The Relationship of Physiological Arousal with Demand and Withdraw Behavior: Examining the Accuracy of the Escape-Conditioning Hypothesis

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Abstract

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.

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