A dynamic systems model of dyadic interaction

Diane H. Felmlee, David F. Greenberg

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We develop a differential equation model of dyadic interaction that embodies the basic assumption that members of intimate couples form an interactive system in which the behavior of each member of a couple is influenced by the other's behavior and by goals that each person has for herself or himself. The dynamic solutions of this system suggest that when each person in the dyad is "cooperative", then an equilibrium can be approached. The equilibrium represents a compromise position between the individuals' own ideals and those of the partner. On the other hand, if one individual, or both, is uncooperative, then this system often, but not always, becomes unstable. One paradoxical deduction from the model is that, through mutual cooperation, couples can experience periods of stability, but such stable situations are not necessarily satisfying.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)155-180
    Number of pages26
    JournalJournal of Mathematical Sociology
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 1999


    • Couples
    • Differential equation model
    • Dynamic model
    • Relationship stability
    • Systems theory

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Algebra and Number Theory
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • Sociology and Political Science


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