Using Bayesian Nonparametric Hidden Semi-Markov Models to Disentangle Affect Processes during Marital Interaction
Sequential affect dynamics generated during the interaction of intimate dyads, such as married couples, are associated with a cascade of effects—some good and some bad—on each partner, close family members, and other social contacts. Although the effects are well documented, the probabilistic structures associated with micro-social processes connected to the varied outcomes remain enigmatic. Using extant data we developed a method of classifying and subsequently generating couple dynamics using a Hierarchical Dirichlet Process Hidden semi-Markov Model (HDP-HSMM). Our findings indicate that several key aspects of existing models of marital interaction are inadequate: affect state emissions and their durations, along with the expected variability differences between distressed and nondistressed couples are present but highly nuanced; and most surprisingly, heterogeneity among highly satisfied couples necessitate that they be divided into subgroups. We review how this unsupervised learning technique generates plausible dyadic sequences that are sensitive to relationship quality and provide a natural mechanism for computational models of behavioral and affective micro-social processes.