Kevin Lewis

October 30, 2014

Marrying Ain't Hard When You Got A Union Card? Labor Union Membership and First Marriage

Daniel Schneider & Adam Reich
Social Problems, November 2014, Pages 625-643

Over the past five decades, marriage has changed dramatically, as young people began marrying later or never getting married at all. Scholars have shown how this decline is less a result of changing cultural definitions of marriage, and more a result of men's changing access to social and economic prerequisites for marriage. Specifically, men's current economic standing and men's future economic security have been shown to affect their marriageability. Traditionally, labor unions provided economic standing and security to male workers. Yet during the same period that marriage has declined among young people, membership in labor unions has declined precipitously, particularly for men. In this article, we examine the relationship between union membership and first marriage and discuss the possible mechanisms by which union membership might lead to first marriage. We draw on longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-79 to estimate discrete time event-history models of first marriage entry and find that, controlling for many factors, union membership is positively and significantly associated with marriage. We show then that this relationship is largely explained by the increased income, regularity and stability of employment, and fringe benefits that come with union membership.


Sperm Competition in Humans: Mate Guarding Behavior Negatively Correlates with Ejaculate Quality

Samantha Leivers, Gillian Rhodes & Leigh Simmons
PLoS ONE, September 2014

In species where females mate with multiple males, the sperm from these males must compete to fertilise available ova. Sexual selection from sperm competition is expected to favor opposing adaptations in males that function either in the avoidance of sperm competition (by guarding females from rival males) or in the engagement in sperm competition (by increased expenditure on the ejaculate). The extent to which males may adjust the relative use of these opposing tactics has been relatively neglected. Where males can successfully avoid sperm competition from rivals, one might expect a decrease in their expenditure on tactics for the engagement in sperm competition and vice versa. In this study, we examine the relationship between mate guarding and ejaculate quality using humans as an empirical model. We found that men who performed fewer mate guarding behaviors produced higher quality ejaculates, having a greater concentration of sperm, a higher percentage of motile sperm and sperm that swam faster and less erratically. These effects were found independent of lifestyle factors or factors related to male quality. Our findings suggest that male expenditure on mate guarding and on the ejaculate may represent alternative routes to paternity assurance in humans.


'A Diamond is Forever' and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration

Andrew Francis & Hugo Mialon
Emory University Working Paper, September 2014

In this paper, we evaluate the association between wedding spending and marriage duration using data from a survey of over 3,000 ever-married persons in the United States. Controlling for a number of demographic and relationship characteristics, we find evidence that marriage duration is inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony.


Debt, Cohabitation, and Marriage in Young Adulthood

Fenaba Addo
Demography, October 2014, Pages 1677-1701

Despite growing evidence that debt influences pivotal life events in early and young adulthood, the role of debt in the familial lives of young adults has received relatively little attention. Using data from the NLSY 1997 cohort (N = 6,749) and a discrete-time competing risks hazard model framework, I test whether the transition to first union is influenced by a young adult's credit card and education loan debt above and beyond traditional educational and labor market characteristics. I find that credit card debt is positively associated with cohabitation for men and women, and that women with education loan debt are more likely than women without such debt to delay marriage and transition into cohabitation. Single life may be difficult to afford, but marital life is unaffordable as well. Cohabitation presents an alternative to single life, but not necessarily a marital substitute for these young adults.


The Long Reach of One's Spouse: Spouses' Personality Influences Occupational Success

Brittany Solomon & Joshua Jackson
Psychological Science, forthcoming

You marry your spouse "for better, for worse" and "for richer, for poorer," but does your choice of partner make you richer or poorer? It is unknown whether people's dispositional characteristics can seep into their spouses' workplace. Using a representative, longitudinal sample of married individuals (N = 4,544), we examined whether Big Five personality traits of participants' spouses related to three measures of participants' occupational success: job satisfaction, income, and likelihood of being promoted. For both male and female participants, partner conscientiousness predicted future job satisfaction, income, and likelihood of promotion, even after accounting for participants' conscientiousness. These associations occurred because more conscientious partners perform more household tasks, exhibit more pragmatic behaviors that their spouses are likely to emulate, and promote a more satisfying home life, enabling their spouses to focus more on work. These results demonstrate that the dispositional characteristics of the person one marries influence important aspects of one's professional life.


Stalking and Psychosocial Distress Following the Termination of an Abusive Dating Relationship: A Prospective Analysis

Katie Edwards & Christine Gidycz
Violence Against Women, November 2014, Pages 1383-1397

The purpose of the current study was to utilize a prospective methodology to better understand the extent to which women report stalking behaviors perpetrated by their abusive ex-partners and how these stalking experiences affect women's psychological adjustment. Participants included 56 college women who completed measures of partner abuse and psychological adjustment prior to and after terminating an abusive dating relationship. A little over half of the women (51.8%) reported some type of stalking victimization following the termination of the abusive relationship. After controlling for baseline levels of psychological distress and partner abuse variables, experiences of post-relationship stalking victimization predicted greater levels of posttraumatic stress symptomatology and interpersonal sensitivity, whereas post-relationship stalking victimization was unrelated to depression and personal empowerment.


Thin slices of infidelity: Determining whether observers can pick out cheaters from a video clip interaction and what tips them off

Nathaniel Lambert, Seth Mulder & Frank Fincham
Personal Relationships, forthcoming

The viability of using brief observations of behavior (thin slicing) to identify infidelity in romantic relationships was examined. Two studies supported the hypothesis that observers can accuratelsy identify people who are cheating on their romantic dating partner based on thin slices of observed behavior. In Study 1, raters were able to accurately identify people who were cheating on their romantic dating partner after viewing a short 3- to 4-min video of the couple interacting. Study 2 replicated this finding and identified possible variables that may mediate the relation between coder's ratings and participants' actual reported infidelity. Commitment and trustworthiness were found to be mediators of this relation. These results are discussed in terms of application and future research.


Concordant and discordant alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use as predictors of marital dissolution

Kenneth Leonard, Philip Smith & Gregory Homish
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, September 2014, Pages 780-789

This study examined concordant and discrepant alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use among couples to determine whether they predicted marital separation or divorce over 9 years. The study recruited 634 couples as they applied for their marriage licenses; we assessed them at that time and reassessed them with mailed questionnaires at their first, second, fourth, seventh, and ninth wedding anniversaries. Approximately 60% of the men and women were European American, and approximately 33% were African American. The frequency of drinking to intoxication and binge drinking (more than 5 drinks in an occasion) was assessed, as was the use of cigarettes and marijuana. At each assessment, each member of the couple was asked about the occurrence of marital separations and divorce. Bivariate analyses indicated that tobacco and marijuana use, whether discrepant or concordant, were associated with marital disruptions. However, discrepant heavy drinking was associated with disruptions, but concordant heavy drinking was not. Concordant and discordant marijuana use were not associated with divorce when analyses controlled for alcohol and tobacco use. Concordant and discordant tobacco use was not associated with divorce when analyses controlled for sociodemographic and personality factors. However, discrepant alcohol use was related to divorce after controlling for the other substances in 1 analysis and after controlling for the sociodemographic factors in a separate analysis. Tobacco and marijuana use were related to divorce through their associations with other variables. However, results suggest that discrepant alcohol use may lead to marital disruptions and should be addressed with couples seeking marital treatment.


Do women perform fellatio as a mate retention behavior?

Yael Sela et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, January 2015, Pages 61-66

Men who report performing more mate retention behaviors, in general, and more benefit-provisioning mate retention behaviors, in particular, also report greater interest in, and spend more time, performing oral sex on their female partner. We extended these findings to a female sample to investigate whether women's oral sex behaviors are related to their mate retention behaviors. We secured self-report data from 410 women residing in the United States or in Germany in a committed, sexual, heterosexual relationship. The results indicate that women who report performing more benefit-provisioning mate retention behaviors also report greater interest in, and spend more time, performing oral sex on their partner. Further, there are no sex differences in the magnitudes or directions of these relationships. The results suggest that both men and women are more interested in, and spend more time, performing oral sex on their partner as part of a benefit-provisioning strategy to increase their partner's relationship satisfaction. We address limitations of this research, and discuss explanations for the results.


Holding on to What Might Have Been May Loosen (or Tighten) the Ties that Bind Us: A Counterfactual Potency Analysis of Previous Dating Alternatives

John Petrocelli et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, January 2015, Pages 50-59

Existing research shows that people who have good current alternatives to their romantic partner are less committed to the relationship. The present research indicates that relationship committment also depends on perceptions of high quality forgone alternatives. The current research investigates the role of counterfactual potency (i.e., perceived likelihood of a mentally simulated alternative to reality) concerning potential dating partners from the past. Data from three studies revealed that as the perceived potency of a past romantic alternative increased, regret associated with forgone dating alternatives increased and commitment to the current partner decreased. Regret associated with forgone alternatives mediated the relationship between counterfactual potency and commitment. However, the link between counterfactual potency and commitment was further moderated by investment size; among the highly invested, as the perceived potency of a past romantic alternative increased, commitment to the current partner increased. Results are discussed in light of the investment model of relationship commitment.


Knowing Who You Are and Adding to It: Reduced Self-Concept Clarity Predicts Reduced Self-Expansion

Lydia Emery, Courtney Walsh & Erica Slotter
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

People are generally motivated to increase the diversity of their self-concepts, within their relationships and outside of them. Self-expansion enhances both individual and relationship well-being; however, almost no research has investigated what circumstances attenuate people's desire for self-expansion. The present research addressed this question by testing the central hypothesis that experiencing lower self-concept clarity would predict less interest in self-expansion. Across three studies, the present research demonstrated that individuals primed with low self-concept clarity expressed less interest in self-expansion outside of romantic relationships (Studies 1-2) and were less likely to actually self-expand by incorporating attributes from a potential romantic partner into the self (Study 3). Despite the benefits of self-expansion, certain situations may reduce people's desire to add content to the self.


Can You Tell That I'm in a Relationship? Attachment and Relationship Visibility on Facebook

Lydia Emery et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, November 2014, Pages 1466-1479

People often attempt to shape others' perceptions of them, but the role of romantic relationships in this process is unknown. The present set of studies investigates relationship visibility, the centrality of relationships in the self-images that people convey to others. We propose that attachment underlies relationship visibility and test this hypothesis across three studies in the context of Facebook. Avoidant individuals showed low desire for relationship visibility, whereas anxious individuals reported high desired visibility (Studies 1 and 2); however, similar motives drove both groups' actual relationship visibility (Study 1). Moreover, both avoidant individuals and their partners were less likely to make their relationships visible (Studies 1 and 3). On a daily basis, when people felt more insecure about their partner's feelings, they tended to make their relationships visible (Study 3). These studies highlight the role of relationships in how people portray themselves to others.


from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.