For couples who co-operate well, men tend to mimic their partner's mood while women try to regulate their partner's emotions, research from the University of Arizona shows.
The study, published last week in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, suggests a gender-link in the co-operation between couples.
The scientists shot video of 44 heterosexual couples conversing about eating habits, exercise and other aspects of daily life.
Then subjects viewed the video while rating how positive or negative they were feeling at the time of the conversation. Researchers also looked for signs of co-operation, such as open communication, sympathy, active listening and compromise.
Among those couples who co-operated well, the partners tended to fall into gender-distinct roles, with men following an emotional lead and women seeking to moderate the man's emotions.
In an example cited in a podcast on the study hosted by the journal, a wife asks her husband what he thinks of her outfit. He says he likes it, but chances are, her husband's enthusiasm won't be enough to fully convince her and she will want to try on a few other options.
Relationship researcher and lead study author Ashley Randall suggested that men might be subconsciously syncing their emotions with their partner's during co-operation in order to avoid a drawn-out discussion.