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Researchers Devise Quiz To Predict Success of Relationships

Researchers have used the quiz to accurately predict the outcome of whether more than 50 couples would split up over a 12 month period.

The test uses a word a psychological technique to discover what people really think of their partners by how easy they find it to associate them with positive or negative words.

If someone found it easier to automatically associate pleasant words with their better half the scientists discovered they had a stronger relationship and were more likely to stay together.

However "relationship decay" could still kick in and increase the latent "break up risk".

Of the 116 people who took part, 19 split up from their partners, equivalent to 16 per cent, the figure predicted by the team of researchers, from the University of Rochester, in America.

Study author Professor Ronald Rogge said: "What really excited me in our results was that our measure seemed to do a better job of predicting outcomes than what the people told us about their relationships.

"People who exhibited negative feelings to their partners were about seven times more likely to break up over the next year."

For this test, the volunteers were asked to fill in a questionaire about their relationship as well as undergo the word association test.

Previous studies of relationships have found it difficult to find out how much someone is satisfied in their relationship because people will tell scientists different things to how they are really feeling.

Prof Rogge said: "The difficulty with that is, that assumes that they know themselves how happy they are, and that's not always the case.

"To make things worse, a lot of people don't want to tell you if they're starting to feel less happy in their relationship."

However, scientists believe their new test, using word association and a time limit, gave them a true reflection of the participant's feelings.

Prof Rogge said: "It really is giving us a unique glimpse into how people were feeling about their partners - giving us information that they were unable or unwilling to report."

The test is based on a technique often used to determine racism or bias, other feelings people have trouble admitting to themselves or researchers.

Volunteers supplied the partner's name and watched a monitor as three types of words were presented - good words like peace or sharing, bad words like death and tragedy, or the name of their partner.

The participants took two tests - press the space bar when they saw good words or partner related words and press it when they saw bad words and partner related words.

In total 222 volunteers took part, although 116 took the follow up survey to find out whether they were still together 12 months later.


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