The demand/withdraw (D/W) interaction pattern is a maladaptive cycle of behavior that is associated with a wide range of deleterious individual and relational outcomes. Partners’ emotional responding during couple conflict has long been theorized to play a central role in the occurrence of D/W. The interpersonal process model of D/W behavior suggests that each partner’s emotional responses are associated with their own as well as the other partner’s behavior in the D/W cycle and that the nature of these associations varies across partners. A prior test of the interpersonal process model provided support for sex and role specific associations between vocal emotional expression and demanding and withdrawing behaviors. The current study expands the conceptual frame of the interpersonal process model by incorporating subjective emotional experience. Hypothesized associations between subjective emotional experience, emotional expression, and role specific demanding and withdrawing behaviors are tested in a sample of 59 couples using an Actor-Partner Interdependence Model. Results reveal that spouses experience and express non-significantly different levels of negative affect but strongly differ in how the experience and expression of those emotions are related to demanding and withdrawing behaviors. High levels of women’s demanding behavior were associated with the combination of experiencing and expressing high levels of negative affect while high levels of withdrawing behavior were associated with high levels of experiencing negative affect but expressing low levels of negative affect for men. Implications of results for understanding emotional processes in maladaptive cycles and for clinical practice are discussed.
Leo, K., Crenshaw, A.O., Hogan, J.N., Bourne, S.V., Baucom, K.J.W., Baucom, B.R.W. (in press). A replication and extension of the interpersonal process model of demand/withdraw behavior: Incorporating subjective emotional experience. Journal of Family Psychology, 35(4), 534-545.