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Wednesday
May272015

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue?

I regularly teach a college course on “Family Relationships”, which, as you’d probably guess, is disproportionately (and stereotypically) more popular among women than men (most of whom, incidentally, are neither engaged nor in a relationship with their likely future spouse). When we get to the topic of the transition to marriage, I like to ask my students, “How many of you have a Pinterest board dedicated solely to your future wedding?” The number of hands that go up, sometimes sheepishly, is surprisingly large (obviously, this is a non-scientific personal observation from the front of the classroom in Texas). What I think this informal poll illustrates is the enormous amount of pressure women experience when it comes to planning that ‘special day.’ And why not? Getting married is a big deal. But all that pressure and buildup can come with a cost.

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Thursday
May212015

The Psychology of Attractiveness Podcast - Beer Goggles and Penis Arrows

Robert Burriss straps on beer goggles to find out how alcohol influences attractiveness. Also, you have a penis! Well, half of you do, and we discover what happens to men’s sexual thoughts when they’re reminded of what they’re packing in their tighty whities.

Check out the newest episode of The Psychology of Attractiveness podcast here.

Tuesday
May192015

Cheating: It's a Family Affair

Why do people cheat? It’s a question we get (and address) here at ScienceOfRelationship.com regularly. Our coverage of the topic generally reflects the state of research on the topic, which focuses on proximal predictors of infidelity --- or science jargon for those things about individuals or relationships that directly increase the likelihood somebody will cheat, such as low commitment, more attractive alternatives, lack of impulse control, narcissism, and so on. But what if we dig further in a person’s history, perhaps even preceding her or his foray into the world of romantic and sexual relationships? Are there more distal signs or risk factors for whether somebody will one day cheat on a partner? It would appear so.

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Thursday
May142015

Mythbusting Online Dating

Online dating is increasingly popular, and yet misinformation about the industry abounds. Let’s examine four common myths, and why they're wrong: 

1. Everyone is lying

There is a widespread belief that dating sites are filled with dishonest people trying to take advantage of earnest, unsuspecting singles. Research does show that a little exaggeration in online dating profiles is common.1 But it's common in offline dating as well. Whether online or off, people are more likely to lie in a dating context than in other social situations.2 As I detailed in an earlier post, the most common lies told by online daters concern age and physical appearance. Gross misrepresentations about education or relationship status are rare, in part because people realize that once they meet someone in person and begin to develop a relationship, serious lies are highly likely to be revealed.3

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Tuesday
May122015

Parental Emotional Coaching and Children's Peer Relationships: Relationship Matters Podcast 47

In the season finale of SAGE’s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Kelly Buckholdt (University of Memphis) discusses the role of parental emotion coaching on their kid’s relationships with peers.

The research team (also consisting of Katherine Kitzmann and Robert Cohen, both of the Univ. of Memphis), studied 129 fourth through sixth graders. The students were asked about how their parents respond when the kids were sad or angry. Students were also asked about their peer-relationships, feelings of respect from peers, and feelings of loneliness and optimism.

So what did they find? If kids reported that their parents were low in emotion coaching (i.e., not very good at helping the kid process and understand feelings), then the kids were more likely to feel lonely when they weren’t happy about their peer-relationships. But when parents were seen as good at emotion coaching, then kids still felt socially competent and had a positive self-perception, even when they had problematic peer relationships. Thus, it seems that parent emotion coaching may buffer kids from potential negative effects associated with poor peer relationships.

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Thursday
May072015

7 Ways to Use Science to Help Your Partner Meet His or Her Goals

Most advice on pursuing goals focuses on what you can do to achieve your own aims. But how can you help those you love to achieve their goals? Relationship partners play an important role in helping or hindering our progress toward our goals.1

Here are seven science-backed tips for helping your partner:

1. Encourage your partner

Research shows that encouragement from romantic partners to pursue goals in areas such as career, school, friendship, and fitness makes people more likely to actually achieve those goals.2

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Tuesday
May052015

The Psychology of Attractiveness Podcast - Is Beauty Contagious?

Robert Burriss discusses how the average attractiveness of a group of people is influenced by its members. Also, how the ratio of men to women in our social group meddles with our mating psychology.

Check out the newest episode of The Psychology of Attractiveness podcast here.

Friday
May012015

Nice Genes: Serotonin, Conflict, and Marital Satisfaction

Ever wonder what can cause one couple to stay together and another to divorce? One study found that high levels of negative emotion such as arguing or criticism and low levels of positive emotion such as indifference during marital interactions were associated with lower levels of martial satisfaction.1 In other words, if a couple fights a lot, and does so in a not-so-nice way, they’re not as happy in their marriage. This conclusion seems like a “no brainer.” Who wants to be in a hostile relationship?  

But we all know couples that seem to fight all the time yet remain relatively happy and stay together for years, whereas others seem to split at the first sign of a disagreement. Is there a way to tell if a relationship is at risk for being especially affected by negative interaction dynamics?

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Wednesday
Apr292015

Break-Ups Don’t Have to Leave You Broken (VIDEO)

A TED talk by SofR's Dr. Gary Lewandowski.

Monday
Apr272015

What Happens When Your Partner Wants To Do It and You’re Not in the Mood?

If you’re in a long-term relationship, you probably remember the early “honeymoon period”—those first few months when you couldn’t get enough of each other (and maybe couldn’t keep your hands off each other). But, if you’re like most couples, your sex life has changed between then and now.1 In fact, it’s likely that there are (more) times in your relationship when one of you wants to have sex, but the other is not in the mood.

In a new set of studies,2 my colleagues and I looked at how couples manage these situations when partners have different sexual interests in ways that are satisfying to both romantic partners. We were specifically interested in this topic because desire discrepancies between partners are common in relationships—in one of our studies, 80% of people had experienced a desire discrepancy with their partner in the past month; in other study, couples reported some degree of desire discrepancy on 5 out of 7 days a week. And we know from past research that disagreements related to sex can be very difficult to resolve successfully.

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Friday
Apr242015

Do Your Preferences for a Romantic Partner Influence Your Actual Choice of Romantic Partner?

A lot of research, from all over the world, has asked people about what they prefer in a future romantic partner. There is a big assumption in almost all of this research: that these preferences matter when people choose a romantic partner from many possible alternatives. For example, if my friend Chris says he prefers a woman that is a few years younger than him, outgoing, ambitious, and wants to start a family (eventually), most would assume when deciding to enter a romantic relationship he should be more likely to select someone that closely matches, rather than defies, his preferences. If my friend Shelby says she is looking for a dark-haired man with sagacious eyebrows who can simultaneously walk and chew gum, then she should be more likely to enter a relationship with a man that is both intelligent and has eyebrows and that scores high on the sagaciousness scale (assuming he knows what sagaciousness means).

I have not counted the number of studies that focus on “interpersonal attraction”, the general term used to describe research that is concerned with partner preferences, but it is safe to say that there are hundreds upon hundreds of published research studies on this topic.1 So do individual’s preferences for a romantic partner when they are single reflect the traits and personalities of their actual future romantic partners?

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Wednesday
Apr222015

The Psychology of Attractiveness Podcast - How Parents Meddle in Their Children's Love Lives

Meet the parents! Robert Burriss discusses two new experiments show how choosing a partner can send shockwaves across the generations. Find out how parents meddle in their children’s love lives, and how sexy sons lead to handsome fathers.

Check out the newest episode of The Psychology of Attractiveness podcast here.

Monday
Apr202015

What Do People Do on Facebook When They Are Breaking Up?

Most young adults use some form of social network, and among those platforms, Facebook is one of the most popular with nearly 1.4 billion monthly users and approximately 890 million users who login each day.1 And while many aspects of people’s lives play out on Facebook, their relationships are a particularly central part of their profiles.2 And although Facebook can be used to display new or happy3 relationships, people have to manage the end of their relationships on Facebook as well.

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Thursday
Apr162015

Negative Consequences of Emotional Suppression: Relationship Matters Podcast 46

In SAGE’s newest edition of the Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Stephania Balzarotti (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Italy) discusses the consequences associated with frequently holding back, or suppressing, communication of emotions within marriage. 

The work, carried out with Patrizia Velotti (University Genoa, Italy), Semira Tagliabue (Catholic University), Giulio Zavattini (University of Rome, Italy), and Tammy English and James Gross (both of Stanford University), tracked 299 newlywed couples for two years, once in the first 6 months of their marriages and then again about 18 months later. The couple members independently provided information about how often they withhold expressing their emotions from their partners and indicated how satisfied they were in their marriage.

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Wednesday
Apr152015

Face It, Recover the Self to Recover from Break-Up

Break-ups are tough. Your world changes and you may be left feeling sad, confused, and lonely; When you lose a relationship, you not only lose your partner, you also lose part of your self.1 In fact, after breaking-up, people have fewer responses to provide to the question “Who am I?”, and they generally feel more unsure about who they are as a person. Given the potential damage to one’s self-concept, recovery from break-up should go more smoothly when individuals focus on restoring their sense of self.

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Monday
Apr132015

I (Don’t) Want 2 B w/ U: Texting, Sexting, and Avoidant Attachment

We’ve written a lot about avoidant attachment (see here and here for more on attachment), but here’s a quick summary: Those who are high in avoidance tend to be uncomfortable with intimacy, want less closeness in their relationships, and distrust others more. And when it comes to electronic communication with partners, it turns out that avoidance also is related texting and sexting behaviors, but in different ways. 

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Friday
Apr102015

Knowledge About Your Adolescent’s Life: Will it Necessarily Decline Over Time? (Hint: Probably)

As we’ve reviewed previously, it’s hard for parents to fight the natural expectations kids develop regarding their right to privacy; as kids grow older and become more independent they naturally desire more privacy which causes them to disclose less and less to their parents. As a result, how much parents know about what their kids do on a daily basis (i.e., parental knowledge) declines during adolescence.

But much of the past work on the topic of parental knowledge focuses on mean, or average, levels of parental knowledge rather than considering the possibility that different types of families might show different patterns of change, or trajectories, in such knowledge over time. Such heterogeneity in parental knowledge would have important implications and applications as it would help researchers identify those families (and their potentially resilient characteristics) that are able to ward off declines in parental knowledge versus those that demonstrate more typical patterns (and, as a parent, I can imagine that information being very useful). 

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Wednesday
Apr082015

The Psychology of Attractiveness Podcast - Preventing Cheating with "Coalitional Mate Retention"

With a little help from my friends: Robert Burriss discusses two new experiments that examine how people use coalitional mate retention tactics to prevent their partners from cheating. Your friends can help to keep your partner faithful.

Check out the newest episode of The Psychology of Attractiveness podcast here.

Monday
Apr062015

Your Self-Perceived Relationship Desirability Influences Your Self-Esteem

Your self-esteem depends in part on your internal “sociometer,” or how socially accepted you feel. To test the importance of social acceptance within romantic relationships (i.e., a “mating sociometer”), researchers measured participants’ self-esteem, self-perceived attractiveness, and romantic self-confidence (“I have no difficulty maintaining a satisfying romantic relationship”). Greater self-perceived attractiveness increased romantic self-confidence, which produced higher self-esteem. It seems looking good makes you more confident about your ability to attract and maintain relationships, which bodes well for your self-esteem.

Bale, C., & Archer, J. (2013). Self-perceived attractiveness, romantic desirability and self-esteem: A mating sociometer perspective. Evolutionary Psychology, 11(1), 68-84.

Sunday
Apr052015

A Unique Date Night in L.A. for Fans of ScienceOfRelationships.com (sponsored)

Love Lab LIVE! is the first-of-its-kind interactive show that puts science to the test on everyone's favorite subjects: love and sex. Want to know how a six becomes a ten on the mating market? Can your nose choose a better partner than your eyes? Find out if your marriage passes the divorce predictor test! Whether you are single, married, or in between, don't miss this live social experiment hosted by America's Relationship Expert, Dr. Wendy Walsh (CNN’s Human Behavior Expert and former co-host of The Doctors.) Lucky audience volunteers will have the opportunity to participate in fun experiments that reveal the science  -- and humor -- behind seduction, and even win a free DNA compatibility test provided by InstantChemistry.com. Dr. Wendy is joined by a powerhouse professional panel, including Sexologist, Dr. Patti Britton, Couple’s Therapist, Dr. Adam Sheck, and Dating Coach, Evan Marc Katz. Some talented comedians will keep the night lively.

Love Lab LIVE! is for singles, couples, long-term marrieds, and even threesomes!

This event will sell out. Get your tickets early.

April 18, 2015. Doors open at 6:30. Show starts at 7pm. Tix: $45.

THE EDYE THEATER 
AT THE SANTA MONICA COLLEGE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
1310 11TH STREET, SANTA MONICA, CA 90401  

Get your ticket here and use the code SOR35 for $10 off the ticket price.