Skip to main content

What Could Your Partner Do To Improve Your Relationship?

Sep 20 2023 • 3 min read

If you’ve ever been in a long-term relationship, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to think of a few things your partner could do (or could have done) to improve the relationship. Perhaps they could listen more, for example, or be more attentive?

At CogCo, we wanted to see whether our new platform – ekota – might offer some new answers to the age-old question of what makes a relationship work. The platform allows people to answer a question (in this case ‘what could your partner do to improve your current relationship?’) but also to vote on whether they agree or disagree with responses submitted by others.

A participant might, for instance, agree with people who responded that their partner could ‘stop lying’ and ‘be more engaged’. They might also submit their own response by suggesting that their partner could ‘be more supportive’, which other people would then vote on. This allows a rich range of ideas to be put forward, and for us to see where there is most consensus and disagreement amongst participants.

Perhaps even more interestingly, it also allowed us to see if there was any link between people’s agreement and disagreement with certain responses and their self-assessed relationship satisfaction, which we asked them to rate on a scale from 1 (very unsatisfied) to 7 (very satisfied) before the main ekota study.

We invited 546 people in the UK to participate in this study, letting the discussion evolve over the course of a week as individuals both voted on others’ responses and submitted their own. In total, 12,108 votes were cast on 81 different responses.

Our main finding related to the importance of listening: 74% of our participants agreed that their partner could listen more. But just how important was listening for people’s relationship satisfaction?

Our results showed that among these people who agreed that their partner could listen more, average relationship satisfaction was 5.5/7. Which, you might think, is reasonably high.

Among people who disagreed that their partner could listen more, however, average relationship satisfaction was 0.8 points higher (6.3/7). This tells us that feeling like your partner is already a good listener is associated with a 14% increase in relationship satisfaction.

Figure 1: Differences in Relationship Satisfaction

Figure 1 shows that listening influenced relationship satisfaction more than anything else. It also includes a small selection of some of the other factors that mattered – some of which may be more surprising than others. Disagreeing that your partner needs to be more attentive, stop lying(!), work more, and ‘be more engaged’ were all associated with higher levels of relationship satisfaction; as was agreeing that your partner could think more about themselves.

These findings provide a series of new insights into the ingredients of a successful relationship that confirm historic research on the importance of communication, conflict management, levels of intimacy and stress, and emotional intelligence.

But in this blog we have barely scratched the surface. In a future post we’ll look at our results in more detail – including findings from a second study in which we asked people what they (rather than their partner) could do to improve their relationship.

Read recommended blogs

Automatic Enrolment: A New Application in Savings Automatic Enrolment: A New Application in Savings

One of the most cited applications of behavioural science in practice is the powerful effect of automatically enrolling people into schemes like pension plans. With a simple change in the sign-up process, these interventions show that we can move from a world in which the minority of people save for retirement to one in which...

Jan 8 2024 • 3 min read

Jan 8 2024 • 3 min read

New Year, Same Old Predictions New Year, Same Old Predictions

At the beginning of a New Year, financial journalists churn out articles about how the markets are likely to perform over the next 12 months. Their sources are often the forecasts published by industry analysts. According to one report published in December 2023, for example, analysts have on average predicted that the value of the...

Jan 3 2024 • 3 min read

Jan 3 2024 • 3 min read

How Might We Motivate Employees? Answers from Economics and Psychology How Might We Motivate Employees? Answers from Economics and Psychology

Imagine that you founded a company a few years ago and now find yourself grappling with a difficult question: how might I continue to motivate my employees? You turn to your trusty co-founders: Erin (who has an economics background) and Paolo (who studied psychology at university). And you soon learn that they have very different...

Jul 10 2023 • 3 min read

Jul 10 2023 • 3 min read

Interested in working with us?

Get in touch at info@cogco.co

Copied to clipboard