Friday
Mar112011

What Payback Comes from Revenge?

Relationships are full of slings and arrows that can sometimes spark a deep desire to “pay back” perceived offenses. Whether someone has been betrayed by a friend or romantic partner, been offended by a boss or coworker, or been a victim of a crime, the desire for revenge can be very strong. Until recently, however, researchers have known very little about this powerful, volatile experience.

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Thursday
Mar102011

Two Weeks and 11,000 Hits Later...

ScienceOfRelationships.com has been "live" for two weeks and we appreciate all the positive feedback we've received. It's been a super 14 days, with over 11,000 page views since launch.

To answer a question we received yesterday: Yes, we have an RSS feed (we're also on Facebook and Twitter). Keep the questions and suggestions coming; we have posts based on readers' suggestions coming in the next few days.

Thursday
Mar102011

Cheating: Your Voice May Say It All...

People perceive men with lower voices (e.g., Barry White) and women with higher voices (e.g., Mariah Carey) as more likely to cheat. Why? A low male voice indicates high testosterone, while a high female voice indicates high estrogen.

O'Connor, J., Re, D., & Feinberg, D. (2011). Voice pitch influences perceptions of sexual infidelity. Evolutionary Psychology, 9, 64-78.

Wednesday
Mar092011

"He's Just Not That Into You"

A reader submitted the following question: The phrase "He's Just Not That Into You" has been popularized by a recent book and movie. I have found that if a man is not that into a woman, it doesn't work out. But if a man is really into a woman, but she's not into him, will it work out?

Dear Reader:

We don't believe in basing relationship decisions on movies or even books that aren't backed up by scientific study, so let's see what research has to say. The general question here is about equal partnership in a relationship, with both parties holding similar levels of interest (see our post on the principle of least interest). Equal interest in a relationship is a good recipe for success.

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Tuesday
Mar082011

Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You”: Evolutionary Theory and Mate Selection 

Cee Lo Green’s hit song “Forget You” (the Muppet performance from the Grammy’s) is inspired by basic concepts from evolutionary psychology.  In the song, Cee Lo laments the harsh realities of his own insufficient financial resources, “I guess the change in my pocket wasn't enough, I'm like, Forget you.” 

Clearly chagrined at the importance that women place on earning potential, and his inability to afford a Ferrari, he continues,  “I said, if I was richer, I'd still be with ya, Ha, now ain't that some shh.”  Not only is that some “shh” but it's also a nice example of the evolutionary perspective on mate selection.

Interested in learning more about relationships? Click here for other topics on Science of Relationships. Like us on Facebook to get our articles delivered directly to your NewsFeed.

Tuesday
Mar082011

Friends: Like Apples, but with Feet.

The slogan for ScienceOfRelationships.com is "Because the important things in life deserve data." Recent research by Dr. Holt-Lunstad and colleagues reveals just how important our social relationships really are. In their review of 148 studies (representing over 300,000 participants), they show that stronger social relationships, or greater social integration, increase individuals' life-spans. An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but high-quality personal relationships might just keep the grim reaper at bay.

Click here for the Time Magazine write-up of the work.

Monday
Mar072011

Who Fights More: Heterosexual Couples or Gay Couples?

"E.R." submitted the following question: My brother is homosexual and I am a heterosexual female, we often argue about who has more drama in our relationships. He claims that heterosexual relationships have more drama, and that he and his boyfriends have argued less then me and my boyfriends. I think that hetero and homosexual relationships have the same about of arguing and drama. Who is right? Do homosexual and heterosexual relations differ?

Dear E.R.,

Setting aside the irony that you and your brother fight about who has less conflict in your relationships, the short answer is that you are right! The unfortunate reality is that no couple is immune from conflict. In fact, research indicates that gay and lesbian couples not only fight about the same things as heterosexual couples, but they do so with about the same frequency. We all fight about money, sex, lies, minor annoyances and irritations (e.g., your partner’s driving habits), and which set of parents to spend the holidays with.

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Monday
Mar072011

For Better, or Worse? Homer & Marge Simpson, Part 1

One of America’s most enduring fictional TV couples is Homer and Marge Simpson – The Simpsons have been on the air for over twenty years. Is their marriage a model example of how to make a long-term relationship endure, or is it an example of what not to do?

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Friday
Mar042011

NPR interview with Dr. John Maner and Dr. Martie Haselton

If you enjoyed last week's post on John Tierney's write-up about Saul Miller and Jon Maner's work, you might be interested in the new interview on NPR's On Point with Dr. Maner (Florida State University) and Dr. Martie Haselton (UCLA). Click here to check it out at the NPR site.

Wednesday
Mar022011

Ask Dr. Loving: Should We Stay Friends after a Breakup?

(reposted from drloving.net)

Dear Dr. Loving;

I am in the middle of healing and attempting on moving on right now. My boyfriend and I broke up last October, but we only decided to really move on this December. Now, we still see each other and are just now "friends" or "best friends" We text each other everyday (I text him and he replies) and we see each other and hang out or study at least 3-4 times a week. We celebrated his birthday together last week, just me and him. He still gives me a hug after we hang out when I ask him to hug me. Basically, we're still part of each other's lives except we're just simply "close friends."

 Now my question is, do those signs show that he still likes me or is he just doing that because he's a guy? and is this kind of relationship healthy for me? I don't know whether I should really avoid him or just go with the flow with whatever we have. I honestly still want to get back with him, but bringing that up to him always irritates him. He said he doesn't have "time" to be in a relationship anymore. I am not sure whether there's no chance of us getting back together and I'm just fooling myself. -- Conflicted

Dear C;

Let’s start with your second question: No, this kind of relationship is not healthy for you.

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Monday
Feb282011

Help Me, While I Take a Nap

We take it for granted that support from a partner is good (e.g., see the post on invisible support from a few days ago). Partners help you in many ways; when you need help studying for a big exam or are trying to exercise more, having your partner there to support and encourage you is a big help, right? A new paper by Gráinne Fitzsimons and Eli Finkel questions this assumption. They propose that people are actually less motivated and try less hard to achieve their goals when they have thought about the help that a partner could provide them in reaching those goals.

Basically, having a helpful partner can lead you to try getting away with being more of a slacker. For example, if you think about how your partner helped you on a previous academic task, you'll procrastinate more. You'll also exercise less if you previously thought about how your partner had helped with past health and fitness goals. Seriously, why bother with the Shake Weight when you can just think about your partner's help?  These results were accentuated when participants recently exerted energy on other tasks; when they were tired they relied on a partner's help more at the cost of their own efforts.

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Sunday
Feb272011

What Are You Wearing to the Oscars?

At this year's Oscars there were plenty of red dresses on the red carpet. Oscar host Anne Hathaway wore a red Valentino, while other actresses such as Penelope Cruz, Jennifer Lawrence, and Sandra Bullock also wore stunning red dresses.

Sure these dresses are fashionable, but they also make the women who wear them more attractive. Across five experimental studies, researchers at the University of Rochester found that although they don’t realize it, men find women who wear red more sexually desirable than women dressed in other colors.1 Interestingly, wearing red doesn’t make the women seem more kind or more intelligent, just more attractive. On a night when the stars are trying to look attractive, fellow actresses Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Scarlett Johansson might want to considering wearing more red next year. Maybe they'll hire us as Hollywood fashion consultants!  

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Saturday
Feb262011

Who Has the Upper Hand? Power, Sex, and Seinfeld

A recent article on Slate.com, by sociologist Mark Regnerus at The University of Texas at Austin, discusses how males are becoming underrepresented on many college campuses and in the workplace, and are thus likely to call the shots in their (heterosexual) relationships when it comes to sex. The author’s basic argument, which draws from his book entitled Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying, is that good men are becoming hard to find. High-quality men are are in short supply, and, as a result, in high demand. Therefore, they are able to exert more power over women in their relationships. Female partners need to go along with guys' wishes because there are plenty of female fish in the sea for the guys, whereas the women have relatively fewer good alternatives. Although the main area of conflict described in the article is sex, it stands to reason that the logic could be applied to other decisions in relationships, such as what movie to see, which friends to hangout with, or how much Xbox should be played.

This idea is known to close relationships researchers as the “principle of least interest”1—that when there is an inequality in the desire to maintain the relationship between the partners, the person least into the relationship has the power to call the shots. For the Seinfeld fans out there, you might remember the episode The Pez Dispenser (1992) when George laments about his relationships by stating “I have no power. Do you understand? I need hand. I have no hand.” Kramer and Jerry advise George to threaten to break up with his girlfriend, which effectively turns the table in the relationship and subsequently gives George the "hand” he so desperately wanted.

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Friday
Feb252011

Hall Pass: She's Hot...Well, Maybe Not

 

This isn't just a movie preview, it is also a great example of relationship science. In the trailer for the new movie Hall Pass, the guys are out at a club when they see a seemingly attractive woman (@2:14 in the clip). Jason Sudeikis’ character Fred gestures to a group of women and says “tall blonde, right here.” Another guy then points out “she surrounds herself with less attractive women to make her look like a 10.” This same guy goes on to demonstrate this idea by putting his hands up to frame the whole group, “hot…” Next, he moves his hands so that you can’t see the blonde’s friends and says “not…” as you see the woman get visibly less attractive. Fred: “that’s amazing, you’re like a Beautiful Mind.”

This is a fantastic example of the contrast effect.

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Wednesday
Feb232011

Why Do Celebrities Seem to Cheat So Much? 

Quick, in 10 seconds think of as many celebrities as you can who have allegedly been caught cheating. Go! Tiger Woods, Jude Law, Bill Clinton, Dave Letterman, Kobe Bryant, Eliot Spitzer, LeAnn Rimes, Hugh Grant, Bill Clinton some more, Jon Edwards, that guy Sandra Bullock was married to, and Brett Favre. Why is this so easy? Either you have an extraordinary knowledge of celebrities' love lives, or it really is a common phenomenon. So, why do they do it? Because they can.

Everyone may not be created equally when it comes to their opportunities to be unfaithful. In the case of celebrities, they have a high mate value due to their physical attractiveness, money, power, notoriety, or combination thereof. As a result, potential interlopers (i.e., home wreckers) find them highly desirable and are willing accomplices in the affair (because even D-list celebrities are still celebrities).

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Wednesday
Feb232011

What You See vs. What You Get - Can Support Be Invisible?

Maryhope Howland and Professor Jeff Simpson of the University of Minnesota talk about their recent research on "invisible support" in relationships.

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Wednesday
Feb232011

Sustainable Marriage Quiz

Previously we posted about the self-expansion model and relationship development. How does your relationship stack up?

Not Very Much     1    2    3    4    5    6    7     Very Much

  1. How much does being with your partner result in your having new experiences?
  2. When you are with your partner, do you feel a greater awareness of things because of him or her?
  3. How much does your partner increase your ability to accomplish new things?
  4. How much does your partner help to expand your sense of the kind of person you are?
  5. How much do you see your partner as a way to expand your own capabilities?
  6. How much do your partner’s strengths as a person (skills, abilities, etc.) compensate for some of your own weaknesses as a person?
  7. How much do you feel that you have a larger perspective on things because of your partner?
  8. How much has being with your partner resulted in your learning new things?
  9. How much has knowing your partner made you a better person?
  10. How much does your partner increase your knowledge?

__________________________________

Scores

60 and above — Highly Expansive. You are gaining a lot of new experiences and reaching new goals as a result of your relationship. Chances are you have a happier, more sustainable relationship as a result.

45 to 60 — Moderately Exciting. Your relationship has led to moderate improvements in your life and some new experiences. But there’s definitely room for improvement.

Below 45 — Low Connection. Your relationship is not creating opportunities that help expand your knowledge and make you feel better about yourself. Make an effort to share new experiences with your partner to improve your relationship.

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Tuesday
Feb222011

Ovulating Women: Hot or Not?

We're big fans of John Tierney at the New York Times, and in a recent post he discusses new research by Saul Miller and Jon Maner at Florida State University.1 Their work indicates that single men are more attracted to women who are ovulating, but that men in committed relationships are actually less attracted to those same ovulating women. In short, it's adaptive for males to want to mate with fertile females, but the motivation to protect one's current long-term relationship can counteract this effect as committed men downplay the attractiveness of others as a means of protecting their current relationship.2

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Tuesday
Feb222011

Where's the Best Place to Meet Someone?

Rather than simply giving a top ten list of where individuals meet, we're arming you with the basic principles at play during initial encounters:

(1) Physical closeness leads to psychological closeness. You have to interact with a person to have a relationship with him or her, and being around each other ups the chances of having an interaction. Potential partners are all around-- in your neighborhood, in one of your classes, in your church, or in a cubicle down the hall. Not only does physical proximity increase the odds of meeting and interacting with someone, but just seeing a person a lot can lead you to like them more (known as the “mere exposure effect”).1 The girl (or guy) next door will have an advantage in winning your heart because you see that person more often. Like a fungus, she (or he) is going to grow on you whether you realize it or not. 

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Monday
Feb212011

Cold Feet?

A few days ago I received a call from a CNN reporter. This particular reporter had interviewed me previously, and she thought I might be able to help her out with a story she was producing. What follows is an abbreviated transcript of our conversation:

CNN reporter: I’m doing a story on how women in relationships tend to be colder than men, and how that affects relationships. Do you do any research that speaks to that finding?

Me: (doing my best to stifle a chuckle) No, I don’t do any work that is remotely related to that topic, and to be perfectly honest, I question the generalization.

CNN reporter: Well, it’s mostly anecdotal, but there was a study on it.

Me: (now a bit intrigued) Oh, really, what study was that?

CNN reporter: Thanks anyway. <click>

After getting off the phone, I dug around a bit on the internet and found that there had been some recent stories about differences in cold sensitivity between men and women (see here for one example).

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