Author Interviews, Social Issues / 18.12.2018 Interview with: Alice Verstaen, PhD VA Puget Sound Health Care System What is the background for this study? Response: The study began in the 1980s in Dr. Levenson’s laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley in collaboration with Dr. John Gottman of the University of Washington and Dr. Laura Carstensen at Stanford University. Prior to this study, most research on marriage had focused on younger marriages that ended in separation and divorce. Our study was designed to focus on marriages that had lasted for many years. The idea was that these successful longer-term marriages could provide important clues as to what makes marriages succeed and stay together over time.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Social Issues / 19.08.2018 Interview with: “3-men-laughing” by desthal is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0Menelaos Apostolou  PhD University of Nicosia Cyprus What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: In this study I analyzed 6794 responses from a recent Reddit thread on why men were single, and I classified them in 43 reason categories. Among the most frequent reasons that men indicated for being single included poor flirting skills, low self-confidence, poor looks, shyness, low effort, and bad experience from previous relationships. (more…)
Author Interviews, Social Issues / 05.07.2018 Interview with: Jessica Wood, MSc PhD Candidate, Applied Social Psychology Department of Psychology University of Guelph What is the background for this study? Response: We are at time in history where we expect more from our romantic partners than at any point in our recent past (e.g., love, emotional and financial support, sexual excitement/fulfillment, friendship etc.). This can place pressure on relationships and make it difficult for each person to have their needs fulfilled. Some choose to opt out of of relationships altogether to avoid disappointment, and some even purchase a real sex doll for fulfilment. Another option is consensually non-monogamous (CNM) relationships, where sexual and emotional needs are dispersed among multiple partners, potentially decreasing pressures placed on a primary relationship. However, CNM relationships are stigmatized and often viewed as less stable or satisfying. In our study, we assessed the legitimacy of this perception by comparing relational outcomes among CNM and monogamous individuals. We also examined whether the motives a person reports for engaging in sex was important to how fulfilled a person was in the relationship, and how this was linked to relational outcomes (such as relationship and sexual satisfaction). That is, having sex for more intrinsic/autonomous motives (e.g., pleasure, intimacy, valuing sex) has been associated with higher relationship quality. In contrast, having sex for more extrinsic reasons (e.g., feeling pressured, wanting to manage feelings of guilt or shame), has been linked to lower relational quality. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 07.04.2018 Interview with: Dr. Aideen Maguire Centre of Excellence for Public Health Queen's University Belfast Institute of Clinical Sciences B Royal Hospitals Site, Belfast What is the background for this study?   Response: Consanguineous Marriage is the marriage between second or first cousins. Although not common practice in the Western world approximately 1 in 10 children worldwide are born to consanguineous parents. It is legal in all countries worldwide except the United States of America, North Korea and China. Cousin-marriage is associated with an increased risk of autosomal recessive genetic disorders in offspring but the association between cousin-marriage and the mental health of offspring has not been extensively studied. What are the main findings? Response: Children of consanguineous parents are over 3 times more likley to be in receipt of medications for common mood disorders (antidepressant and/or anxioltyic medication) compared to children of non-related parents and over twice as likley to be in receipt of antipsychotic medication compared to children of non-related parents.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Social Issues / 22.12.2017 Interview with: “Marriage” by sowrirajan s is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr Akanksha Marphatia and co-authors, Dr Alice Reid and Dr Gabriel Amable Cambridge, UK What is the background for this study? Response: Although the total prevalence of girls marrying below the UN prescribed minimum age of 18 years has decreased over time, this is mostly due to a decrease in child marriages, <15 years. Marriages during adolescence, between 16-17 years, have increased. Women marring just after 18 years may also experience some of the consequences of those marrying under-age. These patterns are important to recognise because the predictors and consequences of marriage in these age groups are likely to differ. The aim of our review was to summarise research evidence on why women’s marriage age, independent of early child-bearing, is a major public health issue. In the four South Asian countries of our review, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, marriage precedes reproduction. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Social Issues / 05.04.2017 Interview with: Madeleine A. Fugère, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology Eastern CT State University Willimantic, Connecticut What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous research has shown that both daughters and their parents rate many traits as more important than physical attractiveness in a potential mate (for daughters), including traits such as respectfulness, honesty, and trustworthiness. Previous research also shows that women rate physical attractiveness as more important in a mate for themselves than parents do in a mate for their daughters. In our research project, we experimentally manipulated the physical attractiveness of male targets (using photographs) and we experimentally manipulated the traits associated with each male target. The trait profiles included the “respectful” trait profile which consisted of the traits respectful, honest, and trustworthy, the “friendly” trait profile which included the traits friendly, dependable, and mature, and the “pleasing” trait profile which contained the traits pleasing disposition, ambitious, and intelligent. We found that both women and their mothers were strongly influenced by the physical attractiveness of the men and preferred the attractive and moderately attractive targets. Both women and their mothers rated the attractive and moderately attractive men most favorably, especially when they were paired with the most positive trait profile (the “respectful” trait profile). However, the unattractive man was never rated more positively than his more attractive counterparts even when he possessed the most favorable trait profile. (more…)
Author Interviews, Sexual Health, Social Issues / 21.02.2017 Interview with: Nicholas H. Wolfinger PhD Professor, Department of Family and Consumer Studies Adjunct Professor, Department of Sociology University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0080 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: W. Bradford Wilcox and I have been studying marriage and divorce for fifteen years. Last year we published Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love and Marriage among African Americans and Latinos (Oxford University Press). We’re always looking for opportunities to present our findings to the public, so Valentines Day is a great excuse! It’s probably too strong a statement to call our new research brief a study, as we’re not offering any novel findings. Instead, we’re just compiling data from different sources—some published by other scholars, some based on our own analysis of national data—to reaffirm a basic point: marriage is good for men in myriad ways (Marriage is also good for women, but they await their own research brief.) In particular, marriage offers these benefits to men:
  • Higher earnings, greater assets and more job stability. Married men make about $16,000 a year more than their single peers with otherwise similar backgrounds.
  • Better sex lives compared to both single and cohabiting men. According to data from the National Health and Social Life Survey, 51 percent of married men report they are extremely emotionally satisfied with sex, compared to 39 percent of cohabiting men and 36 percent of single men.
  • Longer and happier lives. Men who get and stay married live almost 10 years longer than their unmarried peers. Also, young married men are about twice as happy: 43 percent of married men report they are “very happy” with life, compared to 20 percent of single men and 24 percent of cohabiting men.
Author Interviews, Psychological Science, Social Issues / 15.02.2017 Interview with: Brian Chin, B.S. PhD Student Doctoral Student Department of Psychology Carnegie Mellon University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Numerous studies demonstrate that married people tend to be healthier than those who are single, divorced, or widowed. However, less clear are the psychological and biological mechanisms through which this occurs. To this end, recent research has focused on how the unmarried may experience either greater amounts of stress or different types of stressful situations that put them at increased risk for morbidity and mortality. Models linking stress and disease often implicate the HPA axis as one pathway through which these stressful experiences can affect health. One way to index HPA axis activity is by measuring cortisol, a hormone that plays a regulatory role for many immunological and metabolic processes in the body. The primary aim of our study was to examine whether cortisol could be one biological mechanism through which marital status impacts health. Over three non-consecutive days, 572 healthy adult participants between 21-55 years old provided multiple saliva samples that were used to measure cortisol. Relative to their never married or previously married counterparts, married people had both lower cortisol outputs and steeper daily declines – both of which have been shown to be associated with better health outcomes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Social Issues, University of Michigan / 08.04.2015

Kira S. Birditt, Ph.D. Research Associate Professor Life Course Development Program The Institute for Social Research University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Interview with: Kira S. Birditt, Ph.D. Research Associate Professor Life Course Development Program The Institute for Social Research University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Birditt: We know that negative marital quality (e.g., conflict, irritation) has important implications for physical health but the mechanisms that account for these links are still unclear. This study explored links between negative marital quality (e.g., criticism, demands), stress (long term chronic stresses) and blood pressure among older married couples in  a large longitudinal nationally representative sample of couples in the U.S..  We found that husbands had higher blood pressure when wives reported greater stress and that this link was even greater when husbands felt more negative about the relationship.  In addition, negative marital quality experienced by only one member of the couple was not associated with blood pressure but when both members of the couple reported higher negative marital quality they had higher blood pressure.  (more…)