Affective synchrony in dual- and single-smoker couples: Further evidence of "symptom-system fit"?

Michael J. Rohrbaugh, Varda Shoham, Emily A. Butler, Brant P. Hasler, Jeffrey S. Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Couples in which one or both partners smoked despite one of them having a heart or lung problem discussed a health-related disagreement before and during a period of laboratory smoking. Immediately afterwards, the partners in these 25 couples used independent joysticks to recall their continuous emotional experience during the interaction while watching themselves on video. A couple-level index of affective synchrony, reflecting correlated moment-to-moment change in the two partners' joystick ratings, tended to increase from baseline to smoking for 9 dual-smoker couples but decrease for 16 single-smoker couples. Results suggest that coregulation of shared emotional experience could be a factor in smoking persistence, particularly when both partners in a couple smoke. Relationship-focused interventions addressing this fit between symptom and system may help smokers achieve stable cessation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-67
Number of pages13
JournalFamily Process
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Couple interaction
  • Emotion regulation
  • Health-compromised smokers
  • Symptom-system fit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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