It has been said that if you It has been said that if you

Research Puts Focus on Positive Thinking in Relationships

Couple walks through jungle enjoying sceneryIt has been said that if you focus on something, you get more of it – for better or for worse. If you focus on what you do not want in a spouse, you will most likely continue to see those things that you do not want. However, if you focus on the things you do want, like love, warmth, and compassion, you may actually start getting those exact things. According to Robert Ackerman of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas, Dallas, clinical research should also focus on positive things in order to encourage more positive behavior.

Ackerman believes that the results of his recent study support this theory. In his study, Ackerman evaluated the relationships of over 260 adults. He looked at how they resolved conflict with their partners; how aggressive, hostile, or compassionate they were; and how prevalent those qualities were in their partners. What was unique about this study was that the participants had been videotaped over a period of 17 years, beginning when they were in middle school. Over that time, Ackerman assessed how well these young people resolved conflict with their parents and what the family and parental climate was in the home. Based on nearly two decades of data, Ackerman discovered that teens that grew up in warm, supportive, and respectful households were more likely to have warm, supportive, and respectful romantic relationships in adulthood.

The findings of this study show that positive communication, open engagement, responsiveness, warmth, and assertiveness all promoted supportive loving interactions during childhood that led to positive adult relationships. Although much research has focused on the negative consequences of hostile, aggressive environments and the deleterious outcomes of children from divorced families or families with a history of abuse, less attention has been given to the many positive exchanges that occur in families. Ackerman said, “I think that studying more positive behaviors is important because it may shed more insight on how to better enhance romantic relationships.” Hopefully this research will set the trend for a new direction in research aimed at improving relationships of all kinds, including intimate, social, professional, and global ones.

(2013). Study finds good marriages more likely for teens of happy homes. University of Texas at Dallas News Center (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

© Copyright 2013 All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Sparrow Head

    April 5th, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    Never have I felt better about my marriage than when I started to think positively.

    How you think and what you focus on us often a good indication of how and what you feel.

    But let me tell you: it is not as simple as just ‘thinking positively’.

    Most of us will find it hard to do that at first.

    But when that does happen things definitely do change for the better.

  • deidre

    April 6th, 2013 at 7:15 AM

    I find that this is true in many areas of our lives.
    When we choose to focus only on the negative, then most of the time this is what we are going to get. But when we look at the flip side and instead decide that we will focus more on the positive things, doesn’t this alone make you feel just a little bit better about life? I know that there are the days when all I want to do is harp on my husband about all of the things that he does wrong and why I do it better. But then I have to take a step back and think for a minute about all of the things that he does right, and that’s a lot! So why drive him away with constant nagging when I get a much better outcome when I praise him for how much I love him and how much he helps me and the kids out in our daily lives? That’s focusing on the positive even during times when I don’t want to, but it makes life so much better when we all give it just a little bit more in that direction.

  • AlstoN

    April 7th, 2013 at 6:14 AM

    What should I do when I am in a committed relationship but with a man who can never see the bright side of anything? He is so negative most of the time, and even though I think I want to spend the rest of my life with him, I am not sure that I can because I feel like he brings me down with him. And I don’t mean that to sound bad like I know it does but he is never in a great frame of mind and that doesn’t help me at all even when I am trying my best to bring out the positive side of life. I am afraid that if I continue to be who I really am he will get turned off and wil leave. But I am afraid I might have to do the very same thing. Is there ever any way to turn it alla round and help him see how much better things could be if only he would stop looking at things from such a negative angle?

  • Mena

    April 8th, 2013 at 3:56 AM

    There is no big reveal here that those who grow up in loving homes then. . . guess what? develop loving relationships for themselves.

  • Salina Gomez

    April 8th, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    I have seen so many relationships fall apart because the focus of each partner is what that the other partner lacks. There are comparisons to other friends and how much their spouses do, etc. the focus here is on the ‘lack’ – I have a healthy wonderful relationship. However, when I do sometimes have these thoughts, I have to consciously catch my thought and shift focus on positive’s not always easy but the more I practice the better I get at it..thank you for sharing…

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.