The detailed study found that wives or girlfriends were pleased when their partner showed emotion because they believed it demonstrated a healthy relationship.
The survey, carried out by Harvard Medical School, also found that when men realised their wife was angry, the women reported being happier, although the men were not.
It revealed women most likely enjoyed spotting when their partner was dissatisfied because it showed his strong “engagement” or “investment” in their time together.
Dr Shiri Cohen, the study’s lead author, said: “It could be that for women, seeing that their male partner is upset reflects some degree of the man’s investment and emotional engagement in the relationship, even during difficult times.
“This is consistent with what is known about the dissatisfaction women often experience when their male partner becomes emotionally withdrawn and disengaged in response to conflict.