To love and to cherish

Kevin Lewis

January 06, 2013

Changes in women's feelings about their romantic relationships across the ovulatory cycle

Christina Larson et al.
Hormones and Behavior, January 2013, Pages 128-135

According to the dual mating hypothesis, women possess two overlapping suites of mate-choice mechanisms: one leading to preferences for sexually desirable men who have high-fitness genes and one leading to preferences for men who are able to invest in a woman and her children. Evidence increasingly demonstrates that women's preference for sexual desirability (but not investment attractiveness) increases when women are most fertile within the ovulatory cycle. Little is known, however, about the implications of these preference shifts for women's relationships with their long-term partners. Using luteinizing hormone tests to verify ovulation, across two studies (Samples 1 and 2), we found that women whose partners were relatively low in sexual desirability felt less close to their partner (Samples 1 and 2) and were more critical of their partner's faults (Sample 2) on high-fertility days of the cycle just prior to ovulation compared with low-fertility days of the cycle. Women whose partners were relatively high in sexual desirability felt closer to their partner (Sample 1) and more satisfied with their relationship (Sample 2) on high- than low-fertility days of the cycle. There were no such shifts in women's commitment to their relationship. Therefore, partner sexual desirability predicts women's high-fertility assessments of relationship quality but not their intentions to stay in their relationship, consistent with the dual mating hypothesis. These findings suggest that variations across the ovulation cycle in women's reproductive hormones play an important role in relationship dynamics.


Differing Relationship Outcomes When Sex Happens Before, On, or After First Dates

Brian Willoughby, Jason Carroll & Dean Busby
Journal of Sex Research, forthcoming

While recent studies have suggested that the timing of sexual initiation within a couple's romantic relationship has important associations with later relationship success, few studies have examined how such timing is associated with relationship quality among unmarried couples. Using a sample of 10,932 individuals in unmarried, romantic relationships, we examined how four sexual-timing patterns (i.e., having sex prior to dating, initiating sex on the first date or shortly after, having sex after a few weeks of dating, and sexual abstinence) were associated with relationship satisfaction, stability, and communication in dating relationships. Results suggested that waiting to initiate sexual intimacy in unmarried relationships was generally associated with positive outcomes. This effect was strongly moderated by relationship length, with individuals who reported early sexual initiation reporting increasingly lower outcomes in relationships of longer than two years.


Oral sex as infidelity-detection

Michael Pham & Todd Shackelford
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

An evolutionary history of human female infidelity and consequent sperm competition may have caused the evolution of male counter-adaptations. The infidelity-detection hypothesis for oral sex proposes that men perform oral sex to gather information about their partner's recent sexual history. We tested this hypothesis with data secured from 231 men in committed, sexual, heterosexual relationships. We found support for two derivative predictions: men at a greater recurrent risk of sperm competition expressed greater interest in, and spent more time performing, oral sex on their partner, even after controlling statistically for relationship length, relationship satisfaction, and sexual intercourse duration. The discussion addresses limitations of this research and highlights directions for future research, including distinguishing empirically the infidelity-detection hypothesis from alternative hypotheses for oral sex.


Gender and the Neighborhood Location of Mixed-Race Couples

Richard Wright, Steven Holloway & Mark Ellis
Demography, forthcoming

Gender asymmetry in mixed-race heterosexual partnerships and marriages is common. For instance, black men marry or partner with white women at a far higher rate than white men marry or partner with black women. This article asks if such gender asymmetries relate to the racial character of the neighborhoods in which households headed by mixed-race couples live. Gendered power imbalances within households generally play into decisions about where to live or where to move (i.e., men typically benefit more than women), and we find the same in mixed-race couple arrangements and residential attainment. Gender interacts with race to produce a measurable race-by-gender effect. Specifically, we report a positive relationship between the percentage white in a neighborhood and the presence of households headed by mixed-race couples with a white male partner. The opposite holds for households headed by white-blacks and white-Latinos if the female partner is white; they are drawn to predominantly nonwhite neighborhoods. The results have implications for investigations of residential location attainment, neighborhood segregation analysis, and mixed-race studies.


The Risk of Divorce and Household Saving Behavior

Libertad González & Berkay Özcan
Journal of Human Resources, forthcoming

We analyze the causal impact of an increase in the risk of marital dissolution on the saving behavior of married couples. We use the legalization of divorce in Ireland in 1996 as an exogenous shock to the risk of divorce. We propose several comparison groups (unaffected by the law change) that allow us to use a difference-in-differences approach. Our findings suggest that the legalization of divorce led to a significant increase in the propensity to save by married individuals, which is consistent with individuals saving more as a response to the increase in the probability of marital breakup.


Why are Married Men Working So Much? An Aggregate Analysis of Intra-Household Bargaining and Labor Supply

John Knowles
Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming

Are macro-economists mistaken in ignoring bargaining between spouses? This paper argues that models of intra-household allocation could be useful for understanding aggregate labor supply trends in the US since the 1970s. A simple calculation suggests that the standard model without bargaining predicts a 19% decline in married-male labor supply in response to the narrowing of the gender gap in wages since the 1970s. However married-men's paid labor remained stationary over the period from the mid 1970s to the recession of 2001. This paper develops and calibrates to US time-use survey data a model of marital bargaining in which time allocations are determined jointly with equilibrium marriage and divorce rates. The results suggest that bargaining effects raised married men's labor supply by about 2.1 weekly hours over the period, and reduced that of married women by 2.7 hours. Bargaining therefore has a relatively small impact on aggregate labor supply, but is critical for trends in female labor supply. Also, the narrowing of the gender wage gap is found to account for a weekly 1.5 hour increase in aggregate labor supply.


Reframing the Marriage Debate: Wording, Context, and Intensity of Support for Marriage and Civil Unions

Brian McCabe & Jennifer Heerwig
International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Winter 2012, Pages 429-449

In the United States, the extension of marriage or civil unions to gay and lesbian couples has emerged as one of the most highly contested social issues. In response, research and polling organizations have sought to measure attitudes on the topic. In this article, we report the results of an Internet experiment testing for framing and context effects on attitudes towards the legal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships. We report an increase in the odds of respondents strongly expressing their opinion when the experiment utilizes the same-sex or homosexual frames, relative to when the experiment utilizes the gay and lesbian frame. We also report an increase in support for civil unions when asked in context, but not for marriage.


Equality, Morality, and the Impact of Media Framing: Explaining Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage and Civil Unions

Tyler Johnson
Politics & Policy, December 2012, Pages 1053-1080

To date, opposition to same-sex marriage and civil unions has primarily been explained in individual, cross-sectional fashion using demographic and political characteristics as well as other policy attitudes. Such efforts have yet to explain movement in aggregate opinion on this policy debate over time. One factor driving such movement might be evolving information dynamics related to how the media cover same-sex marriage and civil unions. I examine how media framing capturing discussions of equality and morality shapes how the public feels concerning same-sex marriage and civil unions from 2004 to 2011, explaining how media content capturing core values plays a significant role in driving levels of opposition. I find strong evidence that equality framing drives opposition to same-sex marriage and civil unions downward, as does the extent to which equality framing surpasses morality framing in the competition for space on the media's agenda.


Personality disorder symptoms are differentially related to divorce frequency

Krystle Disney, Yana Weinstein & Thomas Oltmanns
Journal of Family Psychology, December 2012, Pages 959-965

Divorce is associated with a multitude of outcomes related to health and well-being. Data from a representative community sample ( N = 1,241) of St. Louis residents (ages 55-64) were used to examine associations between personality pathology and divorce in late midlife. Symptoms of the 10 DSM-IV personality disorders were assessed with the Structured Interview for DSM-IV Personality and the Multisource Assessment of Personality Pathology (both self and informant versions). Multiple regression analyses showed Paranoid and Histrionic personality disorder symptoms to be consistently and positively associated with number of divorces across all three sources of personality assessment. Conversely, Avoidant personality disorder symptoms were negatively associated with number of divorces. The present paper provides new information about the relationship between divorce and personality pathology at a developmental stage that is understudied in both domains.


Housewife, "Gold Miss," and Equal: The Evolution of Educated Women's Role in Asia and the U.S.

Jisoo Hwang
Harvard Working Paper, November 2012

The fraction of U.S. college graduate women who ever marry has increased relative to less educated women since the mid-1970s. In contrast, college graduate women in developed Asian countries have had decreased rates of marriage, so much so that the term "Gold Misses" has been coined to describe them. This paper argues that the interaction of rapid economic growth in Asia combined with the intergenerational transmission of gender attitudes causes the "Gold Miss" phenomenon. Economic growth has increased the supply of college graduate women, but men's preference for their wives' household services has diminished less rapidly and is slowed by women's role in their mothers' generation. Using a dynamic model, I show that a large positive wage shock produces a greater mismatch between educated women and men in the marriage market than would gradual wage growth. I test the implications of the model using three data sets: the Japanese General Social Survey, the American Time Use Survey, and the U.S. Census and American Community Survey. Using the Japanese data, I find a positive relationship between a mother's education (and employment) and her son's gender attitudes. In the U.S., time spent on household chores among Asian women is inversely related to the female labor force participation rate in husband's country of origin. Lastly, college graduate Korean and Japanese women in the U.S. have greater options in the marriage market. They are more likely to marry Americans than Korean and Japanese men do, and this gender gap is larger among the foreign born than the U.S. born.


Marital Status, Duration of Cohabitation, and Psychosocial Well-Being Among Childbearing Women: A Canadian Nationwide Survey

Marcelo Urquia, Patricia O'Campo & Joel Ray
American Journal of Public Health, forthcoming

Objectives: We examined the joint associations of marital status and duration of cohabitation on self-reported intimate partner violence, substance use, and postpartum depression among childbearing women.

Methods: We analyzed data from the 2006-2007 Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey, a cross-sectional nationwide sample of 6421 childbearing women. Cohabiting women were married or nonmarried women living with a partner; noncohabiters were single, divorced, or separated women. We further categorized cohabiters by their duration of cohabitation (≤ 2, 3-5, or > 5 years). We used logistic regression to generate adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.

Results: About 92% of women were cohabiters. Compared with married women living with a husband more than 5 years, unmarried women cohabiting for 2 years or less were at higher odds of intimate partner violence (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 4.64; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.85, 7.56), substance use (AOR = 5.36; 95% CI = 3.06, 9.39), and postpartum depression (AOR = 1.87; 95% CI = 1.25, 2.80); these risk estimates declined with duration of cohabitation.

Conclusions: Research on maternal and child health would benefit from distinguishing between married and unmarried cohabiting women, and their duration of cohabitation.

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