How psychology may play a role in property division

If there is anything that books like “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” and movies like “He’s Just Not Into You,” have taught us it’s that even though men and women are speaking the same language, we’re really not. That’s because men and women have very different communication styles. This can create problems though, especially when it comes time for negotiations during the divorce process, because one spouse may have difficulty understanding what the other is saying.

Take for example discussions about alimony or how property will be divided. Because men are oftentimes more focused on task-oriented goals than women, they may be more assertive during property division discussions. They may only focus on how the law directs division and may be less likely to accept something that doesn’t feel like a fair deal.

Women on the other hand are more focused on interpersonal- and relationship-oriented goals. Women are more likely to make decisions based on how they feel it will affect their relationship with their soon-to-be-former spouse. It’s because of this desire to remain as harmonious as possible that women are more likely to accept smaller divorce settlements or acquiesce to terms that may not have her best interest in mind.

This isn’t the only psychological element at play, however. Researchers with the University of Pennsylvania have noted that some individuals may value property differently if they have visualized themselves with it. Also, if an asset is more concrete, such as a car or house, a person may feel more loss than if the asset was less concrete, such as access to a pension or stocks.

Although knowing that psychological elements and differing communication styles are at play can be beneficial to couples who have just started the divorce process, this may not benefit everyone. Couples may not be able to use this information to make a work around for negotiation problems. In cases like this, getting legal representation is still a good call as they typically have experience handling and resolving difficult issues.