Physical Instability Can Affect Your Relationship, Says New Study, Giving A Whole New Meaning To The Term "Rocky Relationships"

A new study shows that physical instability may negatively affect romantic relationships. Just as physical warmth makes us see the warm personality traits in others, physical shakiness can make us see the shakiness in our relationships. In a series of studies conducted by psychological scientist, Amanda Forest of the University of Pittsburgh, in conjunction with colleagues at the University of Waterloo, Forest and company wanted to test the idea of “embodied cognition.” In other words, it’s the idea that the mind is not only connected to the body, but that the body influences the mind. Whoa. Right?

Researchers tested the idea of embodied cognition on relationships. Observing only people in committed relationships, they had some subjects experience some form of physical instability while they were in the lab. These forms of instability include standing on one leg or sitting on a wobbly chair. Then, participants were asked questions regarding their relationships from “How confident are you that your partner will be together in six months? to “How satisfied are you in your romantic relationship?” When all was said and done, the study found that the people who experienced the physical instability reported as having less satisfaction and commitment to their relationships.


According to Wray Herbert of The Huffington Post, an 8.0 earthquake in the Chinese province of Sichuan left behind injury, death, destruction, and a dramatic spike in the divorce rate. Herbert said, “The spike might have been a coincidence, though that’s unlikely…It could be that the turbulence itself—the shaking and crumbling of the physical environment in Sichuan—triggered cognitive and emotional turbulence, undermining personal commitment in the process.”

I don’t know. To me, the theory seems a little bit ridiculous. I mean, don’t disasters usually find a way of bringing people together, not tearing them apart? If the ground is shaking like crazy, I'm not going to be thinking, "Oh, this is a great life metaphor for my relationship. I think I should break up with my boyfriend." I would be more concerned about him falling into a crack in the earth or getting swallowed by 50-foot waves. Yeah, I watch way too many disaster movies.

Either way. Maybe the researchers do have a valid point. Or maybe the people already had hidden feelings of doubt in their relationships but just needed a little shake to get it out of them.

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