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  • Writer's pictureGiulia Zoppolat

Relationship Science Roundup - August 2021

Summer is coming to an end (I know, I know...) and a new academic year is here. Admittedly, it takes my brain a few days to get back into a working mindset after coming back from vacation. One way I like to get my back into working mode and get those research gears turning again is by catching up on some of the new research coming out in my field.

So here are some of the latest relationship science papers I read to get back into the groove (plus one unrelated bonus at the end).

1) Which marriage proposal are more likely to be rejected? Those that come a bit too quickly, when the couple has not really discussed it together before, and those that are made to “save” a relationship that is likely going to end. And proposing in a public space? Not the best idea. See full article here.

2) Sad and single? Two studies from New Zealand and the United States suggests that the old stereotype that single people are unhappy may not be because of their relationship status per se, but more due to how other people treat them. Compared to people in a relationship, single people reported receiving less social support and more discrimination from others. This study builds off of other interesting research on “singlism” that has shown that single people feel stigmatized and pressured by others due to their relationship status. Full article here. Write up in Psychology Today here.

3) Is it possible to predict infidelity? A new machine learning study finds that infidelity is “somewhat predictable”, and people who are more satisfied with their relationship and in love with their partner are, unsurprisingly, less likely to cheat (both in person and online). More than what may predict infidelity, it is interesting to see what things did not predict it. The study did not find a big gender gap in infidelity, and other demographic and individual differences (e.g. attachment style) were generally not associated with infidelity. Overall, it is likely a combination of relationship-specific factors (e.g. relationship satisfaction and duration), rather than single factors, that drive infidelity. Full article here.

4) “How do romantic and sexual experiences contribute to young adults' romantic development?” To answer this question, a team of psychologists conducted 35 in-depth interviews with people between the age of 25 and 40 and asked them about their romantic experiences. Relationships fell into one of four categories: romantic experimenting, committed partnering, hooking up, and casual dating. Participants described these experiences as “providing insight about themselves as individuals, their desired roles in relationships, and their expectations for the future.” For example, earlier experiences were particularly helpful in understanding what being in a relationship can be like and how social norms play into it. Committed relationships were helpful for practicing conflict management and behaviors to help nurture the relationship. Other experiences, including crushes and hook-ups, were important for identifying personal preferences and understanding one’s identity as well as for practicing boundary making. Periods of being single were also important, particularly for self-discovery which was beneficial also in later relationships. Overall, different type of romantic experiences can all provide valuable insight and contribute to people’s romantic and personal development over time, not just long-term committed relationships. I greatly enjoyed reading this paper and the many excerpts from the interviewees included in it. Paper here.

5) Are you more of a mountain person or a beach person? The answer might depend on your personality. These articles aren’t fresh off the press - nor are they about relationships - but I found this work particularly interesting after having returned to the hustle and bustle of the city after a wonderful holiday up in the remote and quiet Dutch islands. Several articles have investigated the link between personality and geographical preference, finding that extraverts prefer the sea and generally spaces that are more open and central while introverts prefer the mountains and generally spaces that are more secluded. This seems to be the case both for people’s choice of where to spend their free time and also where they live. Importantly, people are more satisfied with life when their geographical landscape matches their personality. Articles can be found here, here, and here.

Hope you enjoyed hearing about the latest in relationship science (and other) research! See you next month.

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