Entries in disapproval (4)


Questioning The Romeo And Juliet Effect: Is Parental Interference Good Or Bad For A Relationship?

(Reposted from The Psychology of Human Sexuality)

 In 1972, a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology announced scientific support for the so-called “Romeo and Juliet effect." The basic idea was that the more parents try to interfere in a couple’s relationship, the stronger that relationship becomes--just like in Shakespeare's classic story. Given both the sexy name and intuitive appeal of this idea, it is perhaps not surprising to learn that this effect has been cited hundreds of times in academic journals and textbooks. In recent years, however, several scientists (myself included) have grown skeptical of this idea because it just doesn’t seem to fit with what the broader literature on social approval and relationships has reported.

For instance, I published a series of three studies over the last decade showing that when one’s family and friends do not accept or approve of one’s relationship, the health of the partners and the quality of the relationship tends to suffer. Specifically, when people perceive that their romantic relationship is marginalized, not only do they report worse physical and psychological health [1] and less commitment to their relationship [2], but they also have an increased likelihood of breaking up in the next year [3] (see here for a more detailed summary of some of this research). In light of these results, one might reasonably predict the opposite of the Romeo and Juliet effect: when parents don’t approve of a relationship and try to interfere, that relationship is more likely to deteriorate rather than flourish.

But if this is the case, how do we explain the findings of the 1972 study?

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Interracial Marriage Has Reached An All-Time High, But Attitudes Toward It Are Still Evolving

The Pew Research Center recently reported that the rate of interracial marriage has reached an all-time high in the United States,1 with 8.4% of all marriages being between members of different races. If we look only at new marriages (i.e., couples who were married in the three years before these data were collected), the proportion that is interracial nearly doubles to 15%. For comparison purposes, the number was just 3.2% in 1980! Thus, interracial marriage has seen marked growth in the past three decades. Despite these changes, a large number of Americans still seem to have a problem with interracial couples, and this bias has negative effects on the people who are in these relationships.

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What to Do When Your Friends Date Jerks

We love our friends and we want the best for them. But what do we do when our friends are dating losers, jerks, Charlie Sheen, or just someone who is not good enough for them? Do we try to affect the ultimate outcome of the relationship, or do we support them regardless of their poor choices? After all, if people in relationships regularly don rose-colored glasses, don’t we have an obligation to help them see clearly?

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The 51-Year-Old Who Married The 16-Year-Old: Can Relationships With Large Age-Gaps Work?

There was big news last week when 51-year-old actor Doug Hutchison, a former star of television’s Lost, married 16-year-old Courtney Alexis Stodden, an aspiring country music artist. In case math isn’t your strong suit, that’s a 35 year age difference. And yes, you did read that correctly: she’s only 16.

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