Married couples may feel that they’re communicating to their spouse the right way, but they’re actually doing so no better than strangers.
The same predicament can be said of two people who are close friends, according to a study published in Science Daily.
Said Boaz Keysar, psychology professor at the University of Chicago, and a communication expert, "People commonly believe that they communicate better with close friends than with strangers. That closeness can lead people to overestimate how well they communicate, a phenomenon we term the 'closeness-communication bias.'"
Kenneth Savitsky, Keysar’s colleague, conducted an experiment wherein a total of 24 couples were made to sit on chairs with their backs facing each other. The couples had to try to understand what the other was going through.
The researchers used common phrases to check if the spouses would respond better when understanding their partner or from phrases from people they did not know. The spouses would overestimate their capability of understanding the other, and all the more so when they were communicating to strangers.
You would think that couples would be able to interpret each other more accurately than two strangers would of each other, but the results were almost identical.
Commented Savitsky, "Although speakers expected their spouse to understand them better than strangers, accuracy rates for spouses and strangers were statistically identical. This result is striking because speakers were more confident that they were understood by their spouse."
"Some couples may indeed be on the same wavelength, but maybe not as much as they think. You get rushed and preoccupied, and you stop taking the perspective of the other person, precisely because the two of you are so close," said Savitsky further.
SOURCES: • January 19, 2011. “Couples Sometimes Communicate No Better Than Strangers” ScienceDaily.com • Kathleen Blanchard RN. January 20, 2011. “Sometimes couples communicate worse than strangers” EMaxHealth.com • William Hans-Chicago. January 21, 2011. “Couples communicate same to strangers” Futurity.org