Connect With Us

                

SAGE Publications

 

Monday
Jul132015

In Health and Illness: Your Partner’s Mood Matters

Ever felt like the moods of the people around you affect your own mood? Psychologists have long been interested in the idea of such emotional “spillover”, especially in relationships. For example, research has shown that happiness is contagious, as are bad moods across a range of stressful situations. It seems intuitive that if we are living with someone who is depressed then our own mood could also be negatively affected. 

Before getting into specific research on this topic, I should note that it is generally hard to disentangle the exact nature of the association between two people’s mental states, especially when they spend a lot of time together. Was Joan’s depression a reaction to being surrounded by John’s depressive, or were they both depressed all along? (Or is there no relationship whatsoever between their mental health statuses?). Bottom line: like many things, the only way to really know whether two individuals’ mental states spill over to one another is to look at both of their mental health status across time.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jul112015

Finding the Right Person

For articles about compatibility, please click here.

Friday
Jul102015

How Do Romantic Relationships Get Under The Skin? Perceived Partner Responsiveness Predicts Cortisol Profiles 10 Years Later

If someone asked me to pick the most influential finding that has come out of relationship science to date, I’d say it’s this: relationships matter for health. In 1988, House and colleagues published their classic research paper showing that social isolation is a powerful predictor of premature death.1 Since then, dozens of studies have tested and consistently replicated this link. Indeed, a recent meta-analysis of 148 studies (over 300,000 participants!) showed that people with stronger social relationships are about 50% more likely to survive over a 7.5 year period compared to those with weak social ties.2 This is a huge effect: it suggests that social isolation is more dangerous than a number of well-established risk factors of mortality, such as obesity and physical inactivity.

In response to these findings, many policy-makers, health practitioners, and members of the general public have started viewing social relationships not just as a nice-to-have, but as a fundamental human need. Humans simply must have close relationships in order to survive and thrive (for a more theoretical discussion about the human need for relationships, see this post). However, the issue of how relationships affect health is not as well-understood. What aspects of social relationships are particularly important (i.e., specificity), and in what way do social relationships influence the body (i.e., mechanism)? These sorts of questions about specificity and mechanism are what many researchers in the field are now grappling with.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul082015

Best Relationship Song of Summer 2015 – Honey, I’m Good

Summer has only just begun, but I’m going ahead and calling it: The best relationship song of Summer 2015 is Andy Grammer’s Honey, I’m Good. Not only is this song ripe with catchy beats that make you want to clap your hands and sing along, but it’s an anthem for fidelity and commitment. 

As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time talking about relationships, and an all too familiar topic is infidelity. A pet peeve of mine is when people defend their cheating by claiming that it “just happened.” I understand that if someone is under the influence (of alcohol, or perhaps stupidity), then they may not be able to fully comprehend the ramifications of their actions. But before reaching that level there is a point when we all know our behavior is leading towards trouble. This song debunks the idea that infidelity is an accident by reminding us of that moment when we should know better.  Just like the song trumpets, you “could have another but probably should not” and if you stay you “might not leave alone.” It is then that you have a choice to make.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul072015

Catching Up with The Psychology of Attractiveness Podcast

We're a bit behind on our podcast listening and there are three new episodes of The Psychology of Attractiveness podcast by Robert Burriss available for your listening pleasure:

  • Male rivalry: sex, money, and morality. We find out how our rational minds go all screwy when we're faced with attractive rivals or sexual competitors. Three new experiments show how sexual rivalry primes men to be cruel, self-centred, and prone to risk.
  • Pregnancy and desire, and are bigger breasts better? We know that pregnant women get cravings for unusual foods, but does pregnancy also affect what women desire in a man? We also look at a new experiment that shows once and for all whether men prefer larger or smaller breasts. You'll be surprised by the results!
  • Skin colour and the menstrual cycle. Swollen bums and flushed faces: We know that chimpanzees and other primates advertise their fertility with conspicuous physical transformations, but what about humans?

Check out all the available episodes of The Psychology of Attractiveness podcast here.

Monday
Jul062015

Ideal and Actual Marriage Proposals: We Asked, You Answered

Read more about this survey here, and see our infographic on wedding locations here.

Lisa Hoplock, M.Sc. - Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Lisa's research examines how personality traits like self-esteem and attachment influence interpersonal processes in ambiguous social situations -- situations affording both rewards and costs -- such as social support contexts, relationship initiation, and marriage proposals. 

Saturday
Jul042015

Emma Watson's Take on Dating American vs. English Guys

Click here for other articles on culture.

Thursday
Jul022015

Is It Better to be the Breadwinner? Implications for Infidelity

image source: nypost.com/2014/04/30/5-tips-for-female-breadwinners/

A study of 2,757 participants from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth examined how spouses’ relative earnings (i.e., who makes more money) influences likelihood of cheating. Results indicate absolute income did not predict infidelity, so simply earning more money did not make a person more likely to cheat. However, being the breadwinner (i.e., earning more than a spouse) was associated with men being more likely to cheat; the opposite was true for women-- they were less likely to cheat when they made more money than their husbands. Being economically dependent on a spouse (i.e., one spouse makes a lot more than the other) was associated with increased likelihood of cheating in both men and women, though the effect was stronger in men.

Munsch, C. L. (2015). Her support, his support: Money, masculinity, and marital infidelity. American Sociological Review, 80, 469-495. doi: 10.1177/0003122415579989

Tuesday
Jun302015

From Bratz to Natural Beauties

In a previous article, I wrote about how both men and women prefer those who display neotenous (i.e., baby-like) features over adult features and rate those who exhibit them as more attractive.So what happens when toymakers manipulate these baby-like features to give off a sexualized vibe? Enter, the Bratz dolls.

Bratz, owned by MGA Entertainment, is a line of dolls that is very popular with today’s children. Bratz have seen a great deal of controversy in their time on the market, as they are often scantily clad and heavily made up.

The American Psychological Association (APA) formed the Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls in response to public concern over the growing problem of sexualization of children and adolescent females. Researchers have found that it is often females upon which sexuality is imposed, especially in the media.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun292015

Where's The Wedding?

As part of our exclusive survey on engagements and weddings in the 21st century, we asked participants about the type of location and venue they’d like to be married (i.e., their ideal) and where they were (actually) married. The results from this portion of the survey are indicated in the infographic, below. As you can see, people were often married in their ideal locations. The most popular location was in their own or their partner’s hometown. However, a good number of people (36%) wished for a destination wedding, but instead married elsewhere. What we don’t know is what kept people from getting married in their ideal location. Lack of money? Inconvenience? Guests or the couple members being unable to travel? All of the above? Stay tuned…

In terms of wedding venue, how many people said they were “goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married?” Just over 25% (a total of 106 respondents). But, holding the wedding at a church, synagogue, or similar was not the most popular wedding venue -- it actually came in second. The most popular venue for our respondents was at an outdoor location (146 people, or  37%). The least popular venue? The courthouse -- with only 19 people (5%) of our sample getting married with the good ol’ justice of the peace or similar. This comes as no surprise; people are often reluctant to hold their wedding at the courthouse, preferring instead to have a more elaborate ceremony,1 a trend that has grown considerably over the last 50 years.2 Next up, we'll look at how and where the marriage proposal occurred.

See more about this study here.

1Gibson-Davis, C. M., Edin, K., & McLanahan, S. (2005). High hopes but even higher expectations: The retreat from marriage among low-income couples. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 1301-1312.

2Wallace, C. (2004). All Dressed in White: The Irresistible Rise of the American Wedding. Penguin Books.

Lisa Hoplock, M.Sc. - Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Lisa's research examines how personality traits like self-esteem and attachment influence interpersonal processes in ambiguous social situations -- situations affording both rewards and costs -- such as social support contexts, relationship initiation, and marriage proposals. 

Saturday
Jun272015

Love vs. In Love vs. Really In Love

Image from Demetri Martin; you can find more of his material here.

For more of our articles about love, see here.

Thursday
Jun252015

From Saying “Yes” to Saying “I Do”: An Exclusive ScienceOfRelationships.com Series on Being Engaged and Getting Married

From the moment two people decide to get married through their wedding day, partners face a host of unique experiences during their engagement period, including more in-depth interactions with in-laws, making important joint financial decisions, and preparing for a publically declared, lifelong commitment.  Yet, despite the significance of the events leading up to the big day, only a few empirical studies have focused on the unique experiences that comprise the engagement period.1,2,3 And though private companies like The Knot have surveyed their subscribers about their engagements and weddings,4 these studies represent a select group of respondents. In an effort to more broadly address the question of “What’s it like to be engaged in the 21st century?”, ScienceOfRelationship.com, in collaboration with researchers from the Loving Lab at The University of Texas at Austin recently recruited nearly 400 newly-engaged or newly-wed individuals from around the United States. The research team asked individuals a range of questions, some of which are reviewed below (with a sneak peak at a few results as well!). Over the coming days, we will be posting the latest findings on being engaged in the 21st century.

1Burgess, E. W., & Wallin, P. (1944). Predicting adjustment in marriage from adjustment in engagement. American Journal of Sociology, 49, 324-330. doi:10.1086/219426 

2Knobloch-Fedders, L. M., & Knudson, R. M. (2009). Marital ideals of the newly-married: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26(2-3), 249-271. doi:10.1177/0265407509106717

3Wright, J. (1990). Getting engaged: A case study and a model of the engagement period as a process of conflict-resolution. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 3(4), 399-408. doi:10.1080/09515079008256710

4Bennett, C., & Perciballi, J. (2015, March 12). The Knot, The #1 Wedding Site, Releases 2014 Real Weddings Study Statistics. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 

Taylor Anne Morgan - Ph.D. Candidate - The University of Texas at Austin 
Taylor Anne’s research focuses on different stages of romantic relationships, with an emphasis on the associated cognitions at each transition point. Specifically, she is interested in how fluctuations in relationship evaluations over time affect relationship and individual outcomes.

 

Liz Keneski - Ph.D. Candidate - The University of Texas at Austin 
Liz's research centers around the intersection of romantic relationships, social networks, and health. Specifically, her research interests include social network support and romantic partner support processes, romantic relationship development and transition norms, and psychological and physiological resilience to relationship stress.

Monday
Jun222015

Is It Better to “Date Up” or Play Within Your Own League?

If you were to take 100 single people, all looking for a relationship, and put them in a room together for an evening, who would end up together? Although there are a myriad of factors that lead individuals to form romantic attachments, a longstanding theory in relationship science makes a simple prediction. Specifically, the matching hypothesis predicts that people will pair up with a partner who has the same social mate value.1 Your social mate value includes all of the factors that go into making you more or less desirable to date such as your physical attractiveness, your personality, etc. Essentially, according to the matching hypothesis, if you are a “7” out of 10 in terms of mate value you’ll end up with another “7,” or very close.  “10’s” go with “10’s,” “2’s” with “2’s” and so on.

Perhaps due to the matching hypothesis’s intuitive appeal, the field of social psychology has largely accepted it as true, despite a general lack of empirical support. To address this gap between theory and data, researchers from the University of California – Berkeley tested the matching hypothesis across several studies.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun182015

What Are You Sharing on Facebook (and What Does It Say About You)?

Facebook status updates function as windows into our lives that allow us to share with the world. If you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed, chances are you are at least a little bit curious about why your friends share what they do. Why do some tend to share almost exclusively about their favorite sports team, pet, or celebrity while others seem to share every passing thought? Out of all the infinite ways we can update our Facebook statuses, why do we post what we post, and what exactly are we communicating by our posts?

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun162015

Another Guilty Pleasure? Yes, Please!

 

June 18th, 2015, isn’t just another day. It is Christian Grey’s birthday and the scheduled release date for E. L. James’ newest romantic thriller, Grey, a companion to the original, Fifty Shades of Grey, told from Christian’s perspective. For fellow Fifty fans looking for a reason to indulge in this guilty pleasure, click here

Monday
Jun152015

Is Marriage Really Synonymous with Monogamy?

After her husband of 18 years reveals that he has gotten a vasectomy, successful magazine journalist Robin Rinaldi comes to the sinking realization that she will not have the family she had once hoped for. Being that she can’t create the home life she dreamed of, she decides to go down a different path and explore her sexuality. In her book, The Wild Oats Project,1 Rinaldi discusses her quest for passion after she proposes an arrangement in which she will live on her own and be free to take on lovers during the week, while returning home to her role as a wife on the weekends. The book discusses her sexual quest to feel fulfilled as she takes on both male and female lovers and attend workshops geared towards getting in touch with her sexual self. Lest I spoil the end of her intriguing narrative, it would be better to leave you questioning whether or not her marriage was able to sustain the shake-up caused by this mutually, albeit somewhat coerced, agreement. Also, whether or not her marriage survived, it begs the question: Is marriage really synonymous with monogamy?

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun112015

Brides’ and Fiancés’ Weight Leading Up to the Wedding

How do brides’ physiques measure up to their fiancés? To answer this question, over 600 brides-to-be recorded their and their fiancés’ weight, height, and weight change over the 6 months leading up to their wedding. Partners’ weights and heights were associated such that lighter brides had lighter fiancés; Heavier brides had heavier fiancés. In the 6 months leading up to the wedding, equal numbers of brides lost, gained, and stayed the same weight, while most men stayed the same weight. Women who were more similar in weight to their fiancés were more likely to lose weight. Overall, women seem to feel a need to be thinner than their male partners, especially leading up to the wedding.

Prichard, I., Polivy, J., Provencher, V., Herman, C. P., Tiggemann, M., & Cloutier, K. (2015). Brides and young couples: Partner’s weight, weight change, and perceptions of attractiveness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 32, 263-278. doi: 10.1177/0265407514529068

image source:bridalbodyclub.com

Monday
Jun082015

The Pornography Effect on Men and Their Romantic Relationships

Although many people do not realize it, the pornography industry is enormous. Widely hidden from view, it generates an estimated $13 billion dollars a year from within the United States alone, which is more annual revenue than Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, eBay and Netflix produce combined.1 

With its widespread availability, pornography is becoming what a lot of people want to call "normal." After all, it is just sex, so how can it be bad? A common refrain I hear about porn from the couples I counsel is women complaining how they don't like it, while their men say, "it's normal and every guy does it." So who's right? Maybe they both are.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun042015

Features that Signal Attractiveness: The Kylie Jenner Effect

After the youngest Kardashian sister admitted that she has benefitted from temporary lip fillers, the internet has been abuzz with the #KylieJennerChallenge, as people all over the world are putting their lips to bottles and sucking in to create a fuller, plumper lip. Why is it that girls are interested in obtaining Kylie’s plump pout? Is it some sort of obsession with looking like a Kardashian, or is there more to it? Although the answer may be a little bit of both, there is indeed a psychological underpinning to the desire to obtain these features.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun022015

See No Evil, Smell No Evil (possible alternative partners)

Individuals in committed romantic relationships tend to downplay the attractiveness of potential partners. This derogation of alternatives, as researchers refer to it, helps the relationship’s long-term future by decreasing the likelihood that partners will be tempted by others.1 To determine whether somebody derogates alternatives, researchers typically straight-up ask them (e.g., “I regularly find myself looking at attractive others”) or, more sneakily, record how long (heterosexual) individuals look at pictures of opposite-sex people when presented with a range of photos. What both of these measures have in common is they basically rely on what people look at. But what about the other senses? Do we derogate in other ways? Follow the nose….

Click to read more ...