On the day of an argument or an avoided argument, people who felt their meeting was resolved reported about half the responsiveness of those whose meetings were unresolved, the results reported.
“Everyone experiences stress in their daily life. You won’t prevent stressful things from happening. But the extent to which you can tie them, end them, and resolve them is definitely going to pay dividends in terms of your well-being, ”said Oregon State University researcher Robert Stawski.
For the study, published in The Journals of Gerontology, the team used data from an in-depth survey of more than 2,000 people polled about their feelings and experiences for eight consecutive days.
The researchers looked at reports on both arguments and avoided arguments, defined as cases where the person could have argued about something but chose to let it slip away so as not to disagree.
They then measured how the incident affected the person’s reported change in negative and positive emotions, both on the day of the encounter and the day after it happened.
The measure of how an experience affects a person emotionally, an increase in negative emotions or a decrease in positive emotions, on the day it occurs is known as “responsiveness”, while the “residue” is the prolonged emotional toll the day after the experience.
Results showed that on the day of an argument or argument avoided, people who felt their encounter was resolved reported about half the responsiveness of those whose encounters were unresolved.
The day after an argument or argument avoided, the results were even more striking – people who felt the problem was resolved showed no prolonged elevation in their negative effect the next day.