Entries in decision making (16)

Monday
Feb202017

Too Macho for the Middle? Why Guys Don’t Compromise

Imagine you and your romantic partner are purchasing a new car together. You both prioritize safety and fuel efficiency, and you’ve identified 3 cars that you mutually like. The first car is extremely fuel-efficient. The second has superior safety ratings. And the third car is in the middle – it scores reasonably on both factors. Which are you most likely to buy – the car that dominates in one desirable category or the middle-of-the-road option?

A recent study1 indicates that your choice of car (and other things) likely depends on whether one of the decision makers in the couple is female.  

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb192015

Sharing A Room Before Sharing Vows? What You Should Know Before Cohabiting

Last August, exactly two years after my partner and I met, we got engaged. But unlike most soon-to-be newlyweds, we have not yet lived together. In fact, we will be engaged for almost a year before moving into our own place. 

A few of my friends were surprised that my fiancé and I could commit to a life together without first sharing an apartment. In their eyes, cohabitation is important for allowing dating couples to “test drive” being married and identify lifestyle incompatibilities before making a formal long-term commitment. My grandparents and parents, on the other hand, were unfazed that we hadn’t yet lived together, and they even encouraged us to wait until the timing was right.

These conflicting messages made me question whether living together as a dating couple makes for a more well-adjusted marriage if the relationship is headed that way. Most researchers agree that living together before getting engaged has potential advantages and drawbacks, but are certain approaches to cohabiting better than others? To answer this question – and to understand why my friends (but not the older generations) expected my partner and I to live together sooner – I examined the latest research on cohabitation and its consequences for relationships.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec192014

This Holiday Season, Get Your Romantic Partner Exactly What He or She Wants

As the gift giving swings into full gear, the pressure is on to find that perfect gift for your significant other. But what sort of present will best communicate your affections? Should you scour the mall (or internet) in search of new gift-giving inspiration? Or should you “stick to the list”, and just give your partner what he or she wished for?

In a study on gift-giving, participants imagined1 either that they were trying to find a present for their romantic partners or that their partners were trying to find a present for them. When participants took the role of the “gift giver”, many believed that they should try to find a gift that was not on their partner’s wish list.  By ignoring the list and finding an alternate present, participants seemed to believe the rogue gift would communicate thoughtfulness and effort. But when participants took the role of the “gift receiver” they were actually more appreciative, and saw their partners as being more thoughtful, when their partners gave them a gift from their wish list rather than an alternative present.  The researchers also found similar effects for non-romantic relationships (e.g., friendships, parents): regardless of how close the gift recipient felt to the gift giver, wished-for gifts were always preferred. This effect held even when there was only one item on the wish list. So it would seem that surprises are over-rated!

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep242014

Rejecting People is Hard to Do: Why People Fail to Turn Down Unwanted Dates

Relationships frequently fall apart due to irreconcilable incompatibilities. Sometimes these incompatibilities are so large that they seem like they should have been obvious from the start (e.g., one person wants children, the other partner doesn’t; one person is deeply religious, the other isn't). Why don’t such dealbreakers prevent relationships from getting off the ground in the first place? Why do people so frequently wind up with incompatible romantic partners?

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun162014

Should You Break-Up with Your Partner? Think Like a Freak

In their latest book, Think Like a Freak, economist Steven Levitt and his Freakonomics friend and co-author, Stephen Dubner, urge readers to think about the world differently by training readers’ brains to approach problems in unique ways. For example, they suggest readers avoid focusing on the big picture and instead focus on the smaller, more manageable (and more changeable) elements of a problem. They also encourage adopting a greater willingness to simply say, “I don’t know,” and share their thoughts about how to persuade those who don’t want to be persuaded (hint: don’t be a jerk, and you should tell stories). 

In the final chapter, “The Upside of Quitting,” Levitt and Dubner suggest that, contrary to what many people have told you in life, you should quit. That is, when things get tough, you shouldn’t always tough them out and stick with it. Instead, you should quit and do so sooner rather than later.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan132014

The Things You Do for Me: How Your Partner’s Investments Make You More Committed 

Imagine that you get a great job offer, complete with an excellent salary, flexible hours and numerous promotion opportunities. The only problem is that this job offer is in a city far away from where you and your partner currently live. Thus, your partner has to choose whether or not to uproot for you, leaving her or his own job and friends behind and starting over with you in this new city. What would be the consequences of your partner making this choice? In particular, beyond the consequences this would have for your partner, how would you feel about your partner making this sacrifice for you? 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov052013

Should I Stay or Should I Go?: Why Good People Stay in Bad Relationships

It may be hard to believe, but I was once in a relationship for nine years where I was so unhappy, I cried nearly every day. A decade later, with a Ph.D. in Psychology under my belt and an intellectual obsession with how and why humans attach themselves to one another and form relationships, I am finally beginning to understand the mysterious crazy glue that keeps people in bad relationships. It often boils down to commitment level, attachment style, and a strange ability to distort the future. 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jul122013

Who’s (Gonna Be) Your Daddy?: Picking the Perfect Sperm Donor

What do women look for when selecting a sperm donor, and how does it differ from what they desire in a relationship partner? In two studies of women, aged 18-25 and 30-40, respectively, researchers assessed the characteristics women value when selecting males as long-term relationship partners versus selecting males as sperm donors.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar122013

Do Those Who Buy Together Stay Together? Treating Homeownership as a Relationship Decision

My fiance is a mortgage broker, and recently we decided to combine our two passions (mine = relationship research, his = finances) and share some thoughts that might help couples who are thinking of buying a home together. For more information, blogs and videos on finances, visit the Loewen Group website.

Buying your first home? Chances are this is not only a financial decision, but a relationship decision as well.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct122012

After The Rebound… What Next?

Q: How likely is it that a rebound relationship (one where your lover dumps you and then gets with someone else immediately) will last? Also, how likely is it for two people who were once lovers to get back together, particularly after seeing/being with other people?

Thank you for these two interesting questions! I’m going to answer them one at a time.

1. How likely is it that a rebound relationship will last?

That really depends on two factors: the quality of the rebound relationship, and the strength of the rebounder’s attachment to their ex...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct022012

How Thoughtful Are You about Your Relationship Decisions?

There are lots of decisions to make when you’re in a relationship. Some are mundane: what to eat for dinner, which movie to go see, or where to go on vacation. Other decisions are more important for the development of the relationship: when to say I love you, when to have sex, whether to move in together, and whether to have children.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jul142012

Going Steady: How Do People Decide to Make Their Relationships Exclusive?

As someone who is fascinated by all things “decision making-y” in relationships, I was really excited to attend a symposium this morning on how people’s commitment to their relationships can change over time. One talk in particular, by Sara Blanch and colleagues, was about how people make that critical, early relationship choice to agree to be exclusive with their partners.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun212012

Breaking Up with Your Job: Mad Men Demonstrates What Work Relationships and Romantic Relationships Have in Common

In a recent episode of Mad Men, Peggy was seriously thinking about jumping ship from SCDP to another company. In case you’re not completely caught up with the show yet, I won’t tell you want she ended up choosing, but you can see how this could be a very difficult decision for her or for anyone contemplating leaving a job. On the one hand, Peggy likely holds some resentment for her boss and her coworkers, given that she has not always been treated fairly at SCDP; this dissatisfaction may motivate her to look elsewhere. On the other hand, as we know, breaking up is hard to do. What about all of the time and energy that she has put into the company over the years? And what about her loyalty to Don? 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec212011

This Holiday Season, Get Your Romantic Partner Exactly What He or She Wants

As the gift giving swings into full gear, the pressure is on to find that perfect gift for your significant other. But what sort of present will best communicate your affections? Should you scour the mall (or internet) in search of new gift-giving inspiration? Or should you “stick to the list”, and just give your partner what he or she wished for?

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct192011

Love is Abstract, but Sex is Concrete: How Your Mindset Affects Romantic Expectations

What are you doing right now? Are you relaxing? Procrastinating? Gaining knowledge about relationships? Reading words on your computer screen?

You can construe any situation in a number of ways. In particular, you can frame most situations in either an abstract, long-term sort of way, or in a more concrete, immediate way.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun272011

Choose Your Own (Romantic) Adventure: A New Way to Study Relationship Choices

"To continue down the long, well-lit path, turn to page 63. To take a shortcut through the dark alleyway, turn to page 107."

Those of us who were kids in the 1980s and 1990s have fond memories of these interactive, second-person narratives, in which you, the reader, get to choose the protagonist’s fate. But as fun as these stories are, it turns out that they aren’t just for playin’. Researchers have found a way to harness the power of "choose your own adventure" stories to study how people make important decisions about their relationships.

Click to read more ...