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By using a future-oriented perspective

The Value of Prospective Reasoning for Close Relationships

Alex C. Huynh, Daniel Y.-J. Yang, Igor Grossmann

Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2016

Research details

Type of paper: Primary Empirical Study

Sample size: 520

Open Access: No


We examined how adopting a future (vs. present)-oriented perspective when reflecting on a relationship conflict impacts the process of reasoning and relationship well-being. Across two studies, participants instructed to think about how they would feel in the future (vs. present) expressed more adaptive reasoning over a relationship conflict—low partner blame, greater insight, and greater forgiveness, which was then associated with greater relationship well-being—for example, more positive versus negative emotions about the relationship and expectations that the relationship will grow. These findings were driven by a decrease in person-centered language when reflecting on the conflict. Implications for understanding how temporal distance and reasoning impact relationship conflict management are discussed.