Seeman, J. C., Vogel, D. L., Madon, S., & Heimerdinger-Edwards, S. (2011). The power of touch: Nonverbal communication within heterosexual married dyads. The Counseling Psychologist, 39, 762-785.
Researchers have suggested that one function of touch in mixed-sex interactions is to exert influence over another person. Yet, theories offer different explanations as to when women and men will use touch as an influence strategy. The Gender Politics Hypothesis (Henley, 1977; 1995) proposes that men touch more as a way to maintain inequalities present in society. In turn, the Dyadic Power Theory (Dunbar, 2004) proposes that both women and men will touch more depending on their goals in a given situation. The person initiating a topic of disagreement is more likely to touch in order to try and influence the other person to agree with their position. However, researchers have rarely examined the different assertions of these theories within intimate relationships. The present study, with 67 married couples, was designed to provide an initial test of these theories. We focused on four types of touch across two problem-solving topics: one chosen by each spouse. Consistent with the Dyadic Power Theory, results indicated that when couples discussed topics chosen by wives, wives exhibited more touches. However, no differences in these forms of touch emerged when couples discussed topics chosen by husbands. Implications for marital counseling and research are discussed.
Vogel, D. L., Werner-Wilson, R. J., Liang, K., Cutrona, C. E., Seeman, J., & Hackler, A. H. (2008). Physiological arousal with demand and withdraw behaviors: Examining the accuracy of the escape-conditioning hypothesis. Sex Roles, 59, 871-879.
The escape-conditioning model suggests that husbands experience greater physiological arousal during marital conflict than their wives. This greater arousal is hypothesized to lead to withdrawal from conflict in order to lessen the arousal. The present results, based on a U.S. sample of 64 heterosexual couples, found no support for this model. During problem-solving discussions, husbands did not exhibit greater skin conductance and did not report greater arousal than their wives. Furthermore, skin conductance was negatively linked to withdraw behavior. These results, while not consistent with the escape-conditioning model, are in line with recent studies that have explicitly examined gender differences in other types of physiological arousal during marital conflict.
Vogel, D. L., Murphy, M. J., Werner-Wilson, R. J., Cutrona, C. E., & Seeman, J. (2007). Sex differences in the use of demand and withdraw behavior in marriage: Examining the social structure hypothesis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 54, 165-177.
Studies consistently show sex differences in married couples’ use of demand and withdraw behavior. The social structure hypothesis proposes that these differences are the result of power differentials between spouses. This study examined the link between three aspects of marital power and demanding and withdrawal behavior. Opposite of social structure predictions, wives did not possess less decision-making ability or access to resources and appeared to exhibit greater situational power (i.e., domineering and dominant behaviors) than their husbands during problem-solving discussions. Furthermore, the spouse who exhibited the most demands also exhibited the most domineering and dominant behaviors, while the spouse who exhibited the most withdrawal exhibited the least domineering and dominant behaviors during problem-solving discussions.
Wester, S. R., Pionke, D. R., & Vogel, D. L. (2005). Male gender role conflict, gay men, and same-sex romantic relationships. Men and Masculinity, 6, 195-208.
Some theorists have suggested that the behaviors associated with a traditional male gender role socialization, the restriction of affection for other men being one example, as well as their potential for negative consequences, are doubled within gay men’s same-sex romantic relationships. This manuscript reports on two studies testing this idea; in Study 1 and Study 2 ANOVA comparisons between single gay men and gay men in a same-sex relationship fail to confirm a doubling of male gender role variables. At the same time, hierarchical regression results did demonstrate a small relationship between the traditionally socialized male gender role and gay men’s relationship satisfaction. Implications for counseling and future research are discussed.
Vogel, D. L., Wester, S. R., Heesacker, M., & Madon, S. (2003). Confirming sex stereotypes: A social role perspective, 48, 519-528.
This research examined whether emotional vulnerability leads women and men to confirm sex stereotypes. Emotional vulnerability is a state where one is open to having one's feelings hurt or to rejection. Drawing on the tenets of social role theory and research related to normative expectations, we propose that emotional vulnerability leads to stereotype confirmation, as normative expectations are less risky and easier to enact than non-normative behavior. Fifty-nine dating couples were randomly assigned to a high emotional vulnerability or low emotional vulnerability discussion with their partner. When the degree of emotional vulnerability was high men confirmed sex-stereotypes. Women's behavior, on the other hand, was not significantly affected by condition. We discuss these findings in terms of the domain in which sex-typed behaviors are occurring and the social pressures to act in accordance with gender norms.
Vogel, D. L., & Karney, B. (2002). Demands and withdrawal in newlyweds: Elaborating on the social-structure hypothesis. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 19(5), 685-701.
Why is it that, when interacting about a marital problem, wives are more likely to be make demands whereas husbands are more likely to withdraw? The social structure hypothesis suggests that wives are more likely to demand because marital relationships tend to favor husbands, who are accordingly more committed to maintaining the status quo. To elaborate on this explanation, the current study used observational data to examine correlates of demand and withdraw behaviors in 82 newlywed couples. Analyses revealed: a) that gender differences in demand/withdraw emerge only during discussions of problems selected by wives, b) that these differences are driven by differences in rates of demanding, not withdrawal, c) that demand and withdraw behaviors are not significantly associated in newlyweds, d) that both behaviors are associated in predicted ways with how important the topic is to each spouse.
Vogel, D. L., Tucker, C. M., Wester, S. R., & Heesacker, M. (1999). The impact of sex and situational cues on the endorsement of traditional gender-role attitudes and behaviors in dating couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 16(4), 459-473.
This investigation examines the effects of sex of participant, sex-role orientation, and conversation topic on women's and men's endorsement of traditional gender-role attitudes and behaviors within intimate relationships. Sixty dating couples were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: a discussion about the intimacy in their relationship; a discussion about everyday things; or a no-treatment control condition. The intimate-conversation condition elicited greater subscription to traditional gender-role attitudes and behaviors than the other two conditions. This was true for both men and women. Participants' own feminine or masculine sex-role orientation was not related to Their endorsement of gender-role attitudes and behaviors. These findings underscore the importance of examining specific situational influences, such as the nature of the conversation topic, in understanding the dynamic nature of peoples' gender-role attitudes and behaviors.
Vogel, D. L., Wester, S. R., & Heesacker, M. (1999). Dating relationships and the demand/withdraw pattern of communication. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 41, 297-306.
The current investigation examines whether a female-demand/male-withdraw pattern occurs in dating relationships and whether this response increases during discussions of difficult topics. One hundred and eight individuals (female = 60, male = 48) currently in a dating relationship completed the CPQSF regarding either a difficult or non-difficult discussion. The racial composition of the undergraduate student population at the time the study was conducted was 68.8% Caucasian, 8.9% Hispanic, 8.9% International, 6.0% African-American, 5.6% Asian-American, and 1.8% Native American (data on socioeconomic status were unavailable). Results show that dating couples do employ a predominantly female-demand/male withdraw pattern which increases in response to difficult discussions. However, the current investigation also found that many dating couples employed male-demand/female-withdraw or equal demand/withdraw patterns. Post-hoc tests also showed that couples exhibiting either female-demand/male-withdraw or male-demand/female-withdraw patterns were more ingrained in specific negative behavior patterns, employed more demand/withdraw behaviors, and exhibited less positive behaviors than couples exhibiting can equal demand/withdraw pattern.