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But John Gottman has proven that we dont have to do that at all.Since the 1980s, Gottman has brought more than three thousand married couplesjust like Bill and Sueinto that small room in his love lab near the University of Washington campus.He is short and very charming, and when he talks about something that excites himwhich is nearly all the timehis eyes light up and open even wider.
If he watches a couple for fifteen minutes, his success rate is around 90 percent.
Recently, a professor who works with Gottman named Sybil Carrère, who was playing around with some of the videotapes, trying to design a new study, discovered that if they looked at only three minutes of a couple talking, they could still predict with fairly impressive accuracy who was going to get divorced and who was going to make it.
The truth of a marriage can be understood in a much shorter time than anyone ever imagined.
John Gottman is a middle-aged man with owl-like eyes, silvery hair, and a neatly trimmed beard.
The notation 7, 7, 14, 10, 11, 11, for instance, means that in one six-second stretch, one member of the couple was briefly angry, then neutral, had a moment of defensiveness, and then began whining.
Then the data from the electrodes and sensors is factored in, so that the coders know, for example, when the husbands or the wifes heart was pounding or when his or her temperature was rising or when either of them was jiggling in his or her seat, and all of that information is fed into a complex equation.