Imagined Interactions and Gottman Method: Predicting Relational Dissatisfaction

Olivia K DeAngelo, Tennessee State University


Romantic relationships have been studied by many researchers over the years.John and Julie Gottman were able to predict the potential divorce of couples with over 90percent accuracy through qualitative research studies (Gottman, 1994a; Gottman, 1994b;Gottman & Levenson, 1992, 2000; Gottman & Gottman, 2020). A common method ofboth individual and marital counseling is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Byimproving communication with one’s partner and establishing commitment to change,CBT often led to improved marital satisfaction (Ebadi et al., 2018). An area that had yetto be explored in depth was how internal conversations one has about their partner mayaffect marital satisfaction. This study took a quantitative approach to how one’s imaginedinteractions (II’s) and their overall relationship satisfaction was mediated by Gottman’s 4Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Criticism and contempt both mediated the relationshipbetween valence II’s and relationship satisfaction, as well as defensiveness mediated therelationship between conflict management II’s and relationship satisfaction. The onehypothesis that was not supported was that stonewalling did not mediate the relationshipbetween catharsis II’s and relationship satisfaction. This study showed that one’simagined interactions about their partner and the behaviors in which they engaged led toan overall negative relationship satisfaction with a small effect size. This study aimed forclinicians to be able to quantitatively understand a couple’s cognitions through imaginedinteractions, and their actions through Gottman’s 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, to beable to provide more tailored therapeutic treatment through a CBT lens.

Subject Area

Counseling Psychology

Recommended Citation

Olivia K DeAngelo, "Imagined Interactions and Gottman Method: Predicting Relational Dissatisfaction" (2022). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI29258921.