Date of Award

7-27-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Derek Hatfield, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Laura Knight, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

David Myers, Ph.D.

Abstract

John Gottman popularized the role that negative communication patterns can have in romantic relationships (Gottman, 2001). More specifically, the presence of his "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" has been found to predict relationship satisfaction and divorce in couples (Gottman, 1999). The "Four Horsemen" refer to criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. Gottman (1999) suggests that certain skills like mindfulness can be used to enhance communication and guard against the Four Horsemen in couples. Mindfulness refers to the act of intentionally focusing one’s attention on the present moment in a nonjudgmental, non-comparative, and accepting way that is void of evaluation (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). Wachs and Cordova (2007) and Barnes, Brown, Krusemark, Campbell, and Rogge (2007) suggest that mindfulness may enhance relationships by, among other benefits, improving communication. The present study aimed to shed light on the possible relationship between mindfulness and the negative communication patterns described as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Additionally, the study aimed to explore the possible relationship between the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and overall relationship satisfaction in college student dating relationships. Results indicate that two of the Four Horsemen, Criticism and Contempt, were significant predictors of relationship satisfaction. Mindfulness was not a significant predictor, nor was it found to mediate the relationship between the Four Horsemen and relationship satisfaction.

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