On the cover of his recent book, Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari is pictured standing against a white background, with hearts over his eyes, looking down solemnly at his cell phone. The image evokes some confusion (he appears to be searching for something and doesn’t appear very happy). It seems Ansari has set out to clarify things; his book aims to tackle many important questions that young adults have in the dating world of 2015. What makes a person attractive? Can people really find love through a website or a phone app? Are people only interested in sex these days? How does dating in America compare to dating in Europe, Asia, or South America? And what’s the secret to a happy relationship? Ansari is attempting to capture the essence of close relationships in our era and to address the existential crises that many millennials feel as they try to navigate their lives and make the right decisions. Ansari is a powerful voice for my generation – one that speaks with confidence, clarity, and creativity. He is a comedian, a writer, and an actor – he’s starred in some very popular TV shows and movies, and is a prolific stand-up comic. But Ansari stands out from his colleagues in that his book strives for scientific accuracy. He’s not just looking to make people laugh, he’s looking to educate them and to shine a light on some mystifying social phenomena. In writing this book, Ansari teamed up with renowned sociologist Eric Klinenberg and consulted with several high-profile psychologists including Barry Schwartz, Helen Fisher, Eli Finkel, Sheena Iyengar, and others.
Entries in technology (28)
American teens spend a lot of time with their smartphones, and their interest in their phones may only be superseded by their interest in forming romantic relationships. Anytime you have two really important aspects of life intersecting, there is the potential for some really interesting data. Researchers at the Pew Research Center wanted to learn how teens use technology in their romantic relationships to meet, flirt and communicate.1 To get some answers, in late 2014 and early 2015 researchers conducted a national survey as well as several online and in-person focus groups of 1,060 American teens (aged 13-17).
Although the common assumption is that this technology has changed how teens deal with their romantic relationships. Let’s see what the data say…
People showcase much of their public (and private!) lives via social media outlets - especially Facebook. It should come as no surprise then that couples’ Facebook behavior has attracted the attention of relationships researchers in recent years. Here at ScienceOfRelationships.com we’ve covered many aspects of how partners behave on Facebook, including things such as how couples present themselves publicly on Facebook (including the increasingly common “relfie”), partners’ Facebook “stalking” and jealousy, and what happens when partners have to manage their breakups on Facebook. Another very common topic of conversation among Facebook users involves the match (or lack thereof) between people’s real life experiences and what we see on those very same people’s Facebook profiles - a topic that a short film that went viral in 2014 echoed.
Most young adults use some form of social network, and among those platforms, Facebook is one of the most popular with nearly 1.4 billion monthly users and approximately 890 million users who login each day.1 And while many aspects of people’s lives play out on Facebook, their relationships are a particularly central part of their profiles.2 And although Facebook can be used to display new or happy3 relationships, people have to manage the end of their relationships on Facebook as well.
We’ve written a lot about avoidant attachment (see here and here for more on attachment), but here’s a quick summary: Those who are high in avoidance tend to be uncomfortable with intimacy, want less closeness in their relationships, and distrust others more. And when it comes to electronic communication with partners, it turns out that avoidance also is related texting and sexting behaviors, but in different ways.
SAGE has released a new edition of the Relationship Matters podcast (hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College). Dr. Stephen Rains (University of Arizona) was interviewed regarding his research on how too many superficial disclosures can hurt a friendship. In case you’re wondering, superficial disclosures refer to small, irrelevant details about what’s going on in one’s daily life.
The research team (including Steven Brunner and Kyle Oman, also of the University of Arizona) asked 199 adults to provide a record of all communications they had with specific friends over a 1-week period; the key is that each communication ‘episode’ had to involve some form of technology (e.g., text, e-mail, Facebook, twitter). Participants then reported how much they liked each friend with whom they interacted and also indicated how willing they would be to support each friend in times of need.
The holidays are a time of great happiness, joy and cheer…or so we are told. As a matter of fact, if you look to the media, (i.e., print, film or radio) you will be inundated with a spectacular accompaniment of both visual and auditory stimulation designed to remind you that the holidays are filled with happiness. If this is not enough for you, you need not look any further than social media. Facebook further offers you the opportunity to witness a glorious display of familial fanfare, marital bliss, friendship follies with mistletoe and kisses at every click of a page. With the advent of social media, we often place significant attention on the public portrayal of happiness. This is especially true as we seek to create hallmark moments of perfection during the holiday that we can post and share with our friends. Sounds absolutely spectacular doesn’t it? Yet, how much of this is reality?
Expensive smartphones are more desirable to men who are single and seeking a hook up, according to researchers from Germany.1
When the iPhone 6 hit the market last month, it made headline news. That’s not unusual, as every iteration of Apple’s popular smartphone has fanboys lining up around the block. But not even the casual consumer has been deterred by the rumor that the iPhone 6 Plus is so slim and streamlined that, after 30 minutes stuffed in the pocket of your skinny jeans, it comes out bent as a boomerang. In fact, despite ‘bendgate’, the new iPhone is hot and expected to sell up to 80 million units in 2014 alone.2 Clearly, everybody wants one. But new research suggests that some men are more keen than others to fork out the cash for a high status smartphone.
With the pervasiveness of social media and mobile devices comes the potential to communicate with hundreds or thousands of people with just a few taps or clicks. Of course, we are connected to lots of different types of people, including family, friends, coworkers, and random people you have a faint recollection of from high school who friended you on Facebook. We also have very different reasons for communicating with particular people in our social circles. New research1 suggests that one motivation for communicating on Facebook (and other social media sites) is to keep some of our connections on the “back burner” as potential future romantic partners.
If you’re not currently in a romantic relationship, it makes sense that you may think of some people in your social network as romantic possibilities. However, do people who are currently in exclusive romantic relationships also keep potential mates on the back burner?
You’re probably wondering what a “relfie” is, so let’s start there. A relfie (you heard it here first!) is a “relationship selfie,” or when you take a selfie that includes a relationship partner or someone else you are close to (like a parent and child). Relfies are those pictures that people take when they turn their cameras on themselves to show off their relationships that are then posted on social networking sites like Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.
On Facebook, there are lots of ways to let your social network know that you are in a relationship, including posting relfies, changing your relationship status to say that you “are in a relationship with…”, and mentioning your partner in status updates. Facebook lets people control what others see about their relationships, thus allowing “friends” the ability to gather information and form impressions about others’ relationships.
When I was young, family vacations involved long road trips, my Walkman, 3 cassette tapes (usually Michael Jackson, Eddie Grant, and early U2 in heavy rotation), and the alphabet game. In many ways, these trips resembled the classic National Lampoon’s Vacation, which may explain why the movie has always been a favorite of mine. Fortunately, my family never had to drive across the country with a dead grandmother on the car roof, but I always empathized with Rusty and Audrey’s unrelenting boredom on their ride from Chicago to Wally World in LA.
My partner, The Consultant, has a teenage daughter who has recently been the target of bullying at her middle school. For many, the term “bullying” immediately conjures up images of teenagers spreading rumors about each other or stealing young children’s lunch money. Indeed, even www.stopbullying.org defines bullying as “unwanted and aggressive acts exhibited by school-aged children.” However, during my conversations with her about how mean teenage girls can be, I hated to inform her that bullying continues well into adulthood.
There are a number of apps out there that are designed to help people find, keep, and cultivate their relationships. Given our expertise in relationship science, we’ve taken to reviewing these apps from time to time to determine the extent to which they reflect and/or make use of relationship science (see our previous post reviewing apps here). Our latest review is for the brand-new app called Brownie Points (also on Facebook here).
What the App Does: Brownie Points allows couple members (i.e., users) to track and assign “brownie” points to tasks that partners can later exchange for rewards. For example, suppose Kate wants William to change their new baby’s diapers. William wants to be able to sleep in on the weekends and have the occasional night out with his buddies. Together, Kate and William negotiate how many points William receives for changing diapers as well as how many points it ‘costs’ to be able to sleep in on the weekend or have a night out. Once William has enough points he can exchange them for extra sleep or an opportunity to go our drinking with his brother Harry.
The folks at Listverse.com recently posted "10 Ways Technology Is Ruining Your Love Life," which includes some interesting tidbits of relationship research (and some other stuff posing as research).
Because imitation is the highest form of flattery, we borrowed their idea. We present to you 10 of our posts on topics related to the items in their list:
- I’m Watching You on Facebook: Attachment and Partner Surveillance
- Does the Green Eyed Monster have a Facebook Profile?
- Master of Mythical Warfare...But Maybe Not of Marriage
- (Dis)connecting People
- Breaking Up is Easy to Do…If You Have a Smartphone
- Evidence to Support a Valid Online Dating Matching Algorithm: My Wish List
- If You’re In A Relationship, Is It OK To Browse Hookup Sites For “Innocent Flirting” And “Harmless” Fun?
- Is Pornography to Blame For the High Divorce Rate?
- So Many Fish in the (Online) Sea: Is All This Choice a Good Thing?
- See our other articles on relationships and technology here.
The key to decoding your relationship’s future could be sitting in your pocket right now. It’s not your wallet, or those breath mints, or that crumpled lottery ticket. It’s your cell phone.
Similar to how a runny nose and sore throat can quickly let us know we have a cold, the right kind of information about our romantic relationships can tell us a lot about their future potential. For example, researchers know that a couple’s level of love, commitment, and “positive illusions” are powerful predictors of future relationship success (see my last article here), whereas the number of fights couples have and their respective personality traits are surprisingly less important (see more here.). I call these “predictive elements” -- i.e., the punchy details that psychologists use to predict the quality or future outcome of relationships (basically, whether or not a couple will live happily ever after). Although we cannot rely on these elements to foresee the precise outcome of any particular relationship, it is safe to think of them as useful clues. Predictive elements are like the weather report from a station you trust. If they say there’s a 90% chance of rain, then you should probably pack an umbrella.
I met my first boyfriend in a Sailor Moon chat room. For the uninitiated, Sailor Moon was a Japanese anime show that was “popular” in the late 1990s. My online alter ego, a character I named Hiko Aino (Japanese for “fire child of love”), was tall, graceful, and witty—everything that I, at the time, was decidedly not. After a few weeks of frequenting the chat room, I started a relationship with a guy whose online persona was a dog (yes, a dog, as in a canine…oh, the shame is endless). It’s probably worth mentioning I was thirteen at the time and wildly unpopular at school (given what I just shared, I can’t imagine why). But the chat room allowed me to reinvent myself, connect with others with similar interests, and—in short—escape the sad reality of middle school. And although the Sailor Moon chat room is probably long gone, other virtual worlds have sprung up in its wake. One such environment is the online community named Second Life.
John Mayer is apparently a trend-setter among celebrities. The singer/guitarist reportedly dumped Katy Perry by email and Jennifer Aniston with a text message (recommendation: if you are dating John Mayer, hide his iPhone). And Taylor Swift is said to have been the recipient of a break up voicemail (although not from Mr. Mayer). Is this form of calling it quits isolated to just our friends in the entertainment industry or is it common among the rest of us?
Have you ever been dumped over email? Would you text a (soon-to-be-former) partner to let them know it was over? heyyy we r over bye. Technology provides many options for communicating a desire to break up while allowing us to avoid the awkwardness of dumping someone face-to-face. But how often do people use technology to break up, and are some people more likely to do it than others (or be the recipient of it)?
If You’re In A Relationship, Is It OK To Browse Hookup Sites For “Innocent Flirting” And “Harmless” Fun?
BC submitted the following question:
Have you written much on gay hookup apps (Grindr, Scruff, etc)? I just had a lengthy discussion with my cousin on Facebook after posting my criticism of Dan Savage's latest Savage Love. In it, Savage wrote that a gay man can have a hookup app on his phone while in an exclusive relationship and just use it for chatting with friends and innocent flirting. Why would someone be active on a hookup app and, if confronted with a hot guy to hookup with, not actually hook up with them?
This is a great question! Although I am not aware of any studies specifically examining how use of hookup applications impacts people’s relationships, there is plenty of research to suggest that bringing these applications into a monogamous relationship could potentially lead to trouble down the road. Thus, I don’t fully agree with Savage’s take that engaging in such behavior is completely innocent.
Cell phones have revolutionized the ways we stay in touch. However, do our mobile phones affect our relationships, even when we’re not using them? Findings from two new studies suggest they do. Pairs of strangers discussed assigned topics in the presence or absence of a phone. Specifically, these “stranger-pairs” sat in a room with either a nondescript mobile phone or an old-fashioned pocket notebook placed unobtrusively on a desk to the side. The simple presence of a phone (vs. notepad) resulted in lower levels of closeness and relationship quality after their discussion. Further, when specifically asked to talk about a meaningful topic, the presence of a mobile phone also resulted in lower levels of trust and empathy. It’s possible that cell phones act as a reminder of people’s wider social networks, and the anticipation of a possible interruption (your best friend complaining about yet another awful blind date?) draws attention away from face-to-face conversations.
Przybylski, A. K. & Weinstein, N. (in press, 2012). Can you connect with me now? How the presence of mobile communication technology influences face-to-face conversation quality. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. doi: 10.1177/0265407512453827