Relationship Doubts? Science Says Trust Your Gut

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29_Day01_528Photographed By Winnie Au.
Anyone who's into rom-coms is probably familiar with the phrase "trust your gut." Of course, life experience teaches us that sometimes, fear, self-doubt, and a number of other nasty emotions can make our "gut" untrustworthy, telling us to do things that may not reflect our true feelings. But, a new study published in the journal Science suggests that our instincts are usually right — at least when it comes to that all-too-common feeling of "cold feet."

The study, conducted by researchers at Florida State University, involved 135 newlywed couples, where each subject was shown a photo of their new spouse for less than one second. Next, researchers presented them with one word to describe their spouse, either positive (like "delightful") or negative ("disgusting"); the newlyweds then gave their gut response to the description as either "good" or "bad." The rapid-fire aspect of the exercise was designed to elicit the subjects' "automatic attitudes" — arguably, their most honest response, instead of allowing time for subjects' brains and emotions to dictate what might be seen as an "appropriate" answer.

The couples also filled out a questionnaire on their level of satisfaction with their marriage, every six months for four years. The results showed that newlywed bliss was common across the board, but that as time went on, more and more of the survey results began to sync up with the spontaneous attitudes recorded at the beginning of the study. In other words, those who had doubts at the beginning of the marriage were more likely to be dissatisfied with their relationship later on. Maybe we should be trusting that gut, after all. (The Washington Post