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Tuesday
Dec162014

Dieting With Your Partner: Competition Is Futile

After gorging on a holiday meal and leftovers recently, the Consultant and I have completely obliterated our pre-holiday dieting goals. I generally do well with controlling my food portions, which is admittedly hard to do given the fact that food portion sizes have increased 700%1 inside and outside the home over the last 30 years. During the holidays, however, I give myself license to eat a little more because the extra serving of sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie is just too good. It is just once (or twice) a year, right? The holiday meal may not have been the real problem though; the main culprit for me was likely the larger portion sizes consumed on leftovers while family was still visiting.

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Monday
Dec152014

Sponsored: Free Online Dating in the US and Australia

Today we'd like to bring your attention to one of the booming internet markets that's changing the face of how people are connecting far and wide. Fuller Enterprises P/L has released two online dating platforms for the Australian and American matchmaking space. It is an absolutely free service which connects single men and women via various modules and functionalities including powerful zip code search tools, category matching and live chat rooms. Freedatingamerica.com and Freedatingaustralia.com.au is a local dating and friend finder service focused on fun and is attracting plenty of attention for thousands of enthusiasts who are looking for ways to date better and expand their circle of friends within their hometown.  

Thursday
Dec112014

How Relationships Change Us Over Time: Relationship Matters Podcast 40

A new edition of SAGE’s “Relationship Matters” podcast is out! In this edition, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Kevin McIntyre (Trinity University) discusses research regarding how being in a relationship changes who we are as a person.  

Together with Dr. Bent Mattingly (Ursinus College) and Dr. Gary Lewandowski (Monmouth University), McIntyre studied the different ways people change when in a relationship. Specifically, they looked at four different types of changes we experience: (a) Self-expansion refers to people gaining positive personal traits from being in a relationship (e.g., gaining a new hobby one is pleased about), (s) self-adulteration refers to gaining negative personal traits (e.g., gaining a new bad habit one doesnt want), (3) self-contraction refers to losing positive personal traits (e.g., discontinuing a favorite activity), and (4) self-pruning reflects losing negative personal traits (e.g., losing a bad habit one is pleased to be rid of). 

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Tuesday
Dec092014

Can You Spot The Cheater? It Should Only Take You a Few Minutes

The next time you see a couple together, take a few minutes to observe how the partners interact with each other. Based on what you see, consider what you might be able to determine about their relationship. It seems reasonable that you could tell whether they enjoy spending time together or if they’re fighting. But based on your brief observation, could you pick out a cheater? It may sound implausible that anyone could accurately and quickly determine whether someone is cheating on a partner based on a quick observation like this. But researchers from Brigham Young University and Florida State University thought it may be easier than we might think and conducted a series of two studies to get some answers.

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Thursday
Dec042014

How Sweet Food Affects Our Romantic Interests: Relationship Matters Podcast 39

A new edition of SAGE’s “Relationship Matters” podcast is out! In this installment, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dongning Ren (Purdue University) discusses her fascinating research on how the taste of food affects romantic perceptions.

People commonly refer to those with whom they are romantically involved as “sweetie”, “honey”, or “sugar.” It’s a nice sentiment, but could there be more underlying such labels  – i.e., are these words linked to our actual romantic perceptions? Ren, along with colleagues Kenneth Tan and Ximena Arriaga (both from Purdue University) and Kai Qin Chan (Raboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands), conducted three experiments to test the hypothesis that tasting something sweet increases the extent to which individuals judge relationships and potential partners positively.

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Tuesday
Dec022014

Love or Lust?: Follow the Eyes

What can you learn from a person’s gaze? Apparently, a lot. Researchers asked male and female participants to look at photos of couples or opposite-sex individuals and indicate whether the photos elicited lust (i.e., sexual desire) or love. Eye tracking software determined exactly what parts of the photos participants focused on when making their lust vs. love judgments. When deciding whether a given photo portrayed love, male and female participants focused on the faces depicted in the photos, but very little attention was paid to the individuals’ and couples’ bodies. In contrast, when looking for signs of lust, both males and females generally focused more on the bodies in the photos. The researchers suggest this work could inform interventions for therapists who want to identify how couple members view each other.

Bolmont, M., & Cacioppo, J. T., & Cacioppo, S. (2014). Love is in the gaze: An eye-tracking study of love and sexual desire. Psychological Science, 25, 1748-1756.

Tuesday
Nov252014

Four Things You Need to Consider When Deciding to Get Married

In a survey of over 1200 adolescents, 95% of them said that they would get married some day. But, I’m willing to bet that they weren’t ready to get married at the time they answered that question. Why? Likely because they’re young, and when you’re young it feels like you have a million things to take into account before you make a major life decision like getting married. In this post I discuss four things that people take into consideration when deciding whether or not to get married.

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Monday
Nov242014

What If Drivers Ed Was Taught Like Sex Ed?

Read our articles about sex education here.

Thursday
Nov202014

Social Influence and Teen Sex: What Matters and What Doesn’t

American parents often worry that their adolescent children are susceptible to their friends’ influence and will be pressured into having sex before they are ready to do so. Are these worries justified? 

Past research has found that social influence is associated with behaviors such as smoking and alcohol use among teenagers. A recent study extended this work and investigated whether three types of social influence predict adolescent sexual behavior...

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Tuesday
Nov182014

“Are You Listening?!” Cold-Shouldering a Partner’s Successes Leaves Relationships On Ice

When something great happens in our personal lives, it’s exciting to share the event with people close to us.  But at one time or another, you’ve probably disclosed some good news that wasn’t met with the degree of excitement or encouragement you had hoped for. It can be disappointing – even irritating – to get a lukewarm response when you expected the other person’s ardent interest. The process of telling others about our successes and getting a positive reaction is called “capitalization,” and research suggests it has benefits for romantic relationships. 

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Thursday
Nov132014

Stress & Conflict in Relationships: Relationship Matters Podcast 38

A new edition of SAGE’s “Relationship Matters” podcast is out. The podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, brings you the latest from the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. In this edition, Dr. Gwendolyn Seidman (Albright College) discusses how the ways we view our partner affects how our partner reacts to conflict.

Seidman and her colleague, Dr. Christopher Burke (Lehigh University), tracked 264 couples over five weeks during which one member of the couple (i.e., the studier) was studying for the Bar Examination (a highly stressful test lawyers must pass to have the right to practice law in a given jurisdiction).

The research team was especially interested in how the studiers reacted to conflict given the high amount of stress they experienced while preparing for the Bar. Specifically, the researchers wanted to know whether the way partners viewed the studiers – i.e., did the partner see the studier more or less positively than the studier viewed him- or herself -- influenced how the studier felt and reacted when conflict occurred within the relationship.

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Wednesday
Nov122014

Men With Babies: Getting Women’s Phone Numbers is Child’s Play

Are males seen as more attractive if they’re good with babies? To answer this question, a male confederate sat near college-aged women who were alone in public. His “sister” (a female confederate) and her baby then joined him. The male either interacted with the baby by talking, playing, smiling and giving kisses, or ignored the baby. After his sister left, the male struck up a conversation with the female participants, complimented them, and then asked for her digits. When the male played with the baby, 40% of the women gave him their phone numbers compared to only 12% who gave him their phone numbers when he ignored the baby. 

Guéguen, N. (2014). Cues of men's parental investment and attractiveness for women: A field experiment. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 24(3), 296-300. doi:10.1080/10911359.2013.820160

Monday
Nov102014

“Will You be My Bonus Wife?” The Practice of Marrying Sisters in Malawi

Recently I was in Malawi to train a team of field workers to conduct a large-scale survey on HIV prevention behavior. Before such an international trip, I often get a lot of questions regarding the landscape or local culture of my destination from people who are not familiar with my work or the part of the world I happen to be visiting. Most recently, an acquaintance asked me several questions about multiple sexual partnerships and polygamy in Malawi. “Are people really okay with having multiple partners? Even the women? Even married people?” So during my uneventful nights in a remote hotel on top of a mountain in Malawi’s southern region, I did some reading on local marriage customs. Almost as if thoughts were planted by my acquaintance, I came across a concept I was unfamiliar with—the “bonus wife” (mbirigha or nthena in Chichewa, the local language).

In several Malawian cultures, a man acquires a “bonus wife” when he marries the younger sister or niece of his current wife.

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Sunday
Nov092014

The "Awesomeness Factor" on Freakonomics Radio

SofR contributor Melssia Schneider was recently on the Freakanomics Radio podcast talking about predictors of breakup, or what she calls the "awesomeness factor" (see her SofR post on this research here).

You can listen to the podcast here (jump to 28:58 to listen to what Melissa has to say).

Friday
Nov072014

The Truth Behind Online Dating: How It Compares to “Offline” Dating

Read Part 1 of this series here: The Truth Behind Online Dating: What Is and Isn’t Real

Read Part 2 of this series here: The Truth Behind Online Dating: What Motivates Users and Companies

Online daters aren’t really that different from offline daters. I often hear my students claim that people who use online dating are “weirdos” or “that’s for people who can’t get dates in real life.” But the idea that people who prefer online dating are somehow different than offline daters is not supported by science. First of all, different how, exactly? In terms of general personality traits (e.g., openness to new experiences, neuroticism), online and offline daters are not significantly different from each other.1

One study did find that people who have used online dating (ever in their lives) were more sensitive to rejection compared to non-users—but this was a general “have you ever used online dating in your life” question and did not differentiate between one-time users and regular users.

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Tuesday
Nov042014

“Can You Tell That I’m in a Relationship"? Relationship Visibility on Facebook

Think about the last time you were on Facebook. You probably noticed “that couple” – the person who always posts pictures of himself with his girlfriend, or the one who claims that she has “the best boyfriend ever” in her status updates. And then there are the people who you know are in relationships, but there’s no trace of it on Facebook. No “in a relationship” status, no pictures together, maybe no mention of the relationship at all.

My colleagues and I were curious about what drives these decisions – what leads some people in relationships to post profile pictures with their partners and others to not share relationship-relevant information? We examined a concept that we called relationship visibility, which occurs when people make their relationships a central part of the images of themselves that they convey to others.

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Monday
Nov032014

Two Is Stronger Than One: Shared Experiences are More Intense 

image source: heartofthematteronline.comAre life’s experiences better when shared with another person? Participants at Yale University tasted chocolate in a room either (a) along with another person tasting their own chocolate, or (b) with another person who looked at a book of paintings. Participants who ate chocolate with a fellow taster thought the chocolate tasted better than those who tasted chocolate alone. To determine others’ influence on unpleasant experiences, a follow-up study used a similar procedure, but had participants taste a highly bitter chocolate. As before, having a fellow taster present intensified the experience, in this case making the chocolate taste worse.

Boothby, E. J., Clark, M. S., & Bargh, J. A. (2014). Shared experiences are amplified. Psychological Science. (Online) doi: 10.1177/0956797614551162

Sunday
Nov022014

Case Study: "I’m a lesbian marrying a man"

Recently, salon.com ran this article (click here) that tells the story of a lesbian who fell in love with a man. Although this isn't a scientific study, it's consistent with the article that Dr. Dylan Selterman wrote a couple weeks ago, Debunking Myths About Sexual Fluidity.

Friday
Oct312014

The Truth Behind Online Dating: What Motivates Users and Companies

Read Part 1 of this series here: The Truth Behind Online Dating: What Is and Isn’t Real

People are shallow. Psychological science has demonstrated that people often use a “what is beautiful is good” mental shortcut.1 People tend to assume positive characteristics about others based on physical attractiveness, even though these perceptions are not accurate. This bias for beauty has been shown in all types of contexts that are not limited to online dating. A classic study from the 60s on in-person dating found that a date’s hot body/face predicted romantic attraction more than personality traits, intelligence, popularity/charisma, mental health, and self-esteem.

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Thursday
Oct302014

Oxytocin – The Love Hormone: Relationship Matters Podcast 37

The new season of SAGE’s “Relationship Matters” podcast has begun! Hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, “Relationship Matters” brings you the latest from the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. In this season’s premier, Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad (Brigham Young University) discusses her research on the link between relationship quality and oxytocin.

Researchers have long been interested in the hormone oxytocin’s role in inducing labor in mothers and in promoting healthy bonding between mothers and newborn infants. Over the past decade, however, oxytocin’s role in adult romantic functioning has received increasing empirical attention. Some studies find that couples with higher relationship quality show higher oxytocin levels. Explanations for this association include (a) higher levels of oxytocin lead to lower levels of disagreement, (b) lower levels of disagreement lead to higher level of oxytocin, (c) both a and b, or (d) none of the above – some other variable is responsible. Interestingly, other studies find that those higher in distress have increased oxytocin – perhaps as a function of trying to promote or recapture relationship harmony. 

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