Man or woman, we all want to be understood

While men prefer to know when their partner is happy, women want their lover to understand when they are upset. This is the suggestion of new research published in the Journal of Family Psychology, which found people are happier when their partners try to be more empathetic to their feelings.

Shiri Cohen of Harvard Medical School noted: "It could be that for women, seeing that their male partner is upset reflects some degree of the man's investment and emotional engagement in the relationship, even during difficult times."

Ms Cohen explained this matches up to the dissatisfaction often felt by females when their other half is either disengaged when arguing or emotionally withdrawn.

According to the findings, satisfaction in a relationship is directly linked to a man's capacity to correctly read the positive emotions of his female partner and suggests couples should be encouraged to better appreciate and communicate attempts to show empathy.

However, Dr Gary Wood, Chartered Psychologist, is sceptical. He commented: "This research offers a heteronormative view that skews our understanding of relationships and families.

"It tells us very little of communications in families where both partners are of the same gender, or indeed if partners do not confirm to the binary, Procrustean model of gender.

"For as long as we begin with hypotheses or even an unconscious bias that men and women are more different than alike, we will continue to get results that confirm it. For a better understanding of human psychology we need to consider humanness over prescriptive norms. In short, we all want to be understood."