Monday, February 20, 2017

10 Things You Never Knew About Manipulation in Cults

By: Nick Hatfield, Ryen Beach, Madison Levine, Kelsie Kreuzburg, Maria Bravo
1. They have it down to a science.

Groupthink refers to the mode of thinking wherein the importance of concurrence becomes so dominant in a group of people that it overrides realistic alternative thinking or courses of action. It is the “deterioration in mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgements as a result of group pressures." Robert Jay Lifton is a psychologist who studied mind control and conceptualized the idea of thought reform. Thought reform is the structured alteration of a person’s method of thinking. Lifton proposed eight methods that are used to change people’s minds which can give us insight into how cults are able to “brainwash” their members.

2. They manipulate their members by cutting them off from outside information.  
According to Lifton, Milieu control is a way to manipulate people. Milieu Control is outside information is cutoff or filtered from a group. When looking at manipulation in cults, it commonly seen that the leader keeps the outside world  from “invading” his/hers community and distorts information to keep his/hers followers believing in a way he/she wants them to and doing things that don’t rationally make since. Jim Jones would hide information from his followers and started his community in South America away from civilization. By doing this, he could tell them anything he wanted and they would believe him because they had no other source of information to compare it to. This lack of knowledge led the followers to think the same because it is all they knew and it led to irrational decisions.

3. They create doctrines that stifle doubt.
Thought reform forces a group into absolute cohesiveness so that whatever decisions are made by the leader are blindly followed by the members of the cult. This blind faith in their leaders creates a form of cohesion that cannot be found outside of cults. Members need to keep the cult together for its common goal and in order to do this, the leader must create a belief that their doctrine is correct and what is right. Individuals feel that their experiences are in conflict over what the leader has told them they should be experiencing. They internalize the message that when your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings are in conflict with the message of the leader, you are in the wrong.

4. They use mystical manipulation.
Mystical manipulation or in other words, planned spontaneity. Mystical Manipulation is part of Lifton’s thought reform on manipulation in cults. It is extensive personal manipulation. It seeks to promote specific patterns of behavior and emotion. They make it appear as if it has come from the environment, when actually it is planned. It also legitimizes deception used to recruit new members, raise funds, and deception used on the outside world. Cult members are also manipulated to always remember they have a higher and better purpose than those that are not part of the cult.

5. Confession is good for the soul...and for maintaining cult loyalty.
Part of Robert Jay Lifton’s eight methods of thought reform are the ideas of  purity and confession. Individuals in the cult are taught to confess (what the group considers to be) past ‘sins’ so as to reinforce that action as wrong and not to be repeated, while additionally, being pushed towards an unattainable perfection. This enforces conformity through guilt and shame by using both self-criticism and group criticism. A real life example of these tactics can be found in the “Church of Scientology” which using a type of confessional termed “auditing” in which new members must unburden themselves by answering certain questions which lead to them confessing any perceived wrongdoing.

6. Mind control is actually used by leaders to control their followers.
Dr. Anson Shupe and colleagues have analyzed stereotypes of cults and brainwashed converts as social constructions in the context of ideological conflict and legitimizing a social movement. Cultists are viewed as being “possessed” and under control by another person or force that ultimately suppresses their individuality and can therefore use them for purposes they would not normally accept.

7. They use fear to keep their followers in line.  
Fear  is a strong factor in reasons why we do certain things, and when it comes to cults it is very effective. In groupthink, creativity and independent thinking is discouraged because it could disrupt the harmony and peace of the group. As the followers of the cult become afraid to say or do something that differs from the established ideals they begin to suppress their own ideals and follow along with the “norm” of the community. As this following continues, the followers begin to adopt the group's way of thinking (established by the leader) and discard their own way of thinking. Jim Jones for example made his followers scared to be different from his teachings to the point people would rat on each other if the other did something that didn’t follow the “norm” of the community. By doing this, he was able to get his followers to have think as one because they didn’t want to cause problems by thinking differently. So, in order to avoid being in a cult you should challenge ideals that don’t agree with you and question “The Man.”

8. They foster dependence on the group.

People who join cults suffer from the Group Dependence Disorder. It is very hard to get out of a cult, and one of the reasons is because of this dependence. It makes you feel that you need the group in your life. The people who are involved in cults are said to have Group Dependence Disorder, caused because of the high cohesiveness, the great insulation and the cult centering. The dependence that cult members feel on their group is similar to alcohol or drug dependence.

9. They use classic Skinnerian methods of manipulation: punishments and rewards.
Dr. Margaret T. Singer wrote in her book “Cults in Our Midst” (p. 64-69), 6 conditions for Thought Reform. One of them is a system of punishments, reward and experiences.
Here cults reward the good behaviors, such as accepting the group’s ideology, and punish the bad ones, like questioning the leader, doubting and criticizing the beliefs of the group. The punishments can vary from physical ones (like spanking – which is more common for kids), to physiological ones (like marginalization – which is more common for adults). They do this to foster the learning of the group’s ideology and the right behaviors, so that the people that join the cult don’t ask questions and follow the leader meekly.

10. There is hope if you're in a cult.
Know there are many stages, and it starts with being able to separate yourself from others. Since cult members tend to isolate its members, being back in contact with friends and family, and having a strong support network will help with an ex-cult member’s reality check. Remember that everything they brainwashed you with was a way to keep you in the cult, and those feelings will go away, but you must remain strong.

So You Got a Bid, Now What?: 10 Things Psychology Can Tell Us About Greek Life

By Amy Conner, Felicia Knott, Jade Lewis, Dacotah McGaffic, and Molly Zydel

1. You're more likely to go Greek if your friends do too.

It is your freshman year of college. Walking around campus, you notice all of the other students wearing Greek Letters and hanging out with others in their fraternity or sorority. They seem to be having the time of their lives. Then, all of your friends announce that they will be rushing in order to join Greek Life. After hearing this, you decide to join in the fun and rush as well. Your behavior is well-described by Social Impact Theory. This theory states that the impact of social influence increases when there are more people surrounding a person with similar beliefs and behaviors (Seltzer, Johnson, & Amira, 2013). Applying this to Greek Life on campus, this leads us to believe that college students become involved in fraternities and sororities when the people they are frequently around are also involved in Greek Life. They also tend to become more like the group as a whole, because those behaviors and beliefs are what they are surrounded by on a daily basis.

2. You'll do a lot to belong to your group. 

Even though hazing is strictly prohibited by many schools, there are still cases seen in the news about pledges needing medical attention due to a right-of-passage activity. For example, just a few years ago two fraternities at the University of Virginia sent several pledges to the hospital after one of these tasks. You may ask why these students participate in these potentially dangerous activities. Compliance in these activities can be traced back to these students’ need to belong. These students tend to fear that denying participation in these activities will leave them shunned and in many cases, they are not completely wrong.

3. People who "go Greek" are very responsive to social situations.

After being in Greek for a while, you notice that you seem to almost have different personalities around different people. You change to accommodate for different social demands across several different situations. Psychologists would say that you are high in your public self-consciousness. Those who are high in public self-consciousness were also high on self-monitoring, meaning that those who are very aware of how others perceive them also tend to be aware of social demands, and change in order to meet those demands. People who join Greek organizations are likely to be high on these personality traits.

4. You'll do what your Big does.

Have you ever been in a new place where you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing? You know, like at your first party and you have no clue how a keg works. So after having a minor panic attack, watched your Big get their beer and before you knew it, you had it down like a pro. Everyone’s been there. When we don't know how to behave we use other people as information to dictate, or influence, our behavior. Many studies in Greek Life show that after observing peers engage in drinking behaviors an individual may then model their own drinking behavior according to these observations because it is seen as a social norm.

5. You'll encounter pressures to conform with your group's behavior. 

The pressure to accept group norms has a significant impact on the high rates of alcohol consumption in fraternity members. With any group, there are pressures to accommodate social norms, but this pressure seems to be particularly high in these starts as superficial change in behavior to be a part of the in group, many of organizations leading to a form of public conformity. Although this values. these member are eventually influenced into truly believing in the groups

6. You will likely change your behavior to match others in the group.

A majority of individuals in Greek life tend to be high self-monitors due to the strong pressures to conform to the group. Because of how necessary it is to conform when involved in a Greek organization, if you are a high self-monitoring individual you will likely very willingly change your behavior so as to not appear unloyal or not passionate about your membership in the group. Self- monitoring is generally explained as the tendency to change one’s behavior in order to meet the demands of social situations. We all do it to some extent, whether it’s high or low self-monitoring. By definition, low self-monitors generally use inner beliefs and values when deciding how to behave, while high self-monitors usually monitor their surroundings and change their behavior to fit in.

7. Your identities merge as one. 

Ever wonder why all sorority girls or frat boys all seem the same? Social Identity theory describes situations in which one’s sense of self is based on group membership. In a study done by Biernat and others (1996), those parts of a fraternity or sorority conform to the behavior of that membership. They conform to the ideas, positive stereotypes, and attitudes of their group and make it their own. Over time, membership in the fraternity or sorority creates a self-schema, meaning that it becomes an important part of members' identities.

8. You'll do your best to present the best you.  

So now you’ve met a few people. They’re extra nice, know everyone, have good hair and are basically perfect. You, on the other hand, are not perfect and close to begging for bids so you decide to change your self-presentation. Self presentation, or impression management, are strategies used to shape and manage what others think of them which can be accurate or misleading. These strategies are used to express oneself in a manner that is seemed to be desirable. In doing so the individual controls information about themselves to allows others to have a specific impression on them.

9. You may develop a bias against those who didn’t go Greek.

If you join a Greek organization members of the organization will become your “in-group”, which is a social group in which a person psychologically identifies as a member. Membership in a group like Greek life typically becomes a very large factor in its members’ identities. After all, who doesn’t want to have a group of people in which they feel they truly belong? In contrast, an out-group consists of people who do not belong to the in-group. As one study explains, “individuals who belong to socially advantaged groups [such as Greek life] typically exhibit more implicit preference for their in-groups and bias against out-groups than do members of socially disadvantaged groups [people not involved in Greek life].” So, you will likely end up developing an implicit preference for those in your sorority or fraternity and develop a bias against those not involved in Greek life. Be aware of this change you may experience, and try not to exclude your pre-Greek life friends!

10. It makes you more collectivistic.     

Groups are probably one of the first things you associate with Greek life. Collectivism is when someone gives a group priority over themselves. Greek life gives any member more of a collectivist personality. Greek life gives you the opportunity to work close with others and form a close relationship with them. Since working closely with everyone for the amount of time they are part of the organization, they retain this collectivist attribute. This means that even after one leaves college for greater things, they still maintain this collectivist approaches.

8 Ways to Make a Good First Impression

By Isabella Barron, Asilinn Foutz, Jenna Gordon, and Ryan Hedgepeth
  1. Look the Part; It Turns Out People Do Judge a Book by Its Cover 
                                     Via 9GAG
If it’s your first time meeting someone, what kind of personality judgments might you make if they’re well-dressed in a nice suit or if they’re rocking sweatpants and a stained shirt? As it turns out, when you first encounter someone, the first information they have readily available about you in order to form an impression is based on your physical appearance. Like it or not, people often make judgments about your physical appearance to infer various personality traits (and you’re probably guilty of it, too). In fact, according to this study there are even some specific physical appearance cues that often relate to specific personality traits. For example, as you might even expect, some studies have shown that wearing glasses can lead to people perceiving you as more intelligent - something to keep in mind for your next job interview!
  1. Your First May Be Your Last

                                        Via Quickmeme
First impressions typically persist, even in the presence of contradictory information. Once your first impression is made, you can’t take it back or change it - for better or for worse. So it’s important to know that no matter how nice and wonderful of a person you are, one bad first encounter can have a lasting impact on the way people perceive you. Research shows that people tend to pay more attention to information they receive first, and often they will even discredit the validity of information they receive later. So, always put your best foot forward! Even though first impressions are not completely irrevocable, they do matter.

  1. Rehearse Your Behaviors             
                                                  Via Foresee

Practice makes perfect and nobody wants to embarrass themselves; so, what do we do before meeting a new date or in the weeks before starring in a new play? We rehearse in order to know what to do, and, more importantly, what not to do. These social scripts are learned as we gain life experience. According to research, someone who goes out to eat weekly much more likely to know what behaviors are acceptable, expected even, than someone who only goes out a few times a year.

  1. Stay on Your Best Behavior  

                                              Via Entertainment Weekly

President Lincoln once said, “I do not like that man. I must get to know him better.” Ever run into a stranger on a bad day and thought they must just be a horrible person? You’re not alone. As found in a Georgia State University experiment, we tend to think the worst when things don’t meet our expectations especially when someone doesn’t appear to be part of our “in-group”.

  1. Actions do Speak Louder Than Words 
                    Via: themasternegotiatorthe-master-negotiator.png
Body language is the language of all cultures. As hard as some people try to hide their true emotions in what they are saying, their nonverbal behaviors tend to reveal their true feelings. A simple head nod or shake of the head can confirm or deny a person’s feelings about something without them even noticing. To make a good first impression, be very aware of your actions. If you are trying to get someone to like you, have your body agree with what you are saying. If your body language is confirming what you are saying, and also what the other person is saying, they are more likely to have a positive first impression of you. Research shows that people notice your body language even if they are not doing so consciously.

  1. Your First Real Meeting May Not Be Your First Impression

                Via: fimediasocial.jpg
With all the new technology, people often know you before they even meet you. What you say on social media can significantly impact how people perceive you. People tend to not think twice about what they post online, not realizing that it is usually free to the public. You never know who is going to see what you post, and it can play a strong role in how people think of you before they even meet you. To make a good first impression, only say things on social media that you would be okay saying in person. A good trick for this, is to think about how you would feel if your grandmother saw your social media. If you would feel uncomfortable, it is probably wise to not post it. Research has shown that people tend to create strong first impressions based off of social media accounts, especially in more recent times, now that people are first becoming acquainted online.

  1. Always Use Your Time Wisely

When it comes to making a good first impression you are not always aware of how long this interaction will last. Research has shown that when we meet someone within the first 5 seconds we have already constructed some type of personal impression of that person. This unconscious act is known as thin slicing. Surprisingly someone’s impression of you within the first 5 seconds is more accurate than you would think, but the study also shows that the thin slicing accuracy of a person’s judgement of you increases during a 5 minute encounter. So when it comes to making a good first impression try to put yourself in a situation that allows you the most time possible to prove yourself, and always make every second count!     

  8. Your Face Says it All
Studies have shown that the first impressions of people’s personalities are often formed by the visual appearance of their face. It is believed that when you meet/see a person for the first time the facial expression that you are wearing during the encounter will automatically have influence on what someone thinks about your personality. For example: if you’re having a bad day and carry an expression on your face that reflects that, someone who doesn't know you will possibly forever judge you as “the person with the bad attitude.” It is always important when making a good first impression to be aware of your facial signals even if it doesn’t exactly reflect how you’re feeling inside at that very moment.    

10 Differences in Psychology between Eastern and Western Cultures You Won’t Believe!

Jacob Johnson, Claire Kirchoff, Jaela Norman, Tori Smith, Matt Tracey

In modern times, we often seek to reduce the perceived differences between cultures. While this is a noble goal, there are actually several aspects of social psychology that are completely different, oftentimes opposites, in Eastern cultures. In this article, we will provide ten differences between individualistic cultures, oftentimes Western cultures like the U.S. and U.K. that emphasize uniqueness and personal achievement, and collectivistic cultures, usually Eastern cultures like Japan and China that emphasize group responsibility and growth. Many of these differences are related to in-groups, the groups to which we identify as a member, versus out-groups, those which we call the “other” and with whom we do not identify. Other differences are on a much more individualized scale, such as those between personalities. Although we are in many ways akin to our Eastern neighbors, there’s also a few quirky ways in which we are very different.

1. In Western cultures, it’s all about "me"… but in Eastern cultures it’s all about "us"!

Have you ever felt like your feelings were special, that no one else could possibly feel like you felt in that moment? Truth is, most humans (with the exception of psychopaths) feel the same basic emotions. However, Western cultures and Eastern cultures differ in how the emotions are attributed to certain circumstances. This study found that Western, individualistic cultures tend to view and report emotions as more focused on self-enhancement and creating an individual self that is not part of a larger group. Members of individualistic cultures experience the same emotions as everyone else, they might just think that their particular emotion at that particular time is somehow unique and doesn’t apply to anyone else but them. In contrast, those belonging to Eastern, collectivistic cultures tend to use emotions to show interconnectedness within the group. Each member of the group understands the experience of one individual, and respect the emotions of others. Collectivistic cultures view emotions as all-encompassing items of life, which are experienced by all in the group and give each member the ability to feel what others feel.

2. Westerners and Easterners draw lines differently--literally.

Seriously, we do. In this study, researchers found that Japanese students and American students differed in how they drew lines in relation to a square (a “frame”). In the study, the two groups of students (a group from Japan and a group from America) were shown an example frame with a line drawn from the top and extending different lengths into the frame, and then were given a blank frame of the same or different size than the example. For the participants’ task, they were asked to either draw a line of the same length as the first line, no matter the size of the second frame (the absolute task) or to draw a line that was of the same proportion to the new frame as the example, like 2/3 of the frame or 1/2 the frame (the relative task). As it turned out, the Japanese students were significantly better at performing the relative task. Specifically, they were better than the American students at taking the context into account when drawing the line. It’s particularly fascinating, though, that American students living in Japan for as little as 3 months performed more like their Japanese peers than like the American students, and vice versa for Japanese students living in America. Isn’t that wild? Humans adapt to culture pretty quickly, and this study shows that even different cognitive patterns of perception can be adopted when we move from one culture to another. This affects how we see groups, ourselves, even art. Humans are weird.

3. Westerners belong to more groups, but care less about them.

It may at first seem somewhat strange that the average member of an individualistic society actually has a higher number of in-groups than one of a collectivistic society. However, it makes sense if you consider that, in a collectivistic society, individuals identify with more people and form larger groups with more diversity and therefore fewer groups overall. According to this study by Harry Triandis, while members of an individualistic society will likely identify with more in-groups, they also tend to have lower concern for the in-group as well be more distant from these groups. Easterners, on the other hand, tend to identify strongly with their in-groups, show higher concern for the welfare of their groups, and be more tightly connected with the group.

4. Collectivistic people like their neighbors more… but like outsiders less.

Speaking of in- and out-group dynamics, people who identify more strongly with allocentrism - the attitudes associated with collectivistic societies - tend to have more strong feelings both in and out. In a study in Singapore, researchers Lynn Lee and Colleen Ward found that allocentric people had much stronger positive attitudes toward fellow in-group members. These Chinese and Malaysian participants agreed more often and with greater magnitude on statements like “Singapore should be proud of its Chinese/Malay population”. However, the same allocentrics were also more likely to disagree strongly with efforts to foster the growth of other ethnic groups of Singapore. These findings indicate that allocentrics are more likely to have stronger ethnocentrism.

5. Westerners want justice… Easterners want peace!

A study by Ohbuchi, Fukushima, and Tedeschi identified differences in the way that individualistic societies differed from collectivistic societies in terms of conflict resolution. They researched college-age individuals in both the United States and Japan and found that there was quite a difference in how each group dealt with a conflict. In the individualistic society (United States), individuals were more likely to demonstrate assertive tactics and were interested in attaining justice. Meanwhile, in the collectivist society (Japan), individuals were more likely to demonstrate avoidance tactics and they wanted to ensure they maintained good relations with an individual rather than doing whatever it takes for justice.

6. Westerners are social butterflies. Easterners, not so much.

Research conducted by Sinha found that those within individualistic cultures had greater skills in entering and leaving new social groups. Meanwhile, people in collectivist cultures tend to have fewer skills in making new friends. This is most likely due to the way that both cultures view friends, as individualistic cultures have many more friends than collectivistic cultures. Collectivistic cultures tend to value friendships much more than individualistic cultures; therefore, they probably take longer to become attached and give them their trust.

7. Westerners seem to have higher self-esteem... On the surface.

Did you know that those living in a more individualistic culture tend to view themselves as independent, distinct, and autonomous, while those living in more collectivistic cultures view themselves as a part of an interdependent social network? Based on findings from 1999 surveys, the self-esteem of those from an individualistic society tend to range from medium to high. Most people living in places such as the United States, Germany, Ireland, South Africa, and Australia strive to be different and seen as their own person. In comparison to the self-esteem of someone from an individualistic culture, the self-esteem of collectivist individuals can sometimes be quite self-critical, and they may speak about themselves in self-deprecating terms. However, this effect only occurs when directly asking the collectivistic individuals to describe themselves. If instead researchers use a little sneakiness and assess implicit associations - those that occur below a conscious level - collectivistic individuals still associate with more positive attributes. So, they don't truly think they are any worse than anyone in the Western world would, but they believe they must portray themselves as though they are. Perhaps this, too, is due to an emphasis on the importance of the group as opposed to the individual.

8. Easterners have a flat approach to their art.

It has been found that artwork varies from Eastern to Western cultures. In a study assessing cultural differences in artistic expression, it was found that the horizon lines in paintings and drawings are much higher in Eastern art than horizon lines in Western art. Why would that matter? Well, it seems that it is important for the Eastern Asian artist to include all the necessary contextualized information in the field. Additionally, Asian art appears to be more flat than Western art, which tends to have more physical depth and operate in three-dimensional space. The differences here come from the relative lack of Western influence on art in Eastern cultures. There is a long tradition of two-dimensional art in East Asian countries that has influenced artists to interpret and elaborate the artistic conventions of their own cultures. Western cultures, on the other hand, have more experience with three-dimensional art (think of the works of the Renaissance and Greek and Roman statues), and thus Western artists continue that tradition. Moreover, the context of the art has more weight in collectivistic cultures, while the subject tends to be the focus of art in individualistic cultures.

9. Goals are achieved in vastly different ways!

Believe it or not, there is actually a distinct difference between even the personalities of Eastern and Western cultures. According to Triandis' research, people who belong to a Western, individualist culture are typically independent from their own in-groups and tend to be a a lot more self-directed. They strive to achieve their own goals before looking into goals of their group, and they usually act with their own individual attitudes instead of behaving solely related to their group's social norms. In other words, their personality is a pretty individual thing… How shocking. The Eastern, collectivist cultures are the opposite of that, as you might imagine. They’re interdependent within their groups and focus more on the goals of that given group rather than any kind of personal goals. Their behavior is much more alike, following the group’s social norms, and there is a bigger emphasis on community. So, to boil this one down as well, this culture likes to do things and act certain ways together… collectively.

10. Kids are taught starkly different things.

We've already learned that there is a stark difference in personality traits, so would it be safe to say that these two groups raise their children just a bit differently as well? Thanks to Harry Triandis, we know the answer. In the collectivist cultures, kids learn early on to be obedient and have a pretty big emphasis on conformity, which makes sense considering the whole culture tends to take a “We’re all in this together” stance. There's also a lot of stress on security and reliability, pretty important things for grooming an interdependent child. On the flip side, individualist cultures raise their kids to be independent and self reliant, tying in pretty well with the priority that most people give to their personal goals. They also want their kids to be explorative and creative - which, not surprisingly, is pretty individualistic.

10 Ways to Know if Your Relationship Will Last

By Kristen Wicander, Joshua Jones, Rachel Harmon, Emily Townley, and Keara Moore

If you're in a relationship or even if you're just curious, take a look at some of these points to figure out if your relationship has what it takes to last. Let's get started!

1. You find your partner attractive!

The saying goes, “don’t judge a book by it's cover”, but in relationships the “cover” plays a more important role than you may think. Researchers have found that physical attractiveness is one of the most important characteristics in both sparking romantic interest and continuing a happy, successful relationship. The "what-is-beautiful-is-good" stereotype also claims that people often believe that physical attractiveness is associated with desirable personality traits. While in modern society the role of physical attraction in relationships can often be underplayed, it is important the feelings are positive and reciprocal. So you better make sure that your partner is as attracted to you as you are to him/her!

2. You constantly talk to one another!
Communication is key! It is important to understand the characteristics of your partner so that you may know what is necessary to keep one another satisfied. There is a study that shows evidence of a necessity to have similar levels of emotional intelligence (EI). This is crucial because it helps you better understand your partner. Do your best to frequently and openly communicate with you partner, especially about important topics or concerns. Nobody is a mind reader so make sure that your partner verbally hears what is on your mind!

3. You invest time in one another!
Investment in a relationship is measured by the amount of time and effort you put into your relationship. Because we cannot get back the time and effort we invest after we invest it, consistently investing in your relationship can raise your level of commitment. And according to Rusbult's investment model, the higher one’s commitment to a relationship is, the longer that relationship is expected to last (Rusbult 1980).

4. You confide in your partner!
Let me put this plain and simple: if you cannot trust your partner, your relationship is as good as dead. There is a hypothesis known as the “Dyadic Trust Scale” in which better relationships involve more mutual beliefs of benevolence and honesty. This continues into the need for self-disclosure: the ability to confide in your partner not only lifts a weight off of your shoulders, but also allows for the development of a greater level of closeness when discussing sensitive topics. When it comes to maintaining relationships, honesty way very well be the best policy.

5. You believe you're sexually compatible!
While sex is often viewed as a taboo subject to discuss, it is an important aspect of many intimate relationships and plays a significant role in relationship success. Many people believe that sexual compatibility means that each partners' specific sexual preferences must be in perfect alignment. However, one study showed that perceived sexual compatibility is actually more important. As long as each partner believes that the other's matches their own sexual desires and beliefs, there is greater likelihood of relationship satisfaction. Other studies show that specifically in heterosexual relationships, frequent penile-vaginal intercourse and consistent vaginal orgasm can lead to higher relationship intimacy. Don’t be afraid to talk to your partner about sex because chances are you will only get better and be more satisfied!

6. You feel you have equal roles in the relationship!
When you imagine what an average relationship looks like, what do you picture? Fifty years ago, you would likely imagine a scene from a 1950s sitcom in which the husband comes home to his doting housewife after a long day at work. Nowadays, however, this traditional relationship, formed by set gender roles, is no longer as prevalent. One study showed that young adults viewed egalitarian relationships, in which the gender roles are interchangeable, as more satisfying. This type of relationship is prefered over one marked by an unequal share of responsibilities. And these beliefs aren’t unfounded! Studies support that married couples experience the greatest relationship satisfaction when both partners are income earners and equally divide the household responsibilities. Clearly, when both people in the relationship think of each other as equals, then the relationship is more likely to last!

7. You value the same things!

Jantoo Cartoons

As relationships progress through different phases (including the stimulus phase, the value phase, and the role phase), one must focus on forming a deeper attachment based on mutual values and beliefs. The key to developing a secure attachment within a relationship is support and trust. If you have dissimilar values, it can lead partners to feel unsupported, uncomfortable, and dissatisfied within a relationship. So before getting too involved with a partner, be sure that you are on the same page about core values and difficult issues.

8. There's equity in your relationship!

Equity is the balance of contributions and benefits among partners. Unlike just sharing similar chores around the house, equity in a relationship involves the "costs" of a relationship being equal to that of the "rewards" of that same relationship. If the costs and rewards of a relationship were to be uneven, a non-equitable relationship would be the result. While it may be possible to maintain a relationship with no equity, according to equity theory, the complications in a relationship that a lack of equity causes would be very difficult to overcome. In order to improve the quality of your relationship, it is crucial to maintain balance.

9. Conflict is unavoidable in relationship, so you balance the bad with the good!
Conflict, conflicto, conflit, konflikt, Конфликт... From English to Russian, conflict exists everywhere, so of course it's going to turn up in your relationship at some point. A wide variety of aspects can lead to conflict between partners: finances, roles and responsibilities, communication issues, sex, and thoughts about the future (among others). One study discusses how the real issue is not the conflict itself, but rather how partners respond to it. Stable couples seek to maintain a balance between the positive and negative. This means that when a negative conflict arises, partners more often seek out a positive reward in order to regain balance. Couples that stay together also give and receive forgiveness during conflict. Forgiveness has a positive effect on relationships because it helps to reaffirm intimacy, communication, and commitment. So remember: say that you’re sorry, and actually mean it!

10. You're intimate on many different levels!

"Did you get intimate last night?" asks your friend, as if intimacy is a curse word. However, when we think about intimacy in a relationship, it usually involves the emotional aspect between partners. Intimacy should involve feelings of liking and being emotionally close with a partner. One study tells us that there should be a deeper level of comfort in which each partner can openly discuss a wide variety of topics, be supportive and understanding, and validate one another. Intimacy is developed on a variety of levels: intellectual, affective, interpersonal, and physical. So don't think that intimacy is just between romantic partners! According to Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love, intimacy can be linked to passion, as in romantic relationships, but also to decision/committment, as in friendships or familial relationships.