Entries in jspr (8)


Some Things You Know You Have Before They’re Gone

A wise man (with amazing hair) once crooned “don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. The statement’s intended interpretation is that we often take for granted the positive characteristics of our romantic partners up until the moment the relationship is lost.

But is it possible that there are some things we do know we have before we’ve lost them, and that we go out of our way to hang on tight? In a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Joshua Oltmanns, Patrick Markey, and Juliana French hypothesized just that. Specifically, they argued that people in relationships are especially in tune how their own physical attractiveness stacks up relative to their partner.1 And when an individual perceives their partner is the relatively more attractive one, they will do things, subtly and not so subtly, to keep their hotter partner all to themselves.

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Dating Your Boss May Be Bad For Your Career

Getting romantically involved with a coworker is not uncommon; it’s estimated that nearly 10 million workplace romances start each year, and about half of all white-collar workers have been involved in a workplace romance at some point during their careers.1 Among these workplace romances, nearly a third involve relationships between an employee and a coworker with higher status in the organization.1 Although these status differences may result in problematic power dynamics within the relationship, it’s also reasonable to assume dating one’s boss leads to more career opportunities (e.g., benefits of favoritism). At the same time, however, people with knowledge of the workplace tryst might think less favorably of those who become romantically involved with their bosses, resenting them for appearing to use that relationship to advance their careers.

Across two studies1 published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Suzanne Chan-Serafin and her colleagues investigated the effects of subordinate-boss workplace relationships on individuals’ career development. The researchers hypothesized that those who are romantically-involved with a superior at work would receive fewer opportunities for training and promotion by third-party evaluators.

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Attachment in the Virtual World

Did you have a Tamagotchi as a child, or have you played a similar game where you had to take care of a pet or person (e.g., Nintendogs)? Did you invest a lot of time taking care of it? I know I did. I also had pretty positive feelings towards my Tamagotchi and Nintendog (a cute corgi). Interestingly, it’s possible that how I felt towards my virtual pets related to how I felt towards others in the non-virtual world.1 While reading a recent, currently free to access, issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, I learned that there’s a computer program that you can play to try your hand at being a parent. The child is born and ages like a non-virtual child, but does so at a rapid rate. The choices that you make for it are irreversible. Researchers wanted to know if people’s feelings towards a “virtual child” were related to comfort with getting close to others in real life.

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Making Sense of a Breakup

The way people tell stories about their relationships says a lot about them and their relationships. For example, the pronouns that people use when telling their stories can reveal their relationship’s stability: People who are more committed tend to talk about “us,” whereas people who are less committed tend to talk about “me” (see here for more).1 People who write about important events in their relationships and end the story positively (e.g., “We went through a rough patch, but now we’re stronger than ever!”) have better mental health, less depression, greater relationship satisfaction, feel closer to their partners, and are less likely to experience a breakup within 1 year than people who end their story negatively (e.g., “We went through a rough patch and things are still a bit shaky”).

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Single and (Not?) Lonely: How Socially Connected are Married versus Single People?

When it comes to building communities of interconnected friends and family, how does marital status influence the links between people? Who interacts more with their neighbors, friends, and family-- married people or their single counterparts?

Singles are often stereotyped as lonely, sitting at home by themselves (or maybe with a few cats). In contrast, marriage is often thought of as the foundation of our communities, functioning as a sort of social glue. However, for married people, husbands or wives may have to balance giving time to their partners at the expense of spending time with other social connections. Singles, on the other hand, have time to socialize with their friends and families, and therefore may be more connected. So, which is it? 

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Negative Consequences of Emotional Suppression: Relationship Matters Podcast 46

In SAGE’s newest edition of the Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Stephania Balzarotti (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Italy) discusses the consequences associated with frequently holding back, or suppressing, communication of emotions within marriage. 

The work, carried out with Patrizia Velotti (University Genoa, Italy), Semira Tagliabue (Catholic University), Giulio Zavattini (University of Rome, Italy), and Tammy English and James Gross (both of Stanford University), tracked 299 newlywed couples for two years, once in the first 6 months of their marriages and then again about 18 months later. The couple members independently provided information about how often they withhold expressing their emotions from their partners and indicated how satisfied they were in their marriage.

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Stress and Resolving Disagreements Immediately: Relationship Matters Podcast 42

In this first installment of the Winter/Spring 2015 season of SAGE's “Relationship Matters” podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College), Dr. Kira Birditt (University of Michigan) discusses how resolving disagreements (or not) affects individuals’ daily stress hormone production.

Briefly, cortisol -- popularly referred to as the “stress hormone” -- helps regulate our daily sleep-wake cycles and also helps us react appropriately to stressful situations. When the cortisol system is functioning optimally, the hormone peaks about thirty minutes after waking time (to help us become alert for the day) and then generally falls throughout the day, culminating at its lowest point before bedtime. Chronically elevated daily levels of cortisol are generally associated with negative health outcomes. 

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Opting Out of Parenthood: How Couples Navigate the Decision to Not Have Children

You likely heard this song at some point in your childhood (though likely with different names, depending on who was being teased that day): “John and Jane sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage.” These types of songs reflect the social pressure couples experience as their relationships develop. Even if society doesn’t assume that babies naturally come after marriage, a couple’s family members may drop some not-so-subtle hints about their desire for a new baby in the family. For many, getting married, starting a family, and having children isn’t a choice, but rather the default option, or more simply put, “just what people do”1 But what about couples who make the conscious decision to not have children? Given the various pressures and expectations that conspire to encourage procreation, opting out of parenthood is a big decision for relationship partners to make.  

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