Gender, Emotion Work, and Relationship Quality: A Daily Diary Study

Melissa A Curran, Brandon T. McDaniel, Amanda M. Pollitt, Casey J. Totenhagen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

We use the gender relations perspective from feminist theorizing to investigate how gender and daily emotion work predict daily relationship quality in 74 couples (148 individuals in dating, cohabiting, or married relationships) primarily from the southwest U.S. Emotion work is characterized by activities that enhance others’ emotional well-being. We examined emotion work two ways: trait (individuals’ average levels) and state (individuals’ daily fluctuations). We examined actor and partner effects of emotion work and tested for gender differences. As outcome variables, we included six types of daily relationship quality: love, commitment, satisfaction, closeness, ambivalence, and conflict. This approach allowed us to predict three aspects of relationship quality: average levels, daily fluctuations, and volatility (overall daily variability across a week). Three patterns emerged. First, emotion work predicted relationship quality in this diverse set of couples. Second, gender differences were minimal for fixed effects: Trait and state emotion work predicted higher average scores on, and positive daily increases in, individuals’ own positive relationship quality and lower average ambivalence. Third, gender differences were more robust for volatility: For partner effects, having a partner who reported higher average emotion work predicted lower volatility in love, satisfaction, and closeness for women versus greater volatility in love and commitment for men. Neither gender nor emotion work predicted average levels, daily fluctuations, or volatility in conflict. We discuss implications and future directions pertaining to the unique role of gender in understanding the associations between daily emotion work and volatility in daily relationship quality for relational partners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-173
Number of pages17
JournalSex Roles
Volume73
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 9 2015

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Keywords

  • Daily diary
  • Daily volatility
  • Emotion work
  • Gender
  • Relationship quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Gender Studies

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