There are no general laws of human relationships as there are for physics, but a leading marital researcher and group of applied mathematicians have teamed up to create a mathematical model that predicts which couples will divorce with astonishing accuracy. The model holds promise of giving therapists new tools for helping couples overcome patterns of interaction that can send them rushing down the road toward divorce.
Psychologist John Gottman and applied mathematicians James D. Murray and Kristin Swanson will describe how the model was developed and how it enables Gottman to predict with 94 percent accuracy which couples will divorce after viewing just the first few moments of a conversation about an area of martial contention. They will discuss their work today at a press briefing during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle.
"When Newton invented calculus it put science on a mathematical foundation and physics really took off," said Gottman who is a University of Washington emeritus professor of psychology and director of the Relationship Research Institute. "But psychology is a field that has lagged behind in using mathematics and there is no math in social psychology."
Joel Schwarz | EurekAlert!
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