The interactive effects of sensory modalities of relating on romantic relationship outcomes
The concept of sensory channels of interaction (e.g., touch, hearing, sight, etc.) has been previously studied in the context of romantic relationships. Recent work (Miron, Jiang, Weisensel, Patterson, & Rizo, 2018) has focused on how romantic partners’ differential preferences for sensory channels of relating predict different relationship outcomes. However, this work has focused on sensory preferences rather than on actual use of sensory modalities in romantic relationships. The current study examined the interactive effects of intimates’ sensory modality importance and their actual use of sensory modalities on relationship satisfaction and attraction (passionate love and liking). Couples responded to a survey measuring their personal use and preference for various sensory modalities of relating to their current romantic partner, relationship satisfaction, and attraction to partner, and relationship demographic information. Both partners in the romantic dyad individually responded to the questionnaires. Multivariate regression analyses revealed that partners’ compatibility with regard to hearing and substitute channel and to some lesser extent compatibility in sight predicted satisfaction, liking, and passionate love, whereas compatibility in touch and bodily sensations did not significantly predict relationship outcomes for neither males nor females. Paired samples t-tests also revealed that male and female partners differ in their ratings of importance and use of sensory modalities, specifically with regards to hearing, bodily sensations, sight, and substitute channels. The current study has implications extending into relationship development and marriage/family therapy with results suggesting that use and importance of sensory modalities are both tied to relationship outcomes, such as satisfaction, liking and passionate love for both males and females.