Spatial proximity in relationships research methods: The effect of partner’s presence during survey completion on shared reality in romantic couples’ daily lives

M. Catalina Enestrom, Eran Bar-Kalifa, Yael Bar-Shachar, John E. Lydon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Spatial proximity may be an artifact of relationships research methodology; however, little work has explored how this feature of research designs influences perceptions of one’s relationship, particularly shared reality (i.e., experiencing a commonality of inner states). The present research tested whether spatial proximity would independently contribute to shared reality in couples’ daily lives. In 2 daily diary studies, each across 3–4 weeks (N1 = 76 couples, 3694 observations; N2 = 84 couples, 3073 observations), participants indicated whether or not their partner was spatially proximal, and also completed measures of shared reality and relationship satisfaction. Spatial proximity to one’s partner resulted in higher shared reality on the day of the survey completion and predicted increases in shared reality from the previous day, but this effect did not spillover into the following day. These findings held controlling for conflict, shared daily experiences (e.g., cooking together), and shared survey experiences (i.e., whether they completed the survey at the same time). In addition, this effect was unique to shared reality, whereby spatial proximity did not predict relationship satisfaction. However, shared reality was associated with increases in relationship satisfaction across the daily diary period. Thus, researchers should consider spatial proximity when developing their research design as it may influence shared reality, which has implications for relationship well-being.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • daily diary
  • romantic relationships
  • shared experiences
  • shared reality
  • spatial proximity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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