The Secret to Relationship Success Is as Simple as This

In a study published online last month in the journal “Psychological Science, researchers at Florida State University, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Minnesota found that people who viewed pictures of their spouse interspersed with photos of baby animals, beaches or sunsets, saw a significant boost in their relationship satisfaction.

The Wall Street Journal had an article about this study in today’s paper.

The researchers brought into their lab 120 couples married for three to four years. They then showed the participants a slideshow once every three days for six weeks. Half viewed one that intermittently included photos of their spouse paired on a split screen with positive images (of puppies, bunnies and sunsets) and positive words (“incredible,” “terrific,” “amazing”). Half viewed one with photos of their partner intermittently paired with neutral images (of a chair, a shed, gravel) and neutral words (“If,” “like,” “when”). Researchers measured the participants’ implicit attitudes toward their partner every two weeks for eight weeks, and again asked them how they felt about their spouse.

The results indicated that the people who viewed the bunnies and puppies images became happier in their relationship. Their implicit feelings improved, and they also reported that they felt better about their partner.

Social psychologists call this evaluative conditioning. It’s what happens when our mind learns to associate an object or person with a feeling—good or bad—that we had when we were previously around that object or person.

So I decided to give it a try, and created my own slideshow (the images below should advance automatically)

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Forget about needing eight weeks. I just watched that slideshow a few times, and I felt like a newlywed.

Who knew relationships were this easy…


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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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