Sunday
Mar202011

Statistically Significant Other

From xkcd.com.
Friday
Mar182011

Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, and Love at First Sight

Countless books, songs, and movies have rapturously portrayed the idea that you might one day look across the room, lock eyes with a stranger, and know instantly that you two are meant to be together forever. This phenomenon is portrayed in the movie The Adjustment Bureau in which Matt Damon’s character meets Emily Blunt’s character briefly in a bathroom and is thereafter willing to defy scary men in suits who control the world in order to be with her. 

So what does science have to say about love at first sight?

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Mar172011

Do Happy Teens Divorce More?

A recent article indicates teenagers who were most happy were also more likely to divorce as adults. But remember: correlation doesn't equal causation! It's probably the case that teenage happiness is associated with the self-confidence, support, and enpowerment to leave bad relationships as an adult; not that happiness itself causes divorce.

Click here to read more about these findings on the HuffingtonPost.com.

Richards, M., & Huppert, F. A. (2011). Do positive children become positive adults? Evidence from a longitudinal birth cohort study. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6, 75-87.

Wednesday
Mar162011

For Better, or Worse? Homer & Marge Simpson, Part 2

In an earlier post, I began analyzing the marriage between Homer & Marge Simpson, one of America’s most enduring fictional TV couples. As mentioned then,  analyzing the stability of any relationship can be done via application of the Investment Model,1 which states that commitment between partners derives from three sources: (1) satisfaction, (2) dependence (based on perceived alternatives), and (3) investment level.2 Whereas Part 1 of this series focused on Satisfaction, in Part 2 we move on to the second variable: Dependence.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar142011

Ronnie & Sam on the Jersey Shore: Will They Ever Stop Fighting?  

Sammie came back to the house, swore that she and Ron were over, they got drunk and ended up back together…for about a day before they started fighting again. This may be the least surprising series of developments on Jersey Shore, well aside from Snooki getting arrested for public drunkenness. The roommates knew this was coming and that there was going to be a big fight. Paulie even remarked how he was going to get some popcorn, sit on the couch and watch the upcoming “movie” of the inevitable Ron and Sammie fight. Everyone thought the chain of events was obvious, yet Ron and Sammie tried to work it out.  

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar142011

"Do You Pursue Love or Does It Pursue You?"

Amy asked “do you pursue love or does it pursue you? Do you think that people are in one of these two categories or is it ever changing in our lives?”

Dear Amy,

Great question; this is essentially getting at what researchers call “implicit theories of relationships.”1 What’s important is what you believe about relationships and love, not necessarily that there’s a one-size-fits-all prescription for relationships.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar132011

Rose-Colored Glasses and Relationship Satisfaction

Research by Dr. Sandra Murray and colleagues, appearing in Psychological Science (April 2011), indicates that those who idealize their partners don't show a decline in satisfaction during their first three years of marriage. Click here for the Scientific American podcast about this work and here for the writeup on businessweek.com. 

Friday
Mar112011

Marriage Satisfaction: Is It Now the "3-year-glitch"?

Recently, there has been an explosion of news stories about that seem to suggest that in today’s fast-paced world couples are getting sick of each other even faster. Namely the 7-year-itch is now a “3-year-glitch.” Interestingly, the study was funded by Warner Bros. and timed to be released with the movie Hall Pass.

Click to read more ...

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.

Click to read more ...

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.

Click to read more ...

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.

Click to read more ...

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?

Click to read more ...

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.

Click to read more ...

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.

Click to read more ...

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!  

Click to read more ...