Cooperation is essential in any successful romantic relationship, but how men and women experience cooperation emotionally may be quite different, according to new research conducted at the University of Arizona.

Ashley Randall, a post-doctoral research associate in the UA's John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, and the UA's department of psychiatry, recently published her study titled “Cooperating with your romantic partner: Associations with interpersonal emotion coordination,” in the SAGE Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

“It’s quite striking; men show an in-phase pattern,” Randall said. “But for women we find more of an anti-phase pattern, which is really an oscillating pattern … so when her partner was less positive she tended to be more positive.”

Randall said cooperation is an essential component of interpersonal relations, and understanding the differences in how men and women process the experience can be useful for couples. “We’re really at the fore-front of understanding how these behavioral patterns even develop,” Randall said.