John Mordecai Gottman (born April 26, 1942) is a Professor emeritus in psychology known for his work on marital stability and relationship analysis through scientific direct observations many of which were published in peer-reviewed literature. The lessons derived from this work represent a partial basis for the relationship counseling movement which aim to improve relationship functioning and the avoidance of those behaviors shown by Gottman and other researchers to harm human relationships. Gottman is a Professor Emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington. With his wife Julie Schwartz, Gottman heads a non-profit research institute (The Relationship Research Institute) and a for-profit therapist training entity (The Gottman Institute).
Gottman was recognized in 2007 as one of the ten most influential therapists of the past quarter century. "Gottman's research showed that it wasn't only how couples fought that mattered, but how they made up. Marriages became stable over time if couples learned to reconcile successfully after a fight."
Predictions of divorce 
Gottman developed multiple models, scales and formulas to predict marital stability and divorce in couples, and has completed seven studies in this field. The predictive studies regarding newlywed couples are most well-known.
Gottman found that the four negative behaviors that most predict divorce are criticism of partners’ personality, contempt (from a position of superiority), defensiveness, and stonewalling, or emotional withdrawal from interaction. On the other hand, stable couples handle conflicts in gentle, positive ways, and are supportive of each other.
He developed the Gottman Method Couple’s Therapy based on his research findings. The therapy aimed to increase respect, affection, and closeness, break through and resolve conflict, generate greater understandings, and to keep conflict discussions calm. The Gottman Method sought to help couples build happy and stable marriages.
Gottman’s predictions are based on perceived marital bond. In his 2000 study, Gottman conducted oral interviews with 95 newlywed couples. Couples were asked about their relationship, mutual history, and philosophy towards marriage. The interview measured the couple's perceptions of their history and marriage by focusing on the positive or negative qualities of the relationship expressed in the telling of the story. Rather than scoring the content of their answers, interviewers used the Oral History Interview coding system, developed by Buehlman and Gottman in 1996, to measure spouses' perceptions about the marriage and about each other. Therefore, the couples’ perception was used to predict marital stability or divorce. The more positive their perceptions and attitudes were about their marriage and each other, the more stable the marriage.
The original study was conducted by Gottman and Buehlman in 1992, in which they interviewed couples with children, and an a posteriori modeling yielded a discriminant function which discriminate who divorces with 94% accuracy. However, he believed that since early married life is a period of change and adjustment, and perceptions are being formed, Gottman sought to predict marital stability and divorce through couples’ perceptions during the first year of marriage.
In a 1998 study, Gottman developed a model to predict which newlywed couples will remain married and which will divorce four to six years later. He claims that his model has 90% accuracy. He also claims 81% percent accuracy for another model about which marriages survived after seven to nine years.
Gottman’s follow-up study with newlywed couples, published in 2000, used the Oral History Interview to predict marital stability and divorce. Gottman found 87.4% accuracy in predicting marriage or divorce within the couples’ first 5 years of marriage. He used couples’ perceptions about their marriage and each other to predict marital stability or divorce.
Independent research 
A paper by Richard E. Heyman, "The hazard of predicting divorce without Cross validation" analyzes 15 divorce prediction models and questions their validity.
- When analyzing a given dataset, it is possible to overfit the model to the data. Which will work extremely nice for this dataset, but will not work when tested on fresh data.
- Ninety percent prediction may actually mean much less when considering false positives and the low base rates of divorce.
"Overfitting can cause extreme overinflation of predictive powers, especially when oversampled extreme groups and small samples are used, as was the case with Gottman et al. (1998; n = 60 couples for the prediction analyses) and nearly all of the other divorce prediction studies ... published studies that find extraordinary initial predictive results may aid us in improving models of risk by identifying important risk factors. Nonetheless, dissemination of 'predictive power' results in the popular media must await supportive data on sensitivity, specificity, and predictive value when the predictive equation is applied to independent samples. By recognizing both the value and limitations of predictive studies, professionals and the public alike will be served best."
The author shows his points by creating a divorce prediction model with a data set, and showing its low validity when the above considerations are tested.
Journalist Laurie Abraham also disputed the prediction power of Gottman's method. Abraham writes, "What Gottman did wasn't really a prediction of the future but a formula built after the couples' outcomes were already known. This isn't to say that developing such formulas isn't a valuable—indeed, a critical—first step in being able to make a prediction. The next step, however—one absolutely required by the scientific method—is to apply your equation to a fresh sample to see whether it actually works. That is especially necessary with small data slices (such as 57 couples), because patterns that appear important are more likely to be mere flukes. But Gottman never did that." The Gottman Relationship Institute claims that 6 of 7 of Gottman's studies have been properly predictive, by the standard that the predictors, but not their specific relationship to the outcome, were selected in advance. However, Gottman's 2002 paper makes no claims to accuracy in terms of binary classification, and is instead a regression analysis of a two factor model where skin conductance levels and oral history narratives encodings are the only two statistically significant variables. Facial expressions using Ekman's encoding scheme were not statistically significant.
Building Strong Families Program 
Independent research on the impact of Gottman's marriage strengthening programs for the general public has further questioned Gottman couple education programs.
The largest independent evaluation of a marriage education curriculum developed by Gottman, known as "Loving Couples, Loving Children," was conducted by Mathematica Policy Research at nine sites in five states through the federally-funded, multi-year Building Strong Families Program study contracted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. The study group included low-income, unwed couples.
An impact report released by the Office of Planning Research and Evaluation showed that the intervention had no positive impact and, in one case, "had negative effects on couples’ relationships."
The findings were reported In 2010 by Mathematica based on a 15-month follow-up of program and control group participants in the Building Strong Families Program, most of whom participated in Gottman's "Loving Couples, Loving Children" curriculum:
- The program had no effect on whether couples were still together 15 months after they had applied for the program, when data from the eight BSF programs are combined. At this point, 76 percent of BSF couples were still romantically involved, compared with 77 percent of control group couples. Similarly, BSF and control group couples were equally likely to be married to each other at that time (17 and 18 percent respectively) and to be living together, whether married or unmarried (62 percent for both research groups)."
- Fifteen months after they applied for the program, BSF and control group couples reported being equally happy in their romantic relationships, with average ratings of 8.4 and 8.3 respectively on a 0-to-10 relationship happiness scale. Similarly, BSF and control group couples gave very similar ratings of supportiveness and affection in their relationships, with average support and affection scale values of 3.5 on a 1-to-4 scale for couples in both research groups. In addition, BSF had no overall effect on how faithful couples were to each other.
- When results are averaged across all eight programs, BSF did not improve couples’ ability to manage their conflict. Couples in both research groups reported similar levels of use of constructive conflict behaviors, such as keeping a sense of humor and listening to the other partner’s perspective during disagreements. Similarly, there was no difference between the research groups in the avoidance of destructive conflict behaviors, such as withdrawing when there is a disagreement or allowing small disagreements to escalate. In addition, when results are averaged across all programs, BSF had no effect on how likely couples were to experience intimate partner violence. Similarly, when results are averaged across all programs, BSF did not improve co-parenting or increase father involvement. BSF and control group couples reported that their co-parenting relationships were of equally high quality. In addition, at the 15-month follow-up, couples in both research groups were equally likely to report that fathers were living with their children, spending substantial time with them, and providing them with substantial financial support.
- The Baltimore BSF program [Gottman's "Loving Couples, Loving Children" curriculum] had negative effects on couples’ relationships. BSF couples were less likely than control group couples to remain romantically involved, 59 percent versus 70 percent. Baltimore BSF couples reported being less supportive and affectionate toward each other than control group couples did. In addition, women in the Baltimore BSF program were more likely than women in the control group to report having been severely physically assaulted by a romantic partner in the past year, 15 percent compared with 9 percent. Baltimore BSF couples also rated the quality of their co-parenting relationship lower than control group couples did and reported that BSF fathers spent less time with their children and were less likely to provide them financial support than control group fathers were.
Supporting Healthy Marriage Project 
An ongoing study by Manpower Development Research Corporation (MDRC), known as the Supporting Healthy Marriage Project (SHM), is evaluating Gottman's "Loving Couples, Loving Children" program among low-income, married couples. The multi-year, random assignment study is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. In an early impact study on the effectiveness of "skills-based relationship education programs designed to help low-income married couples strengthen their relationships and, in turn, to support more stable and more nurturing home environments and more positive outcomes for parents and their children," MDRC reported:
- The SHM program produced a consistent pattern of small positive effects on multiple aspects of couples’ relationships. Relative to the control group, the program group showed higher levels of marital happiness, lower levels of marital distress, greater warmth and support, more positive communication, and fewer negative behaviors and emotions in their interactions with their spouses. The consistency of results across outcomes and data sources (surveys and independent observations of couple interactions) is noteworthy.
- Compared with individuals in the control group, program group members reported experiencing slightly less psychological and physical abuse from their spouses. Men and women in the program group reported less psychological abuse in their relationships, and men in the program group reported that their spouses physically assaulted them less often, compared with their control group counterparts.
- Men and women in the program group reported slightly lower levels of adult psychological distress (such as feelings of sadness or anxiety) than their control group counterparts.
- The program did not significantly affect whether couples stayed married at the 12-month follow-up point.
The initial impact report is based on 12-month follow-up with 4,989 program participants and control groups at sites in Florida (Orlando), Kansas (Wichita), Pennsylvania (Reading and Bethlehem), Texas (El Paso and San Antonio), New York (Bronx), Oklahoma (Oklahoma City), and Washington (Shoreline and Seattle).
Matthews, Wickrama and Conger 
A study published by Matthews, Wickrama and Conger in 1996 based on couples’ perceptions showed that spousal hostility, net of warmth, predicted with 80% accuracy which couples would divorce or not divorce within a year.
Relations and effects 
In multiple analyses Gottman has shown a plethora of relations and effects in marriage and divorce, some in peer-review publications, while many others in Gottman own books. Among those are:
- The physical elements in marital conflict (i.e. physical effects are central to the inability to think etc. in conflict situations) for which he advises 20 minutes cooling period or physical relaxation.
- The effects of "bids for connection". that is the smallest bids people do to connect and how the other reacts. for example happy couples do have many more "bids for conneciton when together, and much more "turn towards" response, and much much less "turn away" - the most negative reaction. A book is dedicated to this element "The relationship Cure"
- The concept of "trust" which Gottman defines as the tendency to cooperate to form "win-win" situation, and the ability to get unstuck from loss-loss state loop (like mutual defecting in Prisoner's dilemma). A central feature of unhappy relationships, notes Gottman, is that couples are stuck in loss-loss loops. 
- The neutral affect provides a way out of negative interactions as most interactions do not transition directly from negative to positive. The degree of neutral affect is often overlooked as a predictor of relationship success due to the very fact that the neutral affect is simply neutral. 
- The dynamic to cause divorce in the short term is different from that causing divorce later. Early divorce is characterized by the "Four Horsemen" of bad fighting, whereas later divorce is characterized by lower positive affect in earlier stages of the relationship.
- Anger is not at all bad for relationships. Happy couples are as frequently angry as unhappy couples. It seems that how people react to anger and how destructive they get is the crucial factor rather than the frequency of anger or fights. Gottman even says that anger is functional in marriage.
- 69% of happy couples still have *the very same* unresolved conflicts after ten year, yet remain happy because they do not get gridlocked in the conflict and manage to get around it.
Contempt and marriage 
Gottman's theory states that there are four major emotional reactions that are destructive and thus are the 4 predictors to a divorce: criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt. Among these four, Gottman considers contempt the most important of them all.
Seven Principles 
In his book, The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work, Gottman discusses behaviors that he has observed in marriages that are successful and those that are detrimental to marriage based on his research conducted at his lab in Seattle, Washington. He has outlined seven principles that will reinforce the positive aspects of a relationship and help marriages endure during the rough moments.
- Enhance Your Love Maps. Gottman defines a love map as the place in your brain where you store information pertaining to your partner. This is crucial in really knowing your partner, their dreams, hopes, interests, and maintaining their interest throughout the relationship.
- Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration. This means laying down a positive view about your spouse, respecting and appreciating their differences.
- Turn Toward Each Other Instead of Away. Acknowledging your partner's small moments in life and orienting yourself towards them will maintain that necessary connection that is vital for the relationship.
- Let Your Partner Influence You. It is important to maintain your own identity in a relationship, but it is equally important to yield to your partner and give in. If both partners allow one another this influence, then they will learn to respect one another on a deeper level.
- Solve Your Solvable Problems. It is important to compromise on issues that can be resolved, which Gottman believes can be accomplished by these five steps: soften your startup, learn to make and receive repair attempts, soothe yourself and each other, compromise, and be tolerant of each other’s faults.
- Overcome Gridlock. Major issues that cannot be resolved because both partners’ views are so fundamentally different involves understanding of the other person and deep communication. The goal is to at least get to a position that allows the other person to empathize with the partner's view, even if a compromise cannot be reached.
- Create Shared Meaning. Create a shared value system that continually connects the partners through rituals/traditions, shared roles and symbols.
Practical solutions 
Here is a partial list of methods and practices developed by Gottman for marriage and child rearing
Therapist education 
The Gottman Relationship Institute certifies new therapists regularly. Three levels of professional training are generally delivered through intensive two-day seminars led by John Gottman and his wife, Julie, to help therapists:
- Learn to integrate research-based methods and inspire transformation in your work with couples.
- Identify the communication patterns, friendship basis, and conflict management dynamics that characterize enduring intimate relationships.
- Discover a roadmap for helping couples to compassionately manage their conflicts, deepen their friendship and intimacy, and share their life purpose and dreams.
Pre-birth workshop 
Bringing Baby Home is a two-day seminar to help prepare would-be parents to the new baby, using 18 exercises and other tricks. In a peer-reviewed paper, Gottman shows that for a randomly controlled (not blinded) experiment couples attending the workshop were tremendously better off later as follows: Without the workshop, 70% of couples had lower marital satisfaction relative to before birth (a common finding) 58% of mothers has some symptoms of depression after giving birth. Participation in the workshop resulted in no reduction in marital satisfaction, and only 22% of mothers had depressive symptoms.
Self-help Books 
For marriage, raising emotionally intelligent children and on how to bring a new baby home without damaging the relationship.
Personal life 
John Gottman was born in the Dominican Republic to Orthodox Jewish parents. His father was a rabbi in pre-WWII Vienna. John was educated in a Lubavitch yeshiva elementary school in Brooklyn, and currently identifies with Conservative Judaism.
Two decades ago, he married Julie Gottman, a psychotherapist. The couple currently lives in Washington state. They have a biological child together, Moriah Gottman.
Awards and honors 
Gottman has been the recipient of four National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Awards, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Distinguished Research Scientist Award, the American Family Therapy Academy Award for Most Distinguished Contributor to Family Systems Research, the American Psychological Association Division of Family Psychology, Presidential Citation for Outstanding Lifetime Research Contribution and the National Council of Family Relations, 1994 Burgess Award for Outstanding Career in Theory and Research.
Media appearances 
Gottman has been seen on, among other television programs, Good Morning America, the Today Show, the CBS Morning News and Oprah. He has been profiled in the New York Times, the Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, Glamour, Woman's Day, People, Self, the Reader's Digest, Psychology Today, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Gottman has published over 190 papers, and is the author or co-author of 40 books, notably:
- Nan Silver; Gottman, John (1994). Why marriages succeed or fail: what you can learn from the breakthrough research to make your marriage last. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-86748-2.
- Joan Declaire; Gottman, John (1997). The heart of parenting: how to raise an emotionally intelligent child. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80130-2.
- The Marriage Clinic (W.W. Norton, 1999), W W Norton page
- Nan Silver; Gottman, John (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-609-80579-7. – a New York Times bestseller
- Joan Declaire; Gottman, John (2001). The relationship cure: a five-step guide for building better connections with family, friends, and lovers. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-609-60809-6.
- Anne Gartlan; Julie Schwartz Gottman; Joan Declaire (2006). Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America's Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship. Random House Audio. ISBN 0-7393-3237-6.
- Julie Schwartz Gottman; Gottman, John (2008). And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives. New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 1-4000-9738-X.
- Gottman, John (2011). The Science of Trust: Emotional Attunement for Couples. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-70595-1.
- The Gottman Institute. Online Abstracts of Published Research Articles. Accessed online 14 October 2008.
- John Gottman. John Gottman, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Accessed online 14 October 2008.
- "The Top 10: The Most Influential Therapists of the Past Quarter-Century". Psychotherapy Networker. 2007. Retrieved 2012-07-10.
- "Research FAQs". The Gottman Relationship Institute.
- "Research FAQs". The Gottman Relationship Institute. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
- "What is Gottman Method Couples Therapy?". The Gottman Research Institute. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
- Buehlman, K.T., Gottman, John (1996). he Oral History Coding System.(In J. Gottman (Ed.), What predicts divorce? The measures. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Buehlman, K. T.; Gottman, John, Katz, L. F. (1992). "How a couple views their past predicts their future: Predicting divorce from an oral history interview". Journal of Family Psychology 5 (3–4): 295–318. doi:10.1037/0893-3200.5.3-4.295.
- Carrere, S.; Buehlman, K. T., Gottman, J. M., Coan, J. A., & Ruckstuhl, L. (2000). "Predicting marital stability and divorce in newlywed couples". Journal of Family Psychology 14 (1): 42–58. doi:10.1037/0893-3126.96.36.199. PMID 10740681.
- Gottman, John (2003). The Mathematics of Marriage. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-07226-7.
- Heyman RE, Smith Slep AM (May 2001). "The Hazards of Predicting Divorce Without Crossvalidation". J Marriage Fam 63 (2): 473–479. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2001.00473.x. PMC 1622921. PMID 17066126.
- Abraham, Laurie (8 March 2010). "Can You Really Predict the Success of a Marriage in 15 Minutes?". Slate.
- "Research FAQs". Gottman Relationship Institute. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
- Gottman, JM; Levenson, RW (2002). "A two-factor model for predicting when a couple will divorce: exploratory analyses using 14-year longitudinal data". Fam Process 41 (1): 83–96. PMID 11924092.
- The Gottman Relationship Institute, "Gottman Programs for Couples."
- Mathematica Family Support Policy Research website
-  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation.
- Building Strong Families Program Impact Report, Mathematica Policy Research, May 2010.
-  Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Wood, Robert G., et al., "The Building Strong Families Project," May 2010
- MDRC website
- Henthorn, Robert. "National Study Shows Strong Consumer Satisfaction with Marriage and Relationship Education Classes," Fatherhood Channel, October 17, 2012. 
- Matthews, Lisa S.; K. A. S. Wickrama and Rand D. Conger. (August 1996). "Predicting Marital Instability from Spouse and Observer Reports of Marital Interaction.". Journal of Marriage and Family 58 (3): 641–655. doi:10.2307/353725.
- The Marriage Clinic, John Gottman, 1994
- The Science of Trust, John Gottman, 2011
- The Science of Trust, John Gottman, 2011
- The Marriage Clinic, John Gottman, 1994
- Gladwell, Malcolm (2005). Blink. Back Bay Books imprint (Little, Brown and Company). pp. 32–33. ISBN 0-316-01066-9.
- Gottman, John; Silver, Nan (999). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. Crown Publishers imprint (Three Rivers Press). ISBN 0-609-80579-7.
- "Research-based couples therapy training for individuals and groups," The Gottman Relationship Institute website, retrieved November 26, 2012. 
- Weinstein, Natalie (30 May 1997), "Do you want to raise a mensch? Psychology researcher tells how", The Jewish Bulletin of Northern California
- American Family Therapy Academy website
- National Council of Family Relations website
- "About John Gottman" on the Gottman Institute website
- The Gottman Institute
- The Mathematics of Love - An interview (Edge)
- An Interview with John Gottman (Psychotherapy.net)
- Gottman's Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work - Commentary from 50 Psychology Classics (2007)
- John Gottman: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child KUOW-FM Speaker Forum
- John Gottman : Couples workshop training first time in London United Kingdom in 2013
- Building Strong Families Program
- Supporting Healthy Marriage Project