Seeing bad does good: Relational benefits of accuracy regarding partners’ negative moods

Eshkol Rafaeli*, Reuma Gadassi, Maryhope Howland, Ayelet Boussi, Gal Lazarus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


When would greater empathic accuracy (EA) be an asset and when would it not? In two studies of romantic couples (both employing daily diaries, the second also involving a lab-based video-recall paradigm), we explored the associations between EA (at the day-level, person-level, and in the lab) and an important relationship outcome: negative relationship feelings. Our results show that accuracy is tied more strongly to this relational outcome when negative (vs. positive) moods are the target of empathic judgments. The association between accuracy and (better) feelings was true for both perceivers and targets. Importantly, these associations emerged only in diary-based accuracy scores, and not in the lab-based ones. These results further support the importance of everyday empathic accuracy. They also highlight the need to consider such accuracy as multi-faceted, and in particular, to recognize the differential role of attending to our partners’ negative versus positive moods in daily life.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)353-369
Number of pages17
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Diary studies
  • Empathic accuracy
  • Feelings within the relationship
  • Romantic relationships


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