Wednesday
Mar262014

The Grass Is Greener on the Internet: Pornography, Alternatives, and Infidelity

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for that last 20 years, you likely know that the internet is full of pornography. But does exposure to porn hurt your relationships? Although there are conflicting results and plenty of questionable science on this topic (see here for an example), a new study suggests that watching porn may indeed impact certain aspects of relationship quality.1 Specifically, the researchers examined whether exposure to pornographic videos (i.e., the kind of thing you’re most likely to come across on the internet) increases people’s perception of relationship alternatives (read more about alternatives here), which negatively affects relationship quality. 

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Monday
Mar242014

The Nose Knows: Detecting Sickness by Scent

image source: myteespot.com/images/Images_d/DSCF8661.jpgResearchers injected 8 volunteers with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a molecule found on bacteria that induces a strong “internal” immune response similar to the one that occurs when people are sick (e.g., increases in body temperature and immune cells). The volunteers wore t-shirts to collect their body odor (and also provided t-shirts worn after saline administration, which served as a control condition). A separate group of participants later rated the t-shirts for pleasantness and healthiness. The participants rated the LPS condition t-shirts as more unpleasant and less healthy relative to the ‘normal’ t-shirts. In other words, when we’re sick, we release a funk that tells others to stay away. Follow your nose—it always knows.

Olsson, M. J., Lundström, J. N., Kimball, B. A., Gordon, A. R., et al. (in press). The scent of disease: Human body odor contains an early chemosensory cue of sickness. Psychological Science.

Sunday
Mar232014

Your First Sexual Experience Happens in a GIF

Saturday
Mar222014

What Makes Men Good Dancers? (video)

Friday
Mar212014

Can We Keep Passion Alive? Relationship Matters Podcast #30

Kicking off the new season, the 30th installment of SAGE’s Relationship Matters podcast, produced and hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, brings you the latest science from the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, translated into practical and applicable knowledge that you can apply to your own relationships. In this season’s premier, Dr. Virgil Sheets (Indiana State University) discusses his recent research on how to keep passionate love alive (and well) in long-term relationships.

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Wednesday
Mar192014

Bullying: It’s Not Just for Kids Anymore

My partner, The Consultant, has a teenage daughter who has recently been the target of bullying at her middle school. For many, the term “bullying” immediately conjures up images of teenagers spreading rumors about each other or stealing young children’s lunch money. Indeed, even www.stopbullying.org defines bullying as “unwanted and aggressive acts exhibited by school-aged children.” However, during my conversations with her about how mean teenage girls can be, I hated to inform her that bullying continues well into adulthood.

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Monday
Mar172014

Intimacy and Passion Go Together Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter

image source: laineyslifelessons.blogspot.comIntimacy and passion are two key components of a high-quality relationship. But to what extent are intimacy and passion intertwined? In a recent study, couples reported on their feelings of intimacy (e.g., how much they self-disclosed and felt close to one another) and passion in their relationships each day for three weeks. They also noted whether they had sex each day and if that sex was satisfying. Increases in intimacy over time were associated with higher passion, as well as more frequent and better sex. 

Rubin, H., & Campbell, L. (2012). Day-to-day changes in intimacy predict heightened relationship passion, sexual occurrence, and sexual satisfaction: A dyadic diary analysis. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 3, 224-231.

Saturday
Mar152014

First Kisses...Between Strangers

Friday
Mar142014

“I Was Just Kidding!”: How You Should Use Humor During an Argument

Why does humor sometimes defuse tension and bring you closer to your partner but other times leave you back-pedaling and saying, “I was just kidding!”? After observing couples engage in a conflict, researchers determined that the partners of individuals who used more affiliative humor (e.g., funny stories that emphasize the connection between partners) and less aggressive humor (e.g., sarcasm, criticism) felt closer after the discussion, thought the conflict was better resolved, and were more satisfied with their relationships overall.

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Thursday
Mar132014

Female Adolescents’ First Coitus: Gaining Sexual Experience, Not Just “Losing” Virginity

Taking advantage of a large-scale study in which 14- to 17-year-old adolescent women completed 84 successive days of brief surveys (i.e., “daily diaries”), researchers identified 41 women who reported having sex for the first time during the diary period. The research team assessed how women felt on the day prior to, the day of, and the day after having sexual intercourse for the first time. The women reported greater sexual interest the day just prior to their first intercourse (and on the day of), relative to the day after having sex for the first time, and they reported similarly higher levels of sexual interest on subsequent days on which they had sex (as did their more sexually experienced counterparts in the larger sample).

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Wednesday
Mar122014

Infographic: Your Body, Your Relationship

Tuesday
Mar112014

Girls (and Boys) Gone Wild: Commitment and Infidelity during Spring Break

Infidelity-- cheating, being unfaithful, or what researchers would describe as “couple members’ violations of relationship norms regarding exclusivity”-- clearly can cause negative emotions such as feelings of betrayal, hurt, and jealousy.1 With spring break (at American colleges and universities) just around the corner, we thought it would be a good time to discuss how relationship commitment affects the likelihood of infidelity when partners are geographically separated and tempted by the fruit of another.

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Monday
Mar102014

Revenge and Rebound Sex: Bouncing Back, Into Bed

One of the sad truths about dating is that sometimes you get dumped, and when you do, you’re probably going to be pretty pissed at your ex. If you want to get back at them for making the worst mistake of their lives, jumping into bed with someone else will surely teach them a lesson, right? Or if your breakup simply has you feeling blue, maybe you think that hooking up with someone else will help you feel better, at least for a little while.

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Sunday
Mar092014

Those Love Geeks on Online Dating

Saturday
Mar082014

The History of Men's Breakup Songs

Friday
Mar072014

Put Yourself in Your Partner’s Shoes Before Reacting to Bad Behavior

image source: http://peter-fong.com/98-put-yourself-in-my-shoes/

When your partner behaves badly, your first instinct may be to retaliate. What could help you respond more healthily? In a series of studies, romantically-involved individuals responded to scenarios wherein their partner acted in a hurtful way (e.g., bringing them to a family reunion but then ignoring them). People who took their partner’s perspective (vs. their own) reacted with more love- and caring-related emotions, better understood their partner’s viewpoint, and tried to find positive solutions to the issue. Perspective-takers also responded with less anger, blamed their partner less, and avoided lashing out. Thus, perspective-taking can help you navigate relationship conflict.1

1Arriaga, X. B., & Rusbult, C. E. (1998). Standing in my partner’s shoes: Partner perspective taking and reactions to accommodative dilemmas. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24, 927-948.

Thursday
Mar062014

Book Giveaway: A Million First Dates

We were recently given a few copies of A Million First Dates: Solving the Puzzle of Online Dating by Dan Slater to share with our readers. Here's how you can enter to win a free copy:

1) Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

2) Fill out this form.

This giveaway is only open to readers with a mailing address in the United States. We'll choose 3 winners on March 28th and send your book shortly after that.

Wednesday
Mar052014

The “Cheerleader Effect” (Yes, It Exists)

You gotta love when pop culture inspires scientific research. Motivated by one of my favorite TV shows, How I Met Your Mother, the authors of a recent paper published in Psychological Science1 investigated Barney Stinson’s claim that people appear more attractive when surrounded by others in a group relative to when they are viewed by themselves. He calls this the “Cheerleader Effect,” inspired by the stereotype that cheerleader groups seem very attractive because of how they appear in groups/teams, even though individual cheerleaders are not more attractive than average.

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Monday
Mar032014

Will You Still Be Together in Six Months? Take the Quiz!

How have you fared in Valentine Debriefing Open Season 2014? You know how it is—if you were lucky enough to have a valentine, then every friend, coworker, and inquisitive relative feels somehow entitled to all the details after your big day. Reliving Valentine’s Day can be fun and rewarding if things are going well with your partner. But maybe February 14th wasn’t quite what you expected this year. Maybe you two had a fight. Maybe your partner let you down in some way. Maybe after the last chocolate wrapper fluttered into the trashcan, you found yourself questioning things. How is this going? Will this relationship last?  

Whether your Valentine’s Day was lovely or a letdown, go ahead and take today’s relationship quiz (if you’re in a relationship, that is). It’s short—just 7 questions—and will give you instant feedback about your short-term prognosis at the end. I recommend taking it now, before reading further, so you can give your natural responses.

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Friday
Feb282014

S&M: No Pain, No (Relationship) Gain?

My friend Monika recently shared a concern that her sex play with her boyfriend has been spilling over into other areas of her life. Several months ago, her boyfriend requested that she take on a sadistic, dominatrix-like role in their sexual relationship. Sadomasochism (S&M) involves using bondage, spanking, and other types of dominating sexual play, with the sadist being the dominant partner and the masochist being on the receiving end. At first, she was uncomfortable with the request because it was not something she had ever done before. However, after playing things out a little bit, she found the role quite exciting and empowering—her boyfriend also clearly enjoyed their sexual experiences. Now their sexual practices nearly always involve S&M, with her boyfriend getting off being the consenting recipient of (non-injurious) pain during their sexual experiences.1 Although Monika is more comfortable with assuming a dominating role than she used to be, she is not as sexually satisfied as she once was.

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