Entries in attitudes (4)


The Red-Blue Divide: Politics in Your Relationships

image source: washingtonpost.com

Throughout the United States, talk of current events and the upcoming Presidential election seems more rampant than Pokemon Go players moving about. The political climate can feel more heated than a scorching August afternoon. Many Americans are divided along political lines. In fact, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, more people embracing strongly polarized political beliefs report fear of or anger toward those with opposing views than ever before (since this question has first been scientifically polled in 1992).¹  Similarly, polarized political differences in opinion between members of a romantic relationship exist. If you are someone who feels strongly about your political viewpoints, imagine what it might be like to have a partner with opposite political opinions during this heated time. How much does this divide matter, and what are people’s ideal preferences for choosing a romantic partner when it comes to political ideology?

Does love trump the divide?

Perhaps there will soon be more scientific data on this topic in the future, particularly as it relates to the 2016 election. In the meantime, however, we can gain insight into the role of politics in relationships this question by looking at recent data looking at how strongly political attitudes and beliefs impact idealized partner selection. In 2014, Pew conducted a telephone survey about political polarization, calling over ten thousand randomly selected US adults and asking them to endorse statements that matched their political beliefs.

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Can a Romantic Partner Help Improve Attitudes Toward Members of a Different Race? Relationship Matters Podcast 33

In the 33rd installment of SAGE’s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Keith Welker (Wayne State University) discusses how romantic partners can help increase feelings of compassion and understanding toward those with different racial backgrounds.

The research extends on other studies using a fast friends procedure, a technique that leads people to disclose a lot of personal (but appropriate) information in a short period of time.  The procedure is quite effective at increasing understanding between people and increasing opportunity for friendship after the brief encounter.

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Under the Covers: Sexual Attitudes, Fertility, and Romantic Relationships

The average woman will have 500 menstrual cycles throughout her lifetime.1 Although menstruation typically doesn’t win the “favorite days of the month award,” the actual purpose of a woman’s cycle is to prepare her body for conception and procreation. Yet, the irony in Mother Nature’s plan is that the actual window of potential conception only lasts for roughly 2-4 days throughout the 28 day cycle. Among researchers, we call these few days the “period of high fertility,” or the time when women are most likely to conceive.

Many women (and probably even some men!) may have noticed that the days leading up to menstruation can be accompanied by mood swings (you’ve heard of PMS – right?). Yet, there’s a bundle of evidence showing that women’s moods, behaviors, and interpersonal styles actually change during that small window of high fertility as well. For example, during those few days (compared to other days in the cycle) women are more likely to dress sexy,2 they are more accepting of men’s advances,3 they prefer the scent of symmetrical4 and dominant men,5 and they’re even more likely to fantasize about someone other than their current boyfriend or spouse!6

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Liberal or Conservative? Obey Your Mom and Dad

Political scientists often wonder what makes someone liberal versus conservative. Fortunately, there are several well-studied clues to predicting individuals’ political attitudes. For example, disgust sensitivity, which refers to how easily you are repulsed by gross things, increases the likelihood that you call yourself a conservative and vote for conservative politicians.1 How do the researchers explain this effect? The emotion of disgust may have evolved in part to help humans avoid poisonous or diseased substances (that’s why dog crap smells so foul to us) and we also generally associate immoral behavior with feeling disgusted. When people feel disgusted, they also express harsher, condemning attitudes toward social behaviors they feel are immoral (like incest). Conservatives, who happen to be more easily disgusted in general, also have more critical perspectives on stigmatized social behaviors (like same-sex sexual contact).

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