Symptom-system fit in couples: Emotion regulation when one or both partners smoke

Varda Shoham, Emily A. Butler, Michael J. Rohrbaugh, Sarah E. Trost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


In a laboratory smoking experiment, 25 couples in which 1 or both partners continued to smoke despite 1 of them having heart or lung disease discussed a health-related disagreement before and during a period of smoking. Immediately afterward, the partners used independent joysticks to recall their continuous emotional experience during the interaction while watching themselves on video. Participants in dualsmoker couples reported increased positive emotion contingent upon lighting up, whereas those in single-smoker couples reported the opposite. The results highlight the role of smoking in close relationships, particularly in regulating emotional closeness when both partners smoke. Attention to this fit between symptom and system may be useful in helping couples achieve stable cessation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)848-853
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2007


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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