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

ith the participants for one year and discovered that those who found it easy to associate their partner with bad words and difficult to associate their partner with good words were more likely to separate in the next year. The ones "who did well on the partner-bad tests and poorly on partner-good had a 75 percent risk of breakup," Rogge said.

"They had the least positive and most negative subconscious attitude," he said.

At the study's start, participants had also reported on the strength of their relationships. When Rogge compared the word association test results with the self-reports, he found the tests did a better job of predicting breakups.

How is that possible? He explained that the task kept the conscious mind busy as the researchers assessed the participants' subconscious thoughts. "It could either be something they don't know themselves or are not willing to tell you," he said.

The game results could reveal the earliest signs of a relationship unraveling, possibly in time to save the partnership, the authors noted.

The new research is termed a "watershed" contribution by another expert, Dr. Eli Finkel, an associate professor of social psychology at Northwestern University, who has researched relationships.

The findings illustrate "the power of the unconscious to influence relationship outcomes," Finkel said. However, he added, "it's too early to know whether this unconscious measure will be useful for clinical or assessment purposes."

But Rogge said the strategy may eventually be used by therapists to assess relationship health and intervene if needed. Meanwhile, the test is available on his university Web site.

"You could do the test yourself and see where your attitudes lie," Rogge said.

"If you get feedback that says you don't have the strongest positive attitude and you are starting to get a subconscious negative attitude toward your partner, I would not immediately recommend breaking up," he sa
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