New Study Examines Differences Between Informational Support and Emotional Support
When John Gray wrote Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, his primary message was that in relationships men are usually the problem solvers and women are usually the ones wanting more empathy and understanding. Many therapists were critical of Gray’s book written in 1992, citing lack of research for his conclusions about gender differences. However, studies about the differences between informational support and emotional support conducted by University of Maryland and Wyoming psychologists Lorenzo, Barry and Khalifian, support John Gray’s theory. Click here to read the study.
In their published report, the psychologists studied 114 couples female/male who were newlywed and in their first marriage. They were studying the differences between two types of support, emotional support and informational support. They were examining the type of support preferred by an individual vs. the support type he or she received to see how overproviding or underproviding of the two types of support affected the happiness of the individual in the marriage.
Study Reveals Emotional Support Preferred By Both Parties
The study found that men lean towards providing informational advice by trying to problem solve while women often prefer emotional support so that they feel that they are being listened to and understood. Among the males who wanted informational support, the more of that type of support they received the happier they were. Among those women who preferred emotional support, the more informational support they received the more prone they were to depression. Even with these differences the study shows that both parties in the relationship are happier when given emotional support.
So the bottom line take away message of this study is while differences exist in the type of support a wife or husband prefer, everyone wants understanding and having their feelings recognized. If in doubt what type of support to offer, go with understanding NOT problem solving!
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Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.