Gottman’s Four Horseman Model

Criticism[will]attack[ed] characteristics of identit<y|ies>
“behind every criticism is a wish”
[will]assault[ed], [will]rejected[ed], [will]harm[ed]“gentle startup”; talk about feelings using “I statements” in positive ways.
Contempt[will]execute[ed] disrespect, mocking, ridicule, sarcasm, name calling, and mimicking
“single greatest predictor of divorce”
[will]despise[d], [will]devalue[d]build culture of appreciation and respect; express appreciation, gratitude, affection, and respect.
Defensiveness[will]deploy[ed] excuse and play innocent victim
Response to stress and attack.
[cj:[redacted]]take responsibility for the part of the conflict
Stonewalling[will]behave[ed] to withdraw, shut down, stop responding (e.g., tune out, act busy, engage in distractions, or turn away)
Response to contempt, psychological flooding.
[cj:[redacted]]engage in psychological self-soothing; breaks of at least 20 minutes for physiological calming; avoid righteous indignation, innocent victimhood (i.e., rumination; engage in music, reading, exercise (help calm down).
Adapted from Bridley & Daffin (2001, pp. 12.26-12.29) and Lesitsa (2013)


Bridley, L., & Lane, C. (2021). Principles of social psychology, 2nd Ed. Washington State University.

Lesitsa, E. (2013, April 24). The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. Retrieved from