Tyler Graff, assistant professor of psychology at Wartburg College, recently published a research article he co-authored in PLOS ONE, an open access, peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science.
His research, “Spousal emotional support and quality of relationships dampen pupillary response to horror movies,” shows that couples who support each other during times of stress – such as watching horror movies – have improved their health. mental and physical compared to others in less favorable relationships.
“One of the main general implications of our results is that frightening, emotional, or difficult situations are best approached with a supportive person, especially a spouse,” Graff said. “Horror movies don’t necessarily reflect real life, but our bodies and brains react to stressful or frightening situations the same way they react to horror movies. Our nervous system has no difference between cinematic adrenaline and real adrenaline. We believe that dealing with stressful real-world situations would be better alleviated if approached with a supportive partner. “
As part of the study, 83 married couples were grouped together, on the basis of a self-reported relationship quality scale, to participate in the study in a favorable or ambivalent marital relationship. They were then randomly assigned to a spousal support condition (v. According to Graff, when individuals become stressed, their pupils dilate, so measuring pupil dilation provided them with an almost instantaneous, unconscious physiological stress response. .
The authors of the study found that emotional support from the spouse in the form of a grip dampens our body’s stress response, as evidenced by pupil dilation, and that having a favorable marital relationship reduces this even further. stress response.
Graff said the research is part of a larger body of relationship research that demonstrates how supportive relationships are a protective factor for health and well-being. Future research could examine the stress-relieving effects of people other than spouses in similar situations.
“Obviously, a spouse is a unique relationship, but would we see the same or similar benefits with other types of relationships? In addition, we might think that having a close friend or a good family member can also have beneficial effects in stressful situations, ”he said.