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Gut reaction could foretell marriage satisfaction

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Unconscious gut reactions may predict happy, and not-so-happy, marriages, a new study suggests.

In an experiment, researchers flashed the faces of participants’ spouses and asked the newlyweds to quickly, and unconsciously, determine if words such as awesome or horrible were positive or negative. Individuals who responded the quickest to positive words after seeing a picture of their spouse were happier over the 4-year-study period.

Questionnaires asking about couples’ conscious attitudes were not accurate predictors of the happiness of the pairs, but people’s automatic responses could foretell the course of the couple’s relationship, the team reports November 29 in Science.

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