that answering some of the
questions may cause me some degree of discomfort.
67


I acknowledge that Mr. Werner has explained to me
fully the scope, procedure, and purpose of this research;
that I may withdraw from participation at any time
without prejudice or penalty; has offered to answer any
questions I might have concerning this project; and has
assured me that any and all information I give will
remain confidential.
I also acknowledge that Mr. Werner has explained to
me that immediately following my participation in this
project; I will be given a full explanation of the
research and any further questions I may have at that
time will be answered; that I have not been offered nor
promised any reward or pay for my participation in this
project. I will be given a copy of this form to keep.
I understand the potential benefits 'may include, but
are not limited to; relationship improvement potentials
in emotional communication strategies, relationship
improvement potentials in conflict resolution, and or
relationship improvement potentials in empathic
communication skills.
I also understand that should I desire I may, at any
time, contact the Office of Academic Affairs, CU Denver
68


Building, suite 700, 556-2550 with questions rights as a
research participant.
Donald F. Werner Researcher Participant Signature
Participant Signature
69


REFERENCES
Acitelli, L. A. (1992). Gender differences in
relationship awareness and marital satisfaction among
young married couples. Personality and Social Psychology
Bulletin, 18(1), 102-110.
Arliss, L. (1991). Gender communication. New
Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Bates, M. S., Edwards, W. T., & Anderson K. 0.
(1993). Ethnocultural influences on variation in chronic
pain perception. Pain, 52 (1), 101-112.
Berscheid, E. (1983). Emotion. In H. Kelley, E.
Berscheid, A. Christensen, J. H. Harvey, T. L. Huston, G.
Levinger, E. McClintock, L. A. Peplau, & D. R. Peterson
(Eds.). Close relationships (pp. 110-168). New York:
W. H. Freeman and Company.
Berscheid, E., & Peplau, L. A. (1983). The
emerging science of relationships. In H. Kelley, E.
Berscheid, A. Christensen, J. H. Harvey, T. L. Huston, G.
Levinger, E. McClintock, L. A. Peplau, & D. R. Peterson
(Eds.). Close relationships (pp. 1-19). New York: W.
H. Freeman and Company.
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Brody, L. R., & Hall, J. A. (1993). Gender and
emotion. In M. Lewis & J. Haviland (Eds.). Handbook of
Emotions. (pp. 447-460). New York: The Guilford Press.
Buckelew, S. P., Shutty, M. S., Hewett, J., Landon,
T., Morrow, K. & Frank, R. G. (1990). Health locus of
control, gender differences and adjustment to persistent
pain. Pain, 42(3), 287-294.
Buller, D. B., & Burgoon, J. K. (1998). Emotional
expression in the deception process. In Handbook of
communication and emotion. (pp. 382-402). San Diego:
Academic Press.
Burgoon, J. K., Buller, D. D., & Woodall, W. G.
(1996). Nonverbal communication: the unspoken dialogue.
New York: McGar-Hill.
Bush, F. M., Harkins, S. W., Harrington, W. G., &
Price, D. D. (1993). Analysis of gender effects on pain
perception and symptom presentation in temporomandibular
pain. Pain, 53(1), 73-80.
Calderone, K. L. (1990). The influence of gender
on the frequency of pain and sedative medication
administered to postoperative patients. Sex roles,
23(11/12), 713-725.
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Flor, H., Turk, D. C., & Rudy, T. E. (1989).
Relationship of pain impact and significant other
reinforcement of pain behaviors: the mediating role of
gender, marital status and marital satisfaction. Pain,
38(1), 45-50.
Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New
York: Bantam Books.
Gottman, J. M., & Carrere, S. (1994). Why can't
men and women get along. In D. Canary, D. & L. Stafford
(Eds.). Communication and relational maintenance. (pp.
203-229). San Diego: Academic Press, Inc.
Graham, T., & Ickes, W. (1997). When women's
intuition isn't greater than men's. In Ickes, W. (Ed.).
Empathic accuracy (pp. 117-143). New York: The
Guilford Press.
Gray, J. (1992). Men are from Mars, women are from
Venus. New York: Harper Collins.
Howell, W. S., (1982). The empathic communicator.
California: Wadsworth, Inc.
Lander, J., Fowler-Kerry, S., & Hargreaves, A.
(1989). Gender effects in pain perception. Perceptual
and Motor Skills, 68 (3, Pt 2), 1088-1090.
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Lazrus, R. S. (1991). Emotion adaptation. New
York: Oxford University Press.
LeDoux, J. E., (1996). The emotional brain: the
mysterious underpinnings of emotional life. New York:
Simon & Schuster.
Lennon, R., & Eisenberg, N. (1987). Gender and age
differences in empathy and sympathy. In Empathy and its
development. (pp. 195-218). New York: Cambridge
University Press.
Leventhal, H., & Patrick-Miller, L.. (1998).
Emotion an illness: the mind is in the body. In
Handbook of communication and emotion. (pp. 365-379).
San Diego: Academic Press.
Levine, F. M., & De Simone, L. L. (1991). The
effects of experimenter gender on pain report in male' and
female subjects. Pain, 44 (1), 69-72.
Markman, H., Stanley, S., & Blumberg, S. L. (1994).
Fighting for your marriage. San Francisco, California:
Josse-Bass Inc.
Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (1989). Designing
qualitative research. Newbury Park, California: Sage
Publications Inc.
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McCaffery, M., & Ferrell, B. R. (1992). Does the
gender gap affect your pain-control decisions? Nursing,
22(8), 48-51.
Noller, P. (1993). Gender and emotional
communication in marriage: Differential social power?
Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 12(1-2), 132-
152.
Otto, M. W., & Dougher, M. J. (1985). Sex
differences and personality factors in responsivity to
pain. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 61(2), 383-390.
Pert, C. B. (1997). Molecules of emotion: why you
feel the way you feel. New York: Scribner.
Saarni, C. (1998). Socialization of emotion. In
Handbook of communication and emotion. (pp. 435-446).
San Diego: Academic Press.
Salovey, P., & Mayer, J. D. (1989). Emotional
intelligence. Imagination, Cognition and Personality,
9(3), 185-211.
Saville-Troike, M. (1995). The ethnography of
communication. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
Scotland, E., Mathews, K. E., Jr., Sherman, S. E.,
Hansson, R. 0., & Richardson, B. Z. (1978). Empathy,
fantasy and helping. California: Sage Publications Inc.
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Shaughnessy, J. J., & Zechmeister, E. B. (1994).
Research methods in psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill,
Inc.
Tannen, D. (1994). Gender and discourse. New
York: Oxford University Press, Inc.
Tannen, D. (1991). You just dont understand:
women and men in conversation. New York: Ballantine
Books.
Thomas, G., & Fletcher, G. J. 0.. (1997). Empathic
Accuracy in close relationships. In Ickes, W. (Ed.).
Empathic accuracy (pp. 194-217). New York: The
Guilford Press.
Viscott, D. (1996). Emotional Resilience: simple
truths in dealing with the unfinished business of your
past. New York: Harmony Books.
Watt, J. H., & van den Berg, S. (1995). Research
methods for communication science. Massachusetts: Simon
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Full Text

PAGE 1

EXPLORING GENDER POSITIONS ON EMOTIONAL PAIN AWARENESS, EXPRESSION, AND APPRAISAL By Donald F. Werner B.A., Metropolitan State College of Denver, 1995 A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Communication and Theatre 1998

PAGE 2

1998 by Donald F. Werner All rights reserved. ii

PAGE 3

This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Donald F. Werner has been approved by II-3-T8 iii Date

PAGE 4

Werner, Donald F. (M.A., Communication and Theatre) Exploring Gender Positions on Emotional Pain Awareness, Appraisal, and Expression Thesis directed by Associate Professor Michael Monsour ABSTRACT This research involves interviews of couples in a marriage relationship. I have attempted to discover gender positions of expression, appraisal, and awareness of emotional pain. Each couple was interviewed first as a couple, then as individuals. Data collected was analyzed for information on each couples' expression, awareness, and appraisal methods. A co-researcher was present during all interviews for purposes of tape machine functions, as well as the comfort and protection of the participants. This information is felt to be useful to other couples wishing to become more proficient in these skills. Anticipated risks associated with this study may involve some minor sense of discomfort in answering some questions. Potential risk management included an instruction prior to the interview reque$ting iv

PAGE 5

participants not to relate specific incidents from their past that have the potential of bringing up unresolved issues and therefore possible emotional pain. The informed consent option of exiting the interview at any time the participants may desire provides subjects with a method of disengaging from any potential issues of emotional pain that may cause undue discomfort or stress risks. This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication. Signed Michael Monsour v

PAGE 6

CONTENTS CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . 1 Construct Definitions ..................... 1 Problem Statement ............... 3 Thesis Development ................... 3 2. LITERATURE REVIEW ................... 5 Awareness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Expression ............................ 12 App r a is a 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Benefits ................................. 17 3. RESEARCH METHOD ............................. 20 Participant Demographics ................... 21 Design and Procedures ...................... 22 Analysis .............................. 25 4. THE RESULTS .............................. 26 Interview 1 ......................... 26 Demographics ............................ 2 6 Couple Interview ...................... 27 Individual Interviews ................... 29 Interviewer Observations ............... 29 vi

PAGE 7

5. APPENDIX A. Interview 2 ..... ....... 30 Demographics. ...... 30 Couple Interview. . . . . . . . . 3 0 Individual Interviews. 3 2 Interviewer Observations ................. 33 Interview 3 ..... . . . . . . . . 3 4 Demographics. 34 Couple Interview. ....... 34 Individual Interviews .... ....... 36 Interviewer Observations. ...... 37 DISCUSSION ... Interviews,. 3 9 39 1. Couple Couple Couple 2 39 42 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. 47 Overall Conclusion. 50 Critique ..... . . . . . . . . 54 Strengths .. ............................. 54 Weaknesses. 55 Implications for Future Research ............. 57 QUESTIONS (Individual) 60 B. QUESTIONS (Couples) .......................... 62 vii

PAGE 8

C. INFORMED CONSENT FORM (Individual) ........... 64 D. INFORMED CONSENT FORM (Couples) .............. 67 REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 0 viii

PAGE 9

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The purpose of this study is to explore the awareness, expression, and appraisal of emotional pain and how these positions affect communication between males and females in marriage relationships. Once established and clarified, such information could become of great value in the field of couples counseling and communication by enhancing the understanding of what facilitates healthy relationship communication in the expression of emotional pain. The skills of recognizing and appraising emotional pain, prior to the onset of communication discourse, may ensure a more enjoyable relationship. Construct Definitions This author has adopted the definition of emotion or emotions as set forth by Salovey and Mayer (1989): view emotions as organized responses, crossing the boundaries of many psychological systems, including the physiological, cognitive, motivational, and experimental 1

PAGE 10

systems" (p. 186). In short, emotions affect people in the physical, mental, and behavioral realms. Salovey and Mayer explained that emotions have positive or negative meanings, arising from both internal and external events. These emotions then have a positive or negative affect upon the bio-psycho-social mannerisms of those experiencing the emotion. For the purposes of this inquiry, pain is defined as an unpleasant sensation occurring in varying degrees of severity and may be experienced across the bounds of the bio-psycho-social experience. Therefore this author refers to emotional pain as an unpleasant sensation, occurring in varying degrees of severity, arising either from an internal or external event, and having an unpleasant effect on the subject, as described by Goleman (1995). Further, this author shall refer to the ability of the subjects to have knowledge of such emotional pain in self or others as awareness. This investigation also looked at an individual's ability to communicate his/her emotional pain upon his/her awareness in either or both nonverbal or verbal fashion and refer to this. as expression. Appraisal refers to the recognition of the derivation of, 2

PAGE 11

evaluation of, and processing of information pertaining to emotional pain within self or within another. Problem Statement Having better awareness of the existence of emotional pain within one's self and partner would make possible a more effective method of communication within the marital relationship. The effective appraisal of emotional pain could facilitate a strengthening in the relationship. An awareness of emotional pain, such as sorrow, grieving, or loss, and how it is expressed by the partner could facilitate a more appropriate method of communication such as compassion and empathy; thereby improving the overall process of interpersonal communication. Thesis Development In the development of this thesis, literature in the area of emotional communication, physical pain, couples relationships, and empathy were examined. While specific areas of awareness, expression, and appraisal, were reviewed, the benefits of emotional expression, awareness, and appraisal was uncovered as a side issue in 3

PAGE 12

several sources. While the benefits are not a specific part of this investigation, a separate section addressing these potential benefits are included and references to benefits are referred to within the other sections. In the following pages sections are devoted to the literature pertaining to awareness, expression, and appraisal, with general references to the benefits of emotional communication included in each. I began with awareness, and due to the lack of literature addressing emotional pain directly, I specifically addressed awareness of pain in general with inferences made to awareness of emotional pain. Following that, I looked at literature pertaining to expression, and finally literature addressing appraisal. 4

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CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW An initial review of literature was conducted concerning male/female positions in the awareness and expression of emotional pain. Literature in the area of emotional pain and the awareness or expression of that pain is sparse and spread across disciplinary approaches. The need for further research into the area of emotional pain awareness and expression is imperative for increased understanding of these communication phenomena. A recent attempt to provide a framework for research literature referring to the studies of emotional awareness is found within the literature on emotional intelligence (cf. Salovey & Mayer, 1989), and while their work is a giant step in centralizing emotional awareness research, there is lots of room for more work to be done in this area. Awareness A large body of literature exists on issues concerning individual differences in conjunction with 5

PAGE 14

physical pain (e.g. Buckelew, Shutty, Hewett, Landon, Morrow, & Frank, 1990), gender differences in communication (e.g. Arliss, 1991; Tannen, 1994), and aspects of relationship awareness (e.g. Berscheid, & Peplau, 1983). Because emotions invoke physiological responses, as does physical pain, an understanding of male/female positions in awareness and expression of physical pain can facilitate a better understanding of the existence of differences in gender expression and awareness during circumstances of emotional pain. A close examination of the study of expression of physical pain can contribute to the initial understanding of male/female positions in awareness and expression of emotional pain. Studies of differences in physical pain can be divided into two basic groups: (a) Cultural differences in pain perception (cf. Bates, Edwards, & Anderson 1993), and (b) the aspects of gender differences in the reporting of physical pain' (cf. Lander, FowlerKerry, & Hargreaves, 1989; Bush, Harkins, Harrington, & Price, 1993). In the area of physical pain perception, there exists distinct individual differences dependent upon various factors; the sex of the patient (cf. Calderone, 6

PAGE 15

1990); the gender of the caregiver (cf. McCaffery, & Ferrell, 1992); the sex of the researcher (cf. Levine, & De Simone, 1991); as well as other factors such as locus of health control (cf. Buckelew, Shutty, Hewett, Landon, Morrow, & Frank, 1991); personality (cf. Otto, & Dougher, 1985); and cultural differences (cf. Bates, Edwards, & Anderson, 1993) All of these various factors may also indicate differences in awareness, appraisal, and expression of such pain. Arliss (1991), addressed many aspects and differences in male/female communication in the expression of violence, eye contact, touching, language, non-verbal behavior, and facial expressions. These are all areas of communication useful in the expression of pain. There are many studies on male/female communication and differences therein. However, there is a serious void in the literature with regard to the expression of emotional pain between opposite-sex partners and the awareness of such emotional pain in one's spouse. In reference to men and women and the different words they use, Tannen (1991) wrote: 7

PAGE 16

Intimacy is key in a world of connection where individuals negotiate complex networks of friendship, minimize differences, try to reach consensus, and avoid the appearance of superiority, which would highlight differences. In a world of status, independence is key, because a primary means of establishing status is to tell others what to do, and taking orders is a marker of low status. Though all humans need both intimacy and independence, women tend to focus on the first and men on the second. It is as if their life-blood ran in different directions. (p. 26) Tannen suggests that men, while being aware of independency attributes, are less likely to be aware of things that reinforce intimacy attributes; such as the presence of emotional pain in either themselves or their partner. The opposite being stereotypically characteristic of women. Summarizing the findings and general knowledge of male/female positions in communication, there are many aspects of communication in which the sexes differ in communication styles and approaches. These positions have long been known to affect the quality of the 8

PAGE 17

communication, especially among married couples (cf. Acitelli, 1992; Gray, 1992 Noller, 1993;). In reference to relationship awareness, Acitelli (1992) reported that" ... wives talked more about their relationship than husbands did" (p.107), and that for wives, relationship satisfaction was directly related to relationship talk and the degree of husbands' relationship talk; while the same was not found to be true as far as husbands reported. This has been widely accepted throughout both existing literature on communication and general knowledge among those interested in communication proficiency (e.g. Flor, Turk, & Rudy, 1989). Acitelli went on to write that "spouses who are high in relationship awareness may have the skill to resolve conflicts smoothly and contribute to a happy marriage" (p. 108). Implied within Acitelli's statement is that partners who have high relationship skills are more inclined to recognize emotional pain both within themselves as well as their partners. Also implied by the specific reference to is that either the male or the female may be the spouse with high relationship skills. 9

PAGE 18

Noller (1993) contends that "husbands in unhappy marriages have difficulty decoding emotional messages from their wives [this] suggests that the stress in the relationship affects their performance in even quite basic communication tasks" (p. 149). A husband's inability to decode emotional messages sets up the potential for a downward spiral of relationship harmony that could begin with the presence of emotional pain in one partner that, when not recognized or attended to, sets up the stress that furthers the decay of the relationship, referred to by Noller. In discovering the root of the problem, misperceived emotional pain, couples can begin to improve the skills necessary to reverse the downward cycle and initiate a growth cycle in the relationship. Goleman (1995), contended that emotions are contagious and that the contagion takes place primarily through the imitation of nonverbal emotional cues. Goleman further noted that the transfer of an emotional state generally goes from the person more expressive of emotions to the less expressive person. Gray (1992) contended that "when men become upset, they tend to become judgmental of women and women's feelings" (p. 206) Gray points out that men find it 10

PAGE 19

more difficult to be supportive and nurturing after incurring negative feelings in communication, while under the same circumstances women find it hard to be trusting and show appreciation. Markman (1994) contended that negative interpretations of the other person's state of mind or intentions is one root cause of the initial destruction of a relationship. In my literature review I found a potential set up for the downward cycle that threatens the harmony within good relationships. I contention that with more awareness and appraisal of emotional pain in self and in the other, this downward spiral could be reversed and redirected into building better relationships. Such information can most effectively be ascertained by means of qualitative research and is the motivation behind this research. Information gathered in the area of relationship awareness supports the idea that there are distinct male/female functional differences in the awareness of relationship threatening conditions. Recognizing these differences in awareness within relationships, while specifically noting the many areas of communication differences, one can draw three conclusions from the research on relationship awareness: First, in reference 11

PAGE 20

to physical pain perception, there are many individual differences that play a role in the perception of pain (cf. Bates, Edwards, Fowler-Kerry, & Hargreaves, 1989; Bush, Harkins, Harrington, & Price, 1993). Second, there are many male/female differences in communication between men and women (cf. Acitelli, 1992; Gray, 1992; Noller, 1993; Tannen, 1991). Third, when relationship awareness is examined, differences in gender approach to relationship issues exist (cf. Acitelli, 1992; Flor, Turk, & Rudy, 1989; Gray, 1992) Individual differences in general pain perception are compounded by the general differences in communication styles between males and females. These communication differences could not only lead to an inaccurate awareness of pain sensation in general, but it is also apparent that the differences in inter-gender relationship awareness exaggerates the effects of each. With this in mind, this study is designed to survey a small sample to determine possibilities for future research. Expression Voluminous publications in the popular press exist attributing a greater degree of emotional expression to 12

PAGE 21

the female sex, (e.g., Gray, 1992; Tannen, 1994), yet in contrast Brody, and Hall (1993) suggest that gender differences are a product of social pressures such as family, peers, and society. They further indicated that stereotypical emotional responses, and attributes thereof, may in fact be simply ... self-fulfilling prophecies" (p. 447). Graham, and Ickes (1997) reiterated this concern in reference to self reported gender differences in regards to empathy, pointing out that gender differences may be the result of ... appropriate gender role behavior" (p. 121). Graham, and Ickes go on to point out that in reviewing 14 studies addressing gender differences in emotional communication, conducted by Eisenberg, and Lennon in 1983 (as cited in Graham and Ickes 1997) ... no significant gender differences were found" (p. 121) Scotland, Mathews, Sherman, Hansson, and Richardson (1978) addressed gender differences in emotional communication earlier, concluding that differences in emotional expressiveness may reflect women choosing a more socially acceptable response in order to conform with traditional gender roles. With 'regard to empathy and the interpretation of expressive emotional cues, Lennon and Eisenberg (1987) 13

PAGE 22

state that ... gender differences in empathy may be an artifact of the method of measurement", (p. 203), and that these differences could be a result of ... the type of vicarious emotion assesse&' (p. 203). The reviews by Scotland et al, (1978), Graham, & Ickes, (1997), and Lennon, & Eisenberg, (1987), while not inclusive of all studies, do tend to exemplify the conclusions of a representative sampling of such studies and suggest the need for more in-depth studies intended to clarify these issues. Gottman and Carrere (1994) suggested that we need ... to take a proactive look at how genders are separately socialized with respect to emotion, and how they are segregated by sex" (p. 226). My intention with this study is an attempt to reveal alternative approaches for future research to follow. Burgoon (1996) stated that women, when looking at non-verbal cues and especially facial cues used to impart intent, are more skilled than men. However, Graham and Ickes in a 1997 review of 10 studies pertaining to nonverbal advantages found ... virtually no evidence that women are better than in making inferences based on non-verbal cues (p. 140). Burgoon (1996) also noted that women are less likely to have an advantage in the 14

PAGE 23

expression or detection of deceptive or incongruous cues. Buller and Burgoon (1998) point out that expressively skilled emotional message senders are more successful at deception and skilled emotional receivers, or appraisers, are better at detecting deception. Appraisal Lazarus (1991) directed attention to the importance of accurate appraisal of emotional communication in the following list of benefits to be gained from accurate appraisal: (1) Emotions tell us the relationship between a person and the ongoing relationship between that person and his/her environment, (2) discovery of things important and unimportant to others in regards to life events or events happening around them, (3) we can discover many things about that person and his/her core values, and attitudes; and (4) we can learn how a person has evaluated an encounter in terms of that persons well being (pp. 22-23). Accurate appraisal of emotional messages received leads the receiver to an empathic posture, that is an understanding of others' internal or psychological state of mind at that moment. Thomas and Fletcher (1997) 15

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informed the reader that empathic accuracy, the result of emotional appraisal, involves an understanding of the emotional states of another, without need for response to the emotional state. Several studies reviewed by Eisenberg, Murphy, and Shepard (1997) in their chapter titled Development of Empathic Accuracy', indicated that empathic accuracy begins at a very early age and continues to develop over the life time. These authors found that gender differences in empathic accuracy favored females in terms of interpretation of facial expressions but not expressions of anger. Conclusions were drawn indicating the effects of and stereotypical expectations, Brody, Hall, Maltz & Borker reviews (as cited in Eisenberg, Murphy, & Shepard, 1997). Lazarus (1991), discussed appraisal in two modes, primary and secondary; primary appraisal being those emotional messages that are immediately relevant to the individual, while secondary appraisal involves emotional messages that are more future oriented. Howell (1982) condensed the challenges of accurate appraisals in his discussion of perception and is meaninq' (p. 48). Howell noted a commonly held concept: receivers place meaning on communication 16

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received even though that meaning may not be the intended message. Acknowledging this communication phenomenon, the importance of accuracy improvement in emotional appraisal becomes of greater interest. Benefits While the benefits of emotional communication or accuracy of appraisal, expression, or awareness of communication of emotional pain were not a primary in research interest, the review of many studies referenced such benefits and therefore I have chosen to include a sampling of those studies. Foundational to the understanding of the benefits of emotional communication is an understanding of where emotions are felt, received, or stored in the body. Pert (1997) has recently published ground-breaking research revealing a new understanding of emotions and the cellular structures of the brain and mind. With the discovery of new information surrounding peptides and other informational substances and biochemicals of emotions and their distribution throughout the body, Pert has concluded that body is the unconscious mind" (p. 141). Scientists have held that emotions are stored in 17

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memory within the mind, then these memories are called upon for reaction as needed (cf. Goleman, 1995, LeDoux, 1996, Pert, 1997). Pert (1997) addressed the benefits of effective emotional communication in this way; trauma caused by overwhelming emotion can be stored in a body part, thereafter affecting our ability to feel that part or even move it [the body part]" (p. 141). Viscott (1996) concluded that there are two basic feelings, pleasure and pain. Further Viscott categorized pain into three stages, past, present, and future. Past pain is felt as anger, present pain as hurt, and future pain as anxiety. Viscott also informed the reader that (past pain), directed inward becomes guilt" (p. 71). Leventhal and Patrick-Miller (1993) concluded that states appear to play a causal role in the generation of illness, and illness plays a role in the generation of emotion" (p 373) This apparent spiral of affect may be positively influenced by skilled emotional communication, an affect of remarkable advantage to those possessing those skills. Saarni (1993) inferred the beneficial affects of effective emotional communication skills in the following explanation of emotional expression; 18

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expression is meaningful and informative to the interactants, and emotional experience permits the verbal description and exchange of emotional processes in others" (p. 438). In his 1994 book, Marriages Succeed or Fail", Gottman pointed out that the balance between positive and negative emotional expression is a dynamic" in ecology' (p. 64). Gottman concluded there are ... crucial rates of emotional exchange" (p. 64). The conclusion of this researcher, based on this sampling of studies, is that improved emotional communication skills translate into a potential overall health improvement. In the next chapter I have described and explained the research methods used in this research. 19

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CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH METHOD Due to the complexity of the data in this study and the exploratory nature of this research, quantitative methods of measurement were not applicable (Marshal and Rossman (1998). Therefore, a qualitative design using in-depth interviews was chosen as the approach. The indepth interview process of inquiry was chosen because of the ability to collect large amounts of reliable data quickly through this process. The ability to further probe the answers given, combined with the observation of any non-verbal cues, provided more clarity in terms of future research direction. The information obtained was used to determine the need for future study and recommendations for the direction of such research. The research employed a qualitative study using an ethnographic approach. All participants and their spouse were asked to participant in one interview with the researchers. These interviews were approximately one hour in length. Prior to the taped interview, participants were briefed on the procedure to be 20

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followed and asked to sign an informed consent form (see appendix D) Any questions they had following this briefing were answered. These interviews were conducted following a list of open ended questions, (see appendix B), designed to illicit information to further the purpose of this research. Within 24 hours following the initial interview, (couples together in same interview), each participant was interviewed separately, for approximately the same amount of time. The individuals were briefed on the second interview, allowing for any questions, followed by the interview using a second set of questions (see appendix A) designed to clarify and deepen previous responses. This approach effectively provides nine sets of data for analysis. Following the final interviews, the participants were debriefed, first individually, then as a couple, at which time any further questions were answered. Participant Demographics The participants of this study were married heterosexual couples 21 years of age or older. Participant selection was made from couples married two years or longer and known by this researcher. Six 21

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individuals (three couples) were asked to participate in interviews described in the following section on methodology. Subjects received no pay for their participation and were assured of their anonymity. Design and Procedures Due to the lack of preceding studies specifically addressing the aspects of communication of emotional pain in married couples a qualitative interview design was employed. Marshall and Rossman (1989) argue that due to the explorative nature and the ability to identify unanticipated outcomes, the qualitative study is best suited for exploratory inquiry. Therefore, in-depth interviewing was chosen as the design. Materials consisted of a list of open-ended questions designed to provide the interviewer the direction which the interview should take dependent upon answers given by the subject being interviewed. Therefore some follow-up questions were asked of all the subjects while not all subjects were asked all the questions. While the order in which the questions were presented was generally adhered to, for purposes of maintaining continuity between the question and 22

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subsequent answer, the follow up questions may have been presented out of the order presented here. The interview protocol is set forth in appendix A and B. The interviews were conducted in the living or family rooms of the couple being interviewed. Placed upon a table were; a tape recorder, three pads of paper and three pencils. One pad and one pencil were available for each subject to use as desired, the other_ pad and pencil were used by the interviewer for note taking. The seating arrangement of the participant(s) and interviewers were arranged to encourage an atmosphere of casual warmth in order to encourage more communication freedom, while the structure of the interview was more formal. The subjects were told what the interview would entail and that they were not limited by a minimum or a maximum interview time. Each subject read and signed the informed consent form (couples appendix D), after questions concerning the interview were answered. The interviews began with the first question from the interview protocol and continued through the questions, the order was dependent upon each individual's response. Follow-up probes were made as needed to clarify any ambiguities in their answers. Careful notes 23

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were taken on non-verbal communication that accompanied the verbal responses. Interviews lasted more than 30 minutes and less than 1 hour and 15 minutes. The time per interview was dependent upon the individual's depth of answers and a sense of feeling finished with the interview. Interviews were tape recorded for later use so the flow of the interview was not inhibited by having to write down extensive notes. The same procedure was followed the next day interviewing each person separately using questions from appendix A. They were told they could inquire as to the overall results. Participants were also told the researcher would not disclose anything about their personal indications. After the interviews were finished the tapes were reviewed and information transcribed on paper for use in this study. Following the interview data were compiled, following guidelines set forth by Saville-Troike in Ethnography of Communication" (1995). An attempt was made to determine the existence of male/female differences in awareness, appraisal, and the expression of emotional pain. Tapes were carefully replayed within 24 hours of the original interview to make comparative notes between nonverbal and verbal responses. Then the tapes were played 24

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again to code any common responses or reactions to the questions. These responses and reactions were then grouped, by this researcher and research. assistant, according to generally similar themes and further categorized into more specific areas of response. Data were then compiled and from this compilation results were interpreted in reference to gender positions in the awareness, expression, and appraisal of emotional pain as reported in this subject sampling. Analysis As soon as possible after conducting the interviews, tape recordings were transcribed onto paper. Following transcription, the information gained was coded into categories of common responses and reactions. This data were then compiled and interpreted in reference gender positions in the awareness, expression, and appraisal of emotional pain as reported in this subject sampling. In the next chapter I examine the results of these data and make conclusions and observations. 25

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CHAPTER 4 RESULTS For purposes of analysis and discussion, the results of this research is presented in terms of the interviewed couples as C(l), C(2), and C(3); indicating interview 1, 2, and 3 respectively. The following indices refer to the individual interviewees: Males of each interview is referred to as, M(l), M(2), and M(3); indicating interview 1, 2, and 3 respectively. Females of each interview are referred to as, F(1), F(2), and F(3), indicating interview 1, 2, and 3 respectively. During all interviews, some very intimate information was revealed. I have elected to exclude examples of very intimate content and have chosen only specific examples indicative of the overall individual conversations. Interview 1 Demographics The couple in the first interview were married in their early twenties, now in their early thirties, and in their first marriage of 10 years. 26

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On a three point scale with satisfactory being the highest point followed by complacency and then dissatisfactory, this couple rated their relationship as satisfactory. The couple interview lasted for 60 minutes and the individual interviews were approximately 30 minutes in length. Couple Interview Overall the female initiated the responses to questions prior to any remarks made by the male. She continually observed the male for confirmation during her responses. Furthermore, during all the female responses, the male continually provided both verbal and non-verbal positive support cues, such as head nodding or "uh huh" or other short verbal confirmations of response accuracy. In addition, the male also added single sentence clarifications or confirmations of what the female said after each of her responses. In responses to describing how they see themselves expressing emotional pain, they agreed the most important thing when expressing emotional pain was to choose the appropriate place and time in order for a full and in-depth discussion of the emotional issue at hand. Examples: F(l): "We kinda wait until the 27

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late evening or bed time to discuss any emotional problems that happened during the day."; M(l): "Yeah we like to have plenty of time to talk things through." In response to the difference in expression between physical and emotional pain, they jointly agreed that attending to the expression of physical pain took precedence over the expression of emotional pain in that physical pain is immediately expressed. Both F(l) and M(l) agreed that they perceived the initial displays of physical pain verbally, while initial displays of emotional pain were perceived through eye contact and displays of non-verbal facial cues. These cues alert them to the need for emotional expression and disclosure at a later time. Additionally, they saw no difference in the affect displays between each other. The only additional comment following the joint interview was made by the male. He stated: "Ya know I really don't understand why people go get all these self help books about relationships. After all I figure that there isn't anyone more knowledgeable about what's goin' on between [F(l)] and me, other than the two of us." 28

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Individual Interviews During both individual interviews no new information was disclosed beyond what was reported in their joint interview. Both researchers noticed a decline in the overall willingness to disclose further information beyond their joint interview. The following examples are indicative of most every response in the individual interviews. F(l}: we kinda talked about that before, didn't we?"; M(l): we already cover that?" All other responses in the individual interviews were simply redundancies of the responses from the joint interview. Interviewer Observations From both the non-verbal as well as the verbal communication perspective, the researchers observed that this couple had apparently previously discussed their positions concerning the awareness, expression, and appraisal, of their emotions with each other. However, the interviewers felt that due to the hesitancy in answering some questions and the limited disclosure during the individual interviews, this couple was not comfortable or accustomed to disclosing their emotional information outside of the relationship. 29

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Interview 2 Demographics The second couple were married in their mid thirties,. are now in their early fifties and in their second marriages, married for 15 years. On a three point scale with satisfactory being the highest point followed by complacency and then dissatisfactory, this couple rated their relationship as dissatisfactory. The couple interview lasted for 45 minutes, and the individual interviews were approximately 35 minutes in length. Couple Interview During the course of this interview both researchers noticed a willingness on the part of the male to defer the first, or opening, response to the female being interviewed. Virtually no efforts were made on the part of this female to visually ascertain agreement or disagreement from M(2) during or following her responses to our questions. On the other hand, the few responses that were initiated by M(2) included eye contact with F(2) as responses were given. In response to the expression of emotional pain, F(2) said: never says anything to me, he just shuts 30

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down. I try to tell him how I'm feeling all the time but he never listens, but I keep tryin' ." F{2) went on to say: "I try to get him to talk to me about himself, but he won't do that either. Sometimes I wonder why I even try." In reference to the difference of expressions of physical verses emotional pain, overall this couple saw no differences. For example, F{2) stated: "I never know how he is feeling physically or emotionally, he doesn't tell me." M{2) stated: "I don't need to complain about every little thing that goes on. [F(2)] is always complaining, so I don't have much room to complain." Brackets used to maintain anonymity. In reference to how one sees the other in terms of displaying emotional pain, both jokingly observed that [F(2)J displayed enough emotional pain for the two of them. However, F{2) commented that she "wished that [M{2)J would share his emotional pain with me, I never know what's going on in there, {indicating M{2)'s head)." The only additional comment at the end of our research questions was made by F{2) when she stated: "I could fall off a cliff or completely lose my mind and [M{2)] wouldn't even notice." 31

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Individual Interviews In reference to the individual interview with F(2), no new information was gained. Although F(2) was continually expressive, the interview simply served to reiterat-e her statements from the joint interview conducted the previous day. The individual interview with M(2) provided extensively more information than what he disclosed in the joint interview. During the individual interview with M(2) he stated: tried to understand what is going on with her but it seems I'm never right and I catch holly /*// for not knowing. I've given up." M(2) disclosed during the individual interview that he was only able to share many of his emotions while having a drink at the VFW. Upon further disclosure during this interview, M(2) stated his reluctance to share his deepest emotions and emotional pains when he asserted: are many things about Vietnam that [F(2)] doesn't understand. I saw some things over there that only other guys that were there could know and understand. I told you I've tried, but {F(2)] doesn't get it." Additionally, M(2) discussed the fact that he feels partially responsible for F{2)'s negative emotions 32

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towards the relationship. M(2) admitted that the more F(2) talks about her negative emotions in the relationship, the worse he feels; the worse he feels, the less he talks. For example: can't even handle my own stuff most of the time and then she tells me she isn't happy and I feel like it's my fault 'cause she expects me to handle her stuff too." Interviewer Observations Due to the level of willing public disclosure with these researchers, this couple appears to have confronted these issues of emotion not only within their relationship, but also with others who are willing to listen to disclosure of these emotional issues. Even though some of the information disclosed during the joint interview was somewhat confrontational, neither individual appeared shocked, surprised or distressed by the content of the disclosures. The statements in the interviews came in a of fact" way. 33

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Interview 3 Demographics The third couple was married in their late forties, are now in their early fifties and in their second marriages, married for 4 years. On a three point scale with satisfactory being the highest point followed by complacency and then dissatisfactory, this couple rated their relationship as complacency. The couple interview lasted for 35 minutes and the individual interviews were approximately 15 minutes in length. Couple Interview During this interview, the male answered most of the questions first, and without eye contact with the female. On the few occasions when the female answered the question first, she simultaneously looked to the male for an apparent non-verbal confirmation during her answer. The male did volunteer non-verbal confirmations on most of those occasions. In reference to the expression of emotional pain, M(3) felt that F(3) was quite emotionally expressive. Evidence of this is shown when M(3) stated: can cry at the drop of a hat." Conversely, F(3) felt that 34

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M(3) had a tendency to not verbally discuss his emotions, particularly if the emotions were deeply held and apparently quite painful. This evidence is seen in the statement of F(3) when she said: I just know there is something really wrong but he can't tell me and all I can do is give him a long hug." M(3) concluded that the expression of emotional pain can be simply dealt with through close physical contact. For example, M(3) stated: I just think that all. she needs is just to be held. I don't know, I know it works for me." In reference to the perceived difference between physical and emotional pain, reference was made to the need to attend to physical pain with more urgency than the emotional pain. This was evidenced by the following remark made by both, almost simultaneously: our ages we really gotta pay attention to the physical stuff." In regards to the expression of emotional pain displays in the other, the researchers observed that the couple felt emotional displays were somewhat obvious, relying on the overt clues of crying and physical touch. Evidence of this is seen in the remark by M(3): guess we just know what it means when I need a hug and she needs to cry." 35

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All other questions appeared to come back to the need for crying or hugging without the need for much verbal communication as to the specifics of the emotional state. Apparently this couple shares the view that it is not as important to know the particulars concerning the need for emotional expression, but simply to attend to that need. An additional comment at the end of the interview was made by M(3). He indicated that he felt that the purpose of this research was pretty irrelevant because for him it seemed fairly obvious when someone was in emotional pain, and details of that pain don't necessarily need to be talked about." This comment was followed by silence from F(3). Individual Interviews Much like the individual interviews of C(l), little disclosure and differing information was gained during the individual interviews of C(3). In the individual interview, F(3) reinforced and essentially repeated everything that was discussed in the interview the day before. However, we were unable to ascertain whether or not those were her own thoughts and feelings or simply a 36

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parroting of her husband's assessments of how things should be. The researchers felt that full disclosure of her personal opinion was not forthcoming. M(3) appeared somewhat anxious and irritated during the individual interview, repeating and reinforcing only what he had stated in the joint interview. Interviewer Observations These interviewers observed that the interchanges between this couple appeared to be orchestrated primarily by the male, in a rigid format involving physical comforting, the appropriateness of that physical comforting in times of emotional need, and the need for little or no verbal discourse at those times. Possibly due to the lack of verbal discourse concerning emotional issues, it does not appear that this couple has developed a joint assessment of handling emotional issues. F(3) often sought information and clarity from M(3) about his answers to our questions. However, she offered no original opinions or insights concerning our questions or M(3)'s answers. In summary, I found the responses of each couple to be of such difference that no generalizations could be 37

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made. Within each couple, differences were such that even stereotypical generalizations could not be made. The only possible generalization that could be made is that each couple seemed to have previously arrived at an agreement as to how emotionally painful issues would be handled within their respective relationship. In the next chapter I discuss the findings in detail and draw conclusions. 38

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Chapter 5 DISCUSSION In discussing the results, I initially examined each couple's responses in respect to their joint interview and individual interviews. Within the discussion of each couple, positions on awareness, expression, and appraisal are examined using the literature reviewed and operational definitions as points of examination. Then a resulting conclusion is drawn for each couple. An overall conclusion for all couples with a re.ference table is presented. With respect to the information previously discussed in this section, a critique of the strengths and weaknesses encountered in this research is addressed. Finally, a discussion of the implications for future research concerning gender positions in the communication of emotional pain is presented. Interviews Couple 1 Awareness. Awareness was defined as the ability of one person, (the subject), to have knowledge of 39

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emotional pain in self or in spouses and others, (Goleman, 1995) Adhering to this definition of awareness, I find that couple(l) reported what they perceived as an equal capability to recognize emotional pain within each other. This claim by couple(l) is supported by the findings of Acitelli (1992), wherein individuals who have high relationship skills are more inclined to have awareness of emotional pain. At the same time, information 'found in the reports of couple(l) can also be logically contrary to statements from Acitelli's work. Such a contradiction would arise in reference to the female having more awareness of relationship issues. In fact, we observed both the male and the female shared nearly equal amounts of awareness in relationship issues. My general findings on awareness pertaining to couple(l) is that awareness of emotional pain was not problematic in their relationship and both individuals were satisfied with their degree of awareness. Expression. The definition of expression adopted for this research is the individual's ability to communicate his/her emotional pain upon his/her awareness in either or both non-verbal or verbal fashion. 40

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Couple(1) reported a satisfactory ability in both verbal and non-verbal expression of emotional pain as evidenced through the discussion of their own experiences. These findings challenge Graham and Ickes (1997) and Scotland et al, (1978) with reference to males and females conforming to traditional gender roles stereotypically set forth pertaining to emotional expression. Couple(1) appeared to have developed their own norms concerning their roles within their relationship, uninfluenced by traditional societal norms. Appraisal. Appraisal defined as the ability to recognize the derivation, evaluation, and processing of information pertaining to emotional pain within self or within another. Couple(1) reported satisfactory levels of appraisal of emotional pain and reported the lack of problems experienced in this area of communication. This couple avoided the unintended meanings of the receiver, meanings not intended by the sender as referred to by Howell (1982), in setting aside time to verbalize their emotional difficulties. These findings agree with Thomas and Fletcher (1997) in terms of the necessity to understand the emotional states of another in order to be 41

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more accurate in the appraisal of the emotional needs of another. Conclusion. Both individuals have high relationship skills. As a couple, they developed their own method of expression within the confines of their relationship. Misunderstanding in the appraisal of emotional needs rarely occurred due to this couple's ability to reach an on how to best achieve understanding in their relationship. A summary of the overall rating in the three categories of awareness, expression, and appraisal of couple(1) can be found in the table 5.1 in the overall conclusion on pg. [53]. Couple 2 Awareness. Again in review, awareness was defined as the ability of one person, (the subject), to have knowledge of emotional pain in self or in others (Goleman, 1995) In relation to the awareness of emotional pain as reported by C(2), I found F(2) reporting a lack of awareness to the emotional pain of M(2). M(2) also reported that F(2)1 by way of her willingness to over 42

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express, perhaps does not allow M(2) the opportunity to become aware of her emotional needs prior to her expression of them. An association was found here between the reports of C(2) and Tannen (1991) with respect to intimacy needs in females and the need for independence in males. F(2) endeavors to engage M(2) in conversation, a sign of seeking intimacy in females; while M(2), in not engaging in conversation about his needs, takes an independent position within the relationship. Also, in reference to Noller's (1993) c6ntention that addressed happiness within a marriage being related to the ability to code/decode emotional messages,. this couple not only clearly expressed dissatisfaction in their relationship, but attributed this dissatisfaction to their joint inability to be aware of each other's emotional needs. Expression. The definition of expression adopted for this research is the individual's ability to communicate his/her emotional pain upon his/her awareness in either or both non-verbal or verbal fashion. Couple(2) reported great difficulties in this area of communication. F(2) reported M(2) was reticent about the expression of emotional pain. At the same time, M(2) 43

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reported F(2) was overly expressive of her emotional pain. Therefore both F(2) and M(2) reported dissatisfaction in this area of emotional communication. This finding concurs with Graham and Ickes (1997) and Scotland et al. (1978) with reference to traditional gender roles wherein the female is very expressive and the male maintain silence. Appraisal. Appraisal is defined as the ability to recognize the derivation, evaluation, and processing of information pertaining to emotional pain within self or within another. Appraisal of the partner's emotional pain was seen as problematic within couple(2). Both reported dissatisfaction in their ability to accurately appraise the other person's emotional state. Here again we find a relationship between this couple's report and the findings of Thomas and Fletcher (1997) with respect to understanding and accuracy. Silence and over expression does not enable effective understanding, as was evidenced by the experiences of couple(2). Howell (1982) suggested that accurate appraisal is critical in understanding the intended meaning of communication. M(2) disclosed in the individual interview that he was trying to protect F(2) 44

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from his past pain experience and felt that his silence was the way to protect her. And yet with his silence, F(2) was clearly unable to make an accurate appraisal of M(2)'s emotional needs. In fact she attributed his silence to anger, perhaps even anger directed towards her need to achieve intimacy through communication. Viscott (1996) suggested that past emotions are manifested through anger. M(2)'s withholding certain emotional expressions, F(2) is unaware of the causes for his emotions in which she sees only anger. Lazarus (1991) addressed primary/secondary appraisal which becomes relevant to this case as F(2) feels she is unable to get beyond the primary appraisal stage with M(2) in order to attempt to work with secondary appraisal: future anxiety. The end result is the shut down of emotiqnal appraisal on the part of F(2), and the subsequent shut down of emotional expression by M(2). Conclusion. I suggest that the adherence to traditional gender roles in communication events was the primary reason this couple had difficulties in all three categories of emotional communication. In awareness, the over disclosure of F(2) gave M(2) little opportunity to become aware of F(2)'s emotional state. In addition, 45

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F(2)'s over zealousness to communicate her emotional needs left her with little opportunity to become aware of M(2)'s emotional needs. Due to the adherence of their gender roles, this couple also experienced emotional expression difficulties. The over expressed emotional state of F(2) left little opportunity for M(2) to express his emotional needs adequately. This lack of expression appeared to F(2) to be a sign of M(2)'s independence within the relationship. However, M(2) explained in the follow-up individual interview, that his need for independence in this category of expression was due to his prior emotional experience in Vietnam that he felt F(2) was incapable of understanding. Appraisal for this couple was problematic because the difficulty in awareness and expression of emotional needs for both M(2) and F(2) created misunderstandings and inaccuracies within the relationship communication. This further complicated any attempt by either individual to repair the relationship at the emotional level. This couple's overall rating in the three categories of awareness, expression, and appraisal is summarized in table 5.1 in the overall conclusion section on pg. (53]. 46

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Couple 3 Awareness. Emotional awareness is defined as the ability of one person, (the subject), to have knowledge of emotional pain in self or in others, (Goleman, 1995) Couple(3) reported general satisfaction in awareness of emotional pain. They specified that they use the overt cues of crying and touch in order to make their partner aware of emotional difficulties. This directly contradicts Tannen (1991) in reference to the traditional roles of intimacy and independence; both the male and the female sought the intimate types of cues in their ability to become aware. Expression. The definition of expression is the individual's ability to communicate his/her emotional pain upon his/her awareness in either or both non-verbal or verbal fashion. Couple(3) reported general complacency with respect to emotional expression. While F(3) is reported to cry as an emotional expression, M(3) reported that emotional expression is best served by close physical contact. For the female this confirms the findings set forth by Graham and Ickes (1997) and Scotland et al. (1978) with regard 47

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to conforming to traditional gender roles. However, M(3) contradicts his gender role by seeking relational comfort. This is perhaps explained by Golemans' (1995) contagion theory of emotions in which I found that the more expressive emotional state, (typically female), transferred to the person of lesser emotional expression, (typically male). Even though in the interview the predominate speaker was M(3), F(3) may be the dominate partner in expression and her dominate inmate expression transfers to M(3). Although differing in the mode of expression, couple(3) approached the expression of emotional pain with a general sense of complacency in that the expression of emotional pain was "obvious." Appraisal. Appraisal is defined as the ability to recognize the derivation, evaluation, and processing of information pertaining to emotional pain within self or within another. Couple(3) reported a mixed assessment of appraisal between M(3) and F(3). F(3) reported a general sense of complacency toward appraisal. She indicated that _M(3)'s appraisal ability was just "OK" the way it was and she didn't offer an opinion as to whether M(3)'s appraisal ability should be more or less participatory. While M(3) 48

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reported general satisfaction in F(3)'s appraisal of his emotional needs, he saw little importance for emotional appraisal beyond the expression of crying and touch; M(3) thought the expression of crying and touch in and of itself was enough for the handling of emotional events. According to Lazarus (1991), accurate appraisal of emotional communication allows for an improved empathic posture in the receiver of the emotional message, something that by all was not impQrtant to Couple(2). Conclusion. This couple expressed satisfaction in their abilities to be aware of intimate cues of awareness concerning emotion. Traditional gender roles did not play a part for the male. There was clear evidence that the traditional gender role for the female existed in both individuals. This couple indicated a complacent stance in their expression of emotion. It was neither good nor bad -it just was, and was just obvious. They appeared to not have considered any other options that might be available in expression and were comfortable in just accepting what was already obvious to them. 49

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In the area of appraisal, M(3) and F(3) were unwilling to directly confront the derivation of emotional pain in each other. No misunderstandings can occur if causes of emotional pain are not directly addressed. This couple emphasized that the only understanding that was necessary was the need to be expressive through crying and close physical contact. The willingness to not disclose the derivation of emotional pain was seen by each as an attempt by the couple to protect each other from past relationship experiences. This couple's overall rating in the three categories of awareness, expression, and appraisal is summarized in table 5.1 in the overall conclusion section on pg. [53]. Overall Conclusion The wide range of relationship differences evidenced between these three couples was surprising. For the most part differences are probably due to previous marital experiences and the length of marriages. Couple(l) are in their first marriage, both have high relationship skills and have developed their own way of handling emotional events, regardless of societal norms. Whether this privatized method continues to work in the years to 50

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come is yet to be seen, but currently this is the only couple that continually rated their abilities to handle emotional experiences as satisfactory in the three categories of awareness, expression, and appraisal. Couple(2)'s ability to handle emotional experiences is clearly affected by their prior experiences occurring long before their relationship began. The impact of at least one of those experiences that is still unresolved, Vietnam, continues to create emotional misunderstandings that the couple is currently unable to work through effectively. Couple(3) have been married the shortest period of time and are in their second marriages having apparently chosen not to verbally disclose the causes of their emotional pain to each other, or in our interviews. That could possibly be attributed to their prior marriages and the roles they assumed in those marriages. This decision of non-disclosure may account for the complacency rating this couple gave in reference to their relationship. Their apparent fear of bringing up past difficulties may have this couple into a rock the boat" attitude which is manifested as their reported state of complacency. Time will tell if this couple can maintain 51

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their agreed upon level of emotional non-disclosure as time goes by. Subsequently, the following chart is only a reflection of each couple's current rating of emotional positions in their relationship. Many individual and joint differences can account for the ratings, therefore I am hesitant to reach a definitive conclusion for the uniqueness within each relationship. What I can conclude is that a couple's emotional position is reached through a joint decision making that continues to evolve as the relationship continues. Therefore the results of this research can only be viewed as a static in the lives of these always changing relationships. 52

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I I Table 5.1 Reported Attributes of Partner COUPLES AWARENESS EXPRESSION APPRAISAL I Male Female Male Female Male Female Cl I s s I s I s s I C2 D D I D D I D I I C3 I s s I c I c s I I LEGEND: S Satisfactory degree of emotional communication. C Complacency toward degree of emotional communication. s D c D -Dissatisfactory level of emotional communication Table 5.2 Reported Attributes of Self COUPT,F.S AWARF.NF.SS F.XPRF.SSTON APPRATSAT, I Male Female Male Female Male Female C1 s s s s I s -C2 s s s s I D -C3 s s I c c I c I LEGEND: S Satisfactory degree of emotional communication. C Complucency tovmrd degree of emotionu.l communication. s s s D -Dissatisfactory level of emotional communication 53 I I I I I

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In summary, I found a general inconsistency between couples in gender positions in communicating emotional pain. Perhaps with a larger sample size more definitive conclusions and generalizations could be made. As is shown in the preceding table, and noted in the overall conclusion, inconsistencies exist within C2 and C3 between what their spouse reported and how the individual rated themselves in attributes of communicating emotional pain awareness, expression, and appraisal. While the attributes reported by both partners of couple 1 were consistent, the non-verbal signaling may suggest a demand" desire in answering researcher questions. The same non-verbal cues may also suggest an unspoken agreement within the relationship as to how this couple is willing to publicly disclose relationship information. Critique Strengths Personal interviews, as opposed to questionnaires, seemed to be an effective method in gleaning information for these types of initial studies. With personal interviews the verbal cues of tonality, pitch, etc. are accessible as well as the many, and perhaps more 54

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important, non-verbal cues. In this particular methodology, the use of two interviewers provided for better interpretation of the non-verbal and vocal cues when accessing the participant responses, especially across any perceived gender limitations. The experience of creating a relationship narrative about emotional events to outsiders may enhance further communication within the relationship concerning how emotions are dealt with. Specifically, in the case of C(2), both individuals have contacted these researchers on several occasions to report that they are beginning to talk more and are achieving a new understanding of their emotional difficulties. M(2) has indicated a change in several behavioral habits that F(2) perceived as destructive to their relationship. This can certainly be seen as an unintended strength in regard to this research. Weakness While at the time of acquiring the willing participants some information needed to be disclosed as to the focus of the study, this may have invoked a sense of anxiety in regards to the anticipated questions. This 55

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anxiety may have set up an unavoidable example of compliance to the positive concern of the researcher and projecting the researcher's desired outcome, known as the Hawthorne effect as described by Shaughnessy, and Zechmeister (1994, p. 337). Perhaps one weakness in this study is the self reporting of information. There must always be some question as to how much the participants in self reporting studies answer the questions in anticipation of giving the researcher the answers researchers want to hear, known as the "social demand" response described by Watt and van den Berg (1995, p. 294). Should still be the method of choice, I would suggest that the questions be distributed in advance of the actual interview. In so doing, the participants would be more familiar with the process and also be able to pick from one or two specific emotional issues from which to formulate their answers. The second interview with five of the six participants in this study gained very little additional information and in fact may have been perceived as an annoyance rather than further opportunity to express more personal responses to the questions. This could have 56

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been due to similar types of questions, however in one situation, the individual interview was successful in accessing further disclosure than that accessed in the couple interview. Therefore I conclude that individual interviews may be seen as a relational threat wherein no new information is disclosed by the individual in order to maintain a sense of relational solidarity. When there is no perceived relational solidarity to begin with, individuals may take this opportunity to be more expressive. Overall the topic of emotional sharing may be quite difficult to arrive at truly honest answers due to the inherent sensitivity of most emotionally charged issues. However, the rewards of such research may in fact be great. Larger sample sizes may offset many of these difficulties. Implications for Future Research It is the belief of this researcher that a better more accurate understanding of the awareness, appraisal, and expression of emotional pain would serve to improve marital relationships in general. Along this line, follow-up interviews in 3 to 5 years would be helpful to 57

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examine the changes over time in how couples deal with emotional events. The hope would be that as a result of our interviews the participants would revisit their individual and joint responses in their own minds and consequently strive to make any changes they might perceive as appropriate. I believe that the benefits to be derived from this research would best be suited for assimilation into an individuals life at a very early age. Since responses found both here and in literature reviewed might be at least in part attributed to early age socialization the only conclusion I can make is that changes are also best made at a very early age. In focussing research on methods of improving gender communication, rather than highlighting the differences and difficulties of gender communication, the information uncovered would certainly serve to improve rather than increase these differences. Future studies in this area concentrating on the similarities between genders, and improvement of those characteristics that seem different, may in fact facilitate the closure of what has become an enormous chasm of confusion. Perhaps participants in future studies could include equal numbers of participants both known to and not known to the 58

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interviewer. This approach, over a large sample size, might indicate differing degrees of disclosure dependent upon these two categories of participant. Using participants both known and not known to the researcher might increase the breadth of data gained and perhaps more effectively assess true gender positions on corrununication. Difficulty arises in attempting to assess whether relationships dissolve as a result of corrununication difficulties or if the corrununication diminishes as a result of the degradation of the relationship. Yet in either scenario, the better the understanding we have of communication, and in particular the corrununication of emotional pain, as well as emotions in general, the better chance any relationship has of remaining intact and enjoyable for both spouses. As long as our research remains focused on the positive aspects we are better able to enhance these positives and, in turn, perhaps dissolve troubling differences. 59

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APPENDIX A Questions (1): Individual Taking into consideration the individual differences known to exist between participants of any sample, these questions may not be asked dependent upon the answers given to previous questions. These questions serve as a guideline as to the investigation. 1. In what ways do you feel recognition of your partners need to express emotional pain is important to a satisfying relationship? 2. In what ways do you feel you express emotional pain? 3. Describe any similarities in the way each of you approach the need to express emotional pain? 4. Describe how you know when you spouse is experiencing emotional pain/emotional joy. 5. Relate how you approach your spouse concerning your own emotional pain or joy. 6. Relate how you typically approach your spouse when you believe he/she is experiencing emotional pain or joy. 60

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7. describe you sense of accuracy in reading and understanding your spouses' emotions, (Happy, sad, fear, etc. ) 8. How aware are you of your own emotions? 9. Would you like to be more aware? lO.Concerning the sharing of emotions, do you have any advice, concerns, desires? If so please elaborate. ll.What other comments you would like to make? 61

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APPENDIX B Questions (2): Couples Taking into consideration the individual differences known to exist between participants of any sample, these questions may not be asked dependent upon the answers given to previous questions. These questions serve as a guideline as to the investigation. 1. Describe the way you see yourselves expressing emotional pain? 2. Thinking of a specific situation, with out describing the situation, please describe and define this pain. 3. In what ways do you see the experience of emotional pain as differing from physical pain? 4. With respect to emotional pain, can you describe specifically how emotional pain feels and how you sense you display or express this emotional pain? 5. In what ways do you and your spouse differ in your expressions of emotional pain? 6. How do you recognize the need to your partners' need to express emotional pain? 62

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7. Tell me how you would define happy emotions. 8. Explain how you handle the expression of emotions in your relationship. 9. Please define painful/sad emotions. lO.In what ways do you see that you could improve your awareness of your spouses emotions. ll.How often do you, as a couple take time and talk about painful emotions? 12.What advice would you like to give others in respect to the sharing of painful emotions? 13.What other comments do you have? 63

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APPENDIX C Informed Consent Form (Individuals) On this date: I, -----------------------------------' State that I am over 18 years of age and that I voluntarily agree to participate in this research conducted by Don Werner, graduate student at the University of Colorado at Denver. I understand that ethical guidelines are being followed throughout this research. I understand that I will be taking part in two interviews, one with my spouse, the other one on one with Mr. Werner. I further understand that this project will involve two interviews of approximately one hour each, and that the nature of this research is to obtain information regarding the aspects of communication and recognition of need to communicate emotional pain within couples' relationships. Further, I understand that I am being asked not to relate specific 64

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situations, and that answering some of the questions may cause me some degree of discomfort. I acknowledge that Mr. Werner has explained to me fully the scope, procedure, and purpose of this research; that I may withdraw from participation at any time without prejudice or penalty; has offered to answer any questions I might have concerning this project; and has assured me that any and all information I give will remain confidential. I also acknowledge that Mr. Werner has explained to me that immediately following my participation in this project; I will be given a full explanation of the research and any further questions I may have at that time will be answered; that I have not been offered nor promised any reward or pay for my participation in this project. I will be given a copy of this form to keep. I understand the potential benefits may include, but are not limited to; relationship improvement potentials in emotional communication strategies, relationship 65

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improvement potentials in conflict resolution, and or relationship improvement potentials in empathic communication skills. I also understand that should I desire I may, at any time, contact the Office of Academic Affairs, CU Denver Building, suite 700, 556-2550 with questions rights as a research participant. Donald F. Werner Researcher Participant Signature 66

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Date: I, and APPENDIX D Informed Consent Form (Couples) -------------------I, -----------------------------------' State that I am over 18 years of age and that I voluntarily agree to participate in this research conducted by Don Werner, graduate student at the University of Colorado at Denver. I understand that ethical guidelines are being followed throughout this research. I understand that I will be taking part in two interviews, one with my spouse, the other one on one with Mr. Werner. I further understand that this project will involve two interviews of approximately one hour each, and that the nature of this research is to obtain information regarding the aspects of communication and recognition of need to communicate emotional pain within couples' relationships. Further, I understand that I am being asked not to relate specific situations, and that answering some of the questions may cause me some degree of discomfort. 67

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I acknowledge that Mr. Werner has explained to me fully the scope, procedure, and purpose of this research; that I may withdraw from participation at any time without prejudice or penalty; has offered to answer any questions I might have concerning this project; and has assured me that any and all information I give will remain confidential. I also acknowledge that Mr. Werner has explained to me that immediately following my participation in this project; I will be given a full explanation of the research and any further questions I may have at that time will be answered; that I have not been offered nor promised any reward or pay for my participation in this project. I will be given a copy of this form to keep. I understand the potential benefits may include, but are not limited to; relationship improvement potentials in emotional communication strategies, relationship improvement potentials in conflict resolution, and or relationship improvement potentials in empathic communication skills. I also understand that should I desire I may, at any time, contact the Office of Academic Affairs, CU Denver 68

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Building, suite 700, 556-2550 with questions rights as a research participant. Donald F. Werner Researcher Participant Signature Participant Signature 69

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