Emotional convergence between people over time

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003 May;84(5):1054-68. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.5.1054.


The authors propose that people in relationships become emotionally similar over time--as this similarity would help coordinate the thoughts and behaviors of the relationship partners, increase their mutual understanding, and foster their social cohesion. Using laboratory procedures to induce and assess emotional response, the authors found that dating partners (Study 1) and college roommates (Studies 2 and 3) became more similar in their emotional responses over the course of a year. Further, relationship partners with less power made more of the change necessary for convergence to occur. Consistent with the proposed benefits of emotional similarity, relationships whose partners were more emotionally similar were more cohesive and less likely to dissolve. Discussion focuses on implications of emotional convergence and on potential mechanisms.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Courtship
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Personality / physiology
  • Power, Psychological
  • Sex Factors
  • Students / psychology
  • Time Factors