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Word Games May Predict Life of Relationship
Date:7/13/2010

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Want to know if your romantic relationship will last "'til death do you part" -- or if you are cruising toward a breakup?

A simple word association game may reveal the hidden truth about your union, a new study suggests.

Most research on successful relationships is flawed because it relies on asking the people involved how they feel about each other, said researcher Dr. Ronald Rogge, an associate professor at the University of Rochester and co-author of a study recently published online in the journal Psychological Science.

That strategy assumes partners know how happy they are -- and tell the truth -- which is not always the case, he said.

Instead, Rogge and his colleagues used word association games that are often used to detect bias to see what people really think about their partners.

The researchers asked 222 volunteers who were involved in a romantic relationship to supply the partner's first name and two other words related to the partner, such as a pet name.

Next, the participants watched a monitor as three types of words were presented, one at a time, in the following three categories: good (for example, vacation or sharing); bad (such as, death or criticizing); and partner-related (names or traits).

In the first exercise, participants were told to press the space bar if a good word or partner word showed up. "What we were really interested to see is how easy it was to have partner words paired with a good target," Rogge said.

In another exercise, the participants were instructed to press the space bar if they saw a bad word or partner word. "If they were really good at that, that would suggest in the back of their mind they had a negative attitude toward the partner," Rogge said.

The median age of the couples in one exercise was 25; in the other, 23.

Rogge's team followed-up w
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