More About the Study
In a study that was published in the Journal of Personal and Social Relationships, researchers sought to determine whether being physically close to someone over time could have an impact on how their bodies co-regulate. Over two weeks, they observed 10 couples who ‘ve been together for 14 to 65 years. Each couple wore a heart rate monitor and a small-proximity sensor that could recognize when partners were touching closely.
In the end, they found that couples were more likely to have their heart rates synchronize daily the longer they had been together. To put it another way, if one family member’s heart rate rose, the other would probably follow soon after, and vice versa. Every time they were together throughout the day, these changes persisted.
Couples’ Interactions Change!
When one partner sets off the other, they begin a special couple-level dance that has an impact on their physiology and daily routines. This is what Brian Ogolsky, Ph.D., an associate professor and lead author at the University of Illinois, explained about the study. They found that each day is a unique context that can change depending on the circumstances. Couple interactions, attitudes, and behaviors change frequently whether they are near or far from one another.
To examine how these dynamics play out on a bigger scale and how they impact people’s health, Dr. Ogolsky is keen to point out that further research is necessary. He says that if they want to understand the interaction patterns that occur within couples, they need to start focusing their attention on micro-processes. These are small interaction patterns that can happen over a day. These provide information regarding the nature of how interactions between spouses develop on an ongoing basis.