Couple conflicts have wide-ranging negative physiological, psychological and relational impacts on both members a couple. Emotions play a key role in conflicts and in particular, negative emotions have been found to escalation conflicts, whereas positive emotions will help a couple spiral toward resolution.
Since it is established that emotions can be trained (i.e., Klimecki, Leiberg, Lamm & Singer, 2012; Bolier, et al. 2013; Schumer, Lindsay, & Creswell, 2018), the purpose of the current study was to investigate experimentally which training methodology, between compassion training and cognitive reappraisal training, was the most effective to increase positive emotions and reduce negative emotions among couples. Couples were trained and tested in their emotional expressivity using the integrative coding methodology of the Specific Affect Coding System (SPAFF; Gottman, McCoy & Coan, 1996; Coan & Gottman, 2007).
The difference between the two groups was not statistically significant. However, the ratio for compassion training was numerically superior which seems to suggest that, although not significant, it seems to induce greater levels of positive emotions and reduced levels of negative emotions in comparison to cognitive reappraisal training. Differences in psychological and psychosocial mechanisms involved in the two training approaches are discussed. Future studies with a larger sample size and sufficient statistical power would be required to help clarify the difference in impact on compassion and cognitive reappraisal training methodologies.