Findings

Two of a Kind

Kevin Lewis

June 05, 2012

Human origins and the transition from promiscuity to pair-bonding

Sergey Gavrilets
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
A crucial step in recent theories of human origins is the emergence of strong pair-bonding between males and females accompanied by a dramatic reduction in the male-to-male conflict over mating and an increased investment in offspring. How such a transition from promiscuity to pair-bonding could be achieved is puzzling. Many species would, indeed, be much better off evolutionarily if the effort spent on male competition over mating was redirected to increasing female fertility or survivorship of offspring. Males, however, are locked in a "social dilemma," where shifting one's effort from "appropriation" to "production" would give an advantage to free-riding competitors and therefore, should not happen. Here, I first consider simple models for four prominent scenarios of the human transition to pair-bonding: communal care, mate guarding, food for mating, and mate provisioning. I show that the transition is not feasible under biologically relevant conditions in any of these models. Then, I show that the transition can happen if one accounts for male heterogeneity, assortative pair formation, and evolution of female choice and faithfulness. This process is started when low-ranked males begin using an alternative strategy of female provisioning. At the end, except for the top-ranked individuals, males invest exclusively in provisioning females who have evolved very high fidelity to their mates. My results point to the crucial importance of female choice and emphasize the need for incorporating between-individual variation in theoretical and empirical studies of social dilemmas and behaviors.

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The role of dissonance, social comparison, and marital status in thinking about divorce

Daniel Stalder
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, May 2012, Pages 302-323

Abstract:
Using a cognitive dissonance framework, this research tried to identify predictors of openness toward divorce and trivialization of wedding vows. Using single undergraduates, Study 1 showed that those reminded of traditional (divorce-inconsistent) wedding vows reported less openness toward divorce than those not reminded (possibly indicative of dissonance-induced attitude change). Study 1 also showed that those who received social-comparison (divorce-rate) information were more likely to trivialize the vows than those who did not receive such information. Study 2 showed that marital status moderated these two primary effects: married individuals showed a stronger vow-reminder effect than divorced individuals, and divorced individuals showed a stronger social-comparison effect. Study 2 also demonstrated pluralistic ignorance in that participants took divorce more seriously than they thought "other people" did. Other results, implications, and counseling applications are discussed.

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What's (Not) Wrong With Low-Income Marriages

Thomas Trail & Benjamin Karney
Journal of Marriage and Family, June 2012, Pages 413-427

Abstract:
In the United States, low marriage rates and high divorce rates among the poor have led policymakers to target this group for skills- and values-based interventions. The current research evaluated the assumptions underlying these interventions; specifically, the authors examined whether low-income respondents held less traditional values toward marriage, had unrealistic standards for marriage, and had more problems managing relational problems than higher income respondents. They assessed these issues in a stratified random sample that oversampled low-income and non-White populations (N = 6,012). The results demonstrated that, relative to higher income respondents, low-income respondents held more traditional values toward marriage, had similar romantic standards for marriage, and experienced similar skills-based relationship problems. Low-income groups had higher economic standards for marriage and experienced more problems related to economic and social issues (e.g., money, drinking/drug use) than did higher income respondents. Thus, efforts to save low-income marriages should directly confront the economic and social realities these couples face.

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Divorce Rates and Bankruptcy Exemption Levels in the United States

Jeffrey Traczynski
Journal of Law and Economics, August 2011, Pages 751-779

Abstract:
Although increasing bankruptcy exemption levels protects consumers from negative asset shocks, an unintended consequence of this policy that remains unexplored is the effect on divorce rates. This effect arises from reducing the benefits of marital risk sharing. I establish conditions under which increases in exemption levels lead to more divorce and investigate using data from Vital Statistics of the United States. I estimate that increases in exemption levels occurring between 1989 and 2005 resulted in more than 200,000 additional divorces during this period and that the effect on divorce rates in 2005 is comparable in magnitude to that found for the introduction of unilateral divorce laws by Wolfers.

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Does the "Marriage Benefit" Extend to Same-Sex Union?: Evidence From a Sample of Married Lesbian Couples in Massachusetts

Jamie Ducharme & Marilou Kollar
Journal of Homosexuality, April 2012, Pages 580-591

Abstract:
This study investigated the relationship between wellbeing and marital quality in a married lesbian sample from Massachusetts. Two hundred twenty five (225) participants responded to this mailed survey study. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS), and the World Health Organization Quality of Life-Brief Instrument (WHOQOL-Bref). DAS scores were a strong predictor of reported wellbeing in all quality of life domains including physical, psychological, and financial wellbeing. Results support the finding in the heterosexual marriage literature that healthy marriage is associated with distinct wellbeing benefits for lesbian couples. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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Marriage, gender and obesity in later life

Sven Wilson
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
A large body of literature argues that marriage promotes health and increases longevity. But do these benefits extend to maintaining a healthy body weight, as the economic theory of health investment suggests they should? They do not. Using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), I find that entry into marriage among both men and women aged 51-70 is associated with weight gain and exit from marriage with weight loss. I evaluate three additional theories with respect to the cross-sectional and longitudinal variation in the data. First, it may be that a broader set of shared risk factors (such as social obligations regarding meals) raises body mass for married couples. However, the shared risk factor model predicts that the intra-couple correlation should increase with respect to marital duration. Instead, it declines. Second, scholars have recently promoted a "crisis" model of marriage in which marital transitions, not marital status, determine differences in body mass. The crisis model is consistent with short term effects seen for divorce, but not for the persistent weight gains associated with marriage or the persistent weight loss following widowhood. And transition models, in general, cannot explain significant cross-sectional differences across marital states in a population that is no longer experiencing many transitions, nor can it account for the prominent gender differences (in late middle-age, the heaviest group is unmarried women and the lightest are unmarried men). Third, I argue that pressures of the marriage market, in combination with gendered differences regarding partner BMI, can account for all the longitudinal and cross-sectional patterns found in the data.

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The effects of 9/11 on intermarriage between natives and immigrants to the U.S.

Chunbei Wang & Le Wang
Review of Economics of the Household, June 2012, Pages 171-192

Abstract:
The existing literature generally finds a negative impact of the 9/11 tragedy on immigrants' labor market performance, consistent with increased discrimination in the labor market and stricter immigration policies. In this paper, we examine the impact of this tragic event on a particular measure of immigrants' social outcomes - marriage with a native or intermarriage. We find that the tragic event actually increases Hispanic immigrants' probability of being married to a native. We suggest that our results could be explained by that after 9/11, the deteriorated labor market conditions, along with tightened immigration policies, may have led to increased incentives of immigrants to marry natives. This effect is large relative to the potential discrimination effect, if any, that could reduce natives' willingness to marry an immigrant. We also find that the magnitude of the effect is much smaller in the years immediately following 9/11 and becomes larger over time; and that there exists a large, statistically significant gender difference in the effects of 9/11 on intermarriage outcomes. Finally, we conduct indirect tests of proposed explanations; and our results imply existence of economic gains from intermarriage, and that discrimination may indeed exist.

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Latinos' Perceptions of Interethnic Couples

Amber Garcia et al.
Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, May 2012, Pages 349-362

Abstract:
Numerous survey findings indicate that the majority of White Americans are accepting of interracial romantic relationships. However, relatively few studies have looked at how different American ethnic minority groups view such relationships. The current research examined Latinos' evaluations of intraethnic and interethnic couples. Latino participants (N = 207) read information about either a Latina-Latino, Latina-White, or Latina-Black romantic couple. The results indicate that the Latina-Black couple was evaluated less positively than the Latina-White couple on relationship quality and less positively than the other two couples on perceptions of social support. Latino men were especially likely to express negative emotions toward the Latina-Black couple compared with Latina women. The results are discussed in the context of intergroup relationships.

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Relationship Quality in Marital and Cohabiting Unions Across Europe

Kenneth Aarskaug Wiik, Renske Keizer & Trude Lappegård
Journal of Marriage and Family, June 2012, Pages 389-398

Abstract:
In this study, the authors used data from the first wave of the Generations and Gender Survey to investigate relationship quality among currently married and cohabiting individuals ages 18 to 55 (N = 41,760) in 8 European countries (Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Romania, Russia, and The Netherlands). They expected to find fewer differences between cohabitation and marriage in countries where cohabitation is widespread. Controlling for a range of selection characteristics of respondents and their partners (e.g., common children, union duration, and education), the analyses showed that in all countries cohabiters more often had breakup plans and were less satisfied with their relationships than individuals who married. This cohabitation gap in relationship quality was largest in Russia, Romania, and Germany, which indeed were among the countries in the current sample where cohabitation was least prevalent.

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The different effects of "living together": Determining and comparing types of cohabiting couples

Brian Willoughby, Jason Carroll & Dean Busby
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, May 2012, Pages 397-419

Abstract:
Utilizing a sample of 1365 never-married cohabiting couples, we developed a typology of premarital cohabitation. Latent class analysis was used to create a five-class model of cohabiting couples who were then compared to engaged and non-engaged non-cohabiting couples on measures of interpersonal dynamics and relational outcomes. Results suggested that being in different types of cohabiting relationships was associated with different risks and benefits in terms of relational outcomes. Engaged cohabiting couples who have an agreed trajectory toward marriage appear to do as well, or better, than other types of couples. Cohabiting couples who are not utilizing cohabitation as a current pathway toward marriage appeared very similar to non-cohabiting dating couples. It was also found that couples with ambiguity regarding their perceived movement toward marriage were at risk for negative relationship outcomes compared to other couple types.

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The Association Between Marital Status and Psychological Well-being in Norway

Anne Reneflot & Svenn-Erik Mamelund
European Sociological Review, June 2012, Pages 355-365

Abstract:
This study uses a Norwegian nationally representative survey to examine whether cohabitants exhibit lower levels of psychological well-being than their married counterparts in a context where cohabitation is claimed to be largely indistinguishable from marriage. Six indicators of mental health are considered, and all adult ages and marital statuses are included. Overall partnered living (married or cohabiting) is associated with higher psychological well-being than being single. Single living subsequent to a divorce is experienced as particularly negative. Nevertheless, when compared with married people, cohabitants who have never married and divorced cohabitants are more likely to report a problem with alcohol, and this also holds for those who have dependent children. In addition, divorced cohabitants are more likely to report a history of depression than the married.

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Do the Married Really Live Longer? The Role of Cohabitation and Socioeconomic Status

Sven Drefahl
Journal of Marriage and Family, June 2012, Pages 462-475

Abstract:
Numerous studies have shown that married women and men experience the lowest mortality. Legal marital status, however, does not necessarily reflect today's social reality because individuals are classified as never married, widowed, or divorced even when they are living with a partner. Denmark is one of the forerunners of developments in coresidential partnerships and one of only a few countries where administrative sources provide individual-level information on cohabitation for the whole population. Using register information from Statistics Denmark on 3,888,072 men and women ages 18-65, the author investigated mortality differences by living arrangement with hazard regression models. Overall, premature mortality was found to be lowest for married persons, followed by cohabiting persons. Adjusting for socioeconomic status reduced excess mortality of nonmarried individuals. Moreover, a mortality-crossover effect emerged in which cohabiters with above-average socioeconomic status had a lower risk of dying than married people. This finding was particularly pronounced for men.

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Meta-analysis of marital dissolution and mortality: Reevaluating the intersection of gender and age

Eran Shor et al.
Social Science & Medicine, July 2012, Pages 46-59

Abstract:
The study of marital dissolution (i.e. divorce and separation) and mortality has long been a major topic of interest for social scientists. We conducted meta-analyses and meta-regressions on 625 mortality risk estimates from 104 studies, published between 1955 and 2011, covering 24 countries, and providing data on more than 600 million persons. The mean hazard ratio (HR) for mortality in our meta-analysis was 1.30 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.23-1.37) among HRs adjusted for age and additional covariates. The mean HR was higher for men (HR, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.27-1.49) than for women (HR, 1.22; 95% CI: 1.13-1.32), but the difference between men and women decreases as the mean age increases. Other significant moderators of HR magnitude included sample size; being from Western Europe, Israel, the United Kingdom and former Commonwealth nations; and statistical adjustment for general health status.

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The Fewer the Merrier?: Assessing Stigma Surrounding Consensually Non-monogamous Romantic Relationships

Terri Conley et al.
Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the context of recent debates about same-sex marriage, consensually nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships have recently begun making their way into media discussions. In the current research, we investigated whether stigma is attached to these nonnormative romantic relationships and, conversely, whether halo effects surround monogamous relationships. In Study 1 we analyzed open-ended responses to the question "what are the benefits of monogamy?". The most commonly mentioned benefits included the promotion of commitment and health (especially the prevention of sexually transmitted infections [STIs]). In Study 2, descriptions of CNM relationships were strongly stigmatized and a substantial halo effect surrounded monogamous relationships. Specifically, monogamous relationships were rated more positively than CNM relationships on every dimension (both relationship-relevant and arbitrary relationship-irrelevant factors) that we examined and across diverse social groups, including CNM individuals themselves. In Study 3, we conducted a person perception study in which participants provided their impressions of a monogamous or a CNM relationship. The monogamous couple was rated overwhelmingly more favorably than the CNM relationship. Finally, in Study 4, we replicated the findings with a set of traits that were generated with regard to relationships in general (rather than monogamous relationships, specifically) and with a broader set of arbitrary traits. Across all studies, the results consistently demonstrated stigma surrounding CNM and a halo effect surrounding monogamy. Implications for future research examining similarities and differences between monogamous and CNM relationships are discussed.

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The Role of Pre- and Postconception Relationships for First-Time Parents

Heather Rackin & Christina Gibson-Davis
Journal of Marriage and Family, June 2012, Pages 526-539

Abstract:
Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, a nationally representative cohort of young adults, the authors analyzed relationship type at the time of a first birth (N = 4,044). More than 10% of births were to a postconception cohabiting household (cohabitations that were initiated between conception and birth), a higher proportion of births than those born to postconception married households. Individuals in postconception and preconception cohabiting relationships (cohabitations that existed prior to conception) were demographically similar; both groups were associated with lower levels of socioeconomic advantage relative to those in preconception and postconception marriage. Postconception and preconception cohabiting relationships were associated with similar levels of dissolution, as 40% dissolved within 3 years of a child's birth. Having a marital union, rather than whether relationship was established pre- or postconception, was more strongly associated with who selected into the relationship and how long the relationship lasted.

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The soothing effects of forgiveness on victims' and perpetrators' blood pressure

Peggy Hannon et al.
Personal Relationships, June 2012, Pages 279-289

Abstract:
A laboratory experiment tested whether conciliatory behavior predicts lower blood pressure following spouses' discussion of a recent marital transgression. Sixty-eight married couples discussed unresolved transgressions - with random assignment determining whether the husband or the wife was in the victim role - and then rated victim and perpetrator conciliatory behavior (with the former akin to forgiveness and the latter akin to amends) while watching a videotape of their just-completed discussion. Participants' blood pressure was measured 40 min later. Actor-partner interdependence modeling analyses revealed that victim conciliatory behavior during the discussion predicted not only lower victim blood pressure but also lower perpetrator blood pressure after the discussion. Perpetrator conciliatory behavior during the discussion was not associated with victim or perpetrator blood pressure.

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The Latin American Cohabitation Boom, 1970-2007

Albert Esteve, Ron Lesthaeghe & Antonio López-Gay
Population and Development Review, March 2012, Pages 55-81

Abstract:
The article describes the rise of unmarried cohabitation in Latin American countries during the last 30 years of the twentieth century, both at the national and regional levels. It documents that this major increase occurred in regions with and without traditional forms of cohabitation alike. In addition, the striking degree of catching up of cohabitation among the better-educated population segments is illustrated. The connections between these trends and economic (periods of high inflation) and cultural (reduction of stigmas in ethical domains) factors are discussed. The conclusion is that the periods of inflation and hyperinflation may have been general catalysts, but no clear indications of correlation were found between such economic factors and the rise in cohabitation. The shift toward more tolerance for hitherto stigmatized forms of conduct (e.g., homosexuality, euthanasia, abortion, single-parent household) is in line with the rise of cohabitation in regions of Argentina, Chile, and Brazil where cohabitation used to be uncommon. Further rises in cohabitation during the first decade of the twenty-first century are expected in a number of countries (e.g., Mexico) despite conditions of much lower inflation.

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Not That There's Anything Wrong with That: The Effect of Personalized Appeals on Marriage Equality Campaigns

Brian Harrison & Melissa Michelson
Political Behavior, June 2012, Pages 325-344

Abstract:
An increasingly predominant strategy used by organizations seeking to increase support for gay marriage is to personalize the issue by focusing on individuals in the LGBT community. However, competing theoretical traditions (e.g., Allport's contact theory, group threat, implicit bias) raise questions about whether this strategy has the desired effect. This paper presents results from an original field experiment conducted in coordination with a marriage equality organization. Callers who self-identified as a member of the LGBT community were less effective in soliciting donations compared to callers who did not self-identify, suggesting that personalization has a negative effect on persuasion efforts. The findings cut against the grain of the Allport (The nature of prejudice, 1954) hypothesis and have important implications for social advocacy organizations in terms of rhetorical and message strategy.

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Autonomic arousal and relational aggression in heterosexual dating couples

Dianna Murray-Close, Ashley Holland & Glenn Roisman
Personal Relationships, June 2012, Pages 203-218

Abstract:
This study investigated the association between romantic relational aggression and autonomic nervous system (ANS) arousal in the context of heterosexual dating couples (N = 115 couples). Results indicated that romantic relational aggression was associated with low resting sympathetic arousal, high resting parasympathetic arousal, and exaggerated fight or flight responses to a conflict discussion (sympathetic activation and parasympathetic withdrawal). However, ANS activity was more strongly associated with romantic relational aggression in the context of low-quality romantic relationships, and sympathetic activity was more strongly associated with aggression among females, whereas parasympathetic activity was more strongly associated with aggression among males. Results indicate that psychophysiological functioning may serve as a risk factor for the perpetration of relational aggression against romantic partners.


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