Entries in ethnicity (2)


It’s Not Just About You and Me: How Social Networks Impact Relationships

In this symposium at the 2015 SPSP meeting, four researchers (including Tim Loving and Fred Clavel, who are SofR regulars) presented their work on how romantic relationships are affected by the social networks around them.

Lisa Diamond led things off with a discussion of how same-sex couples feel more stress compared to heterosexual couples, because homosexuality is more stigmatized. In her study, 120 couples (some male-female, some male-male, some female-male) came into the lab and engaged in a task where they discussed a recent conflict they were having. Interestingly, whether same-sex couples felt marginalized by the broader community (i.e. whether they felt accepted by society or not) didn’t seem to predict negativity during this conflict discussion. But if they felt marginalized or having lower status within their spouse’s family (the in-laws) that caused problems within the couple. Not feeling equally accepted within a spouse’s family was associated with more negativity/hostile behavior, greater escalation of conflict (it became intense quickly), and a higher ratio of negative to positive interactions. Dr. Diamond suggested that same-sex couples may feel more distress in their relationship if their close circle of friends/family disapprove of them, rather than if the society at large disapproves of them.

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The Pressure to Be Thin: Males’ Influence on Female Romantic Partner’s Body Satisfaction

We’ve all been known to pack on a few extra pounds over the holidays. Not surprisingly, our weight, as well as our partners’ weights, can influence our romantic relationships. For example, when relationship partners’ weight levels start to diverge and become different from one another, leading to what researchers refer to as mixed-weight couples (think Peter and Lois Griffin from Family Guy or Oprah & Stedman), there can be problems. In fact, recent research1 and a recent article in the Wall Street Journal ("Put a Stop to ‘Do I Look Fat?'") investigate what happens in relationships where one partner, particularly the female, is less fit than the other. According to research published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, relationships that pair an overweight female and a healthy weight male experience more conflict.

(You can hear more about the study in the Relationship Matters podcast here, or read a copy of the full article here.)

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