Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Are married people happier than unmarried people

17.03.2003


Study involving over 24,000 people finds general life satisfaction affects attitude toward marital happiness

In a large longitudinal study that sheds new light on the association between marital status and happiness, researchers have found that people get a boost in life satisfaction from marriage. But the increase in happiness is very small -- approximately one tenth of one point on an 11-point scale -- and is likely due to initial reactions to marriage and then a return to prior levels of happiness. Data from the 15-year study of over 24,000 individuals living in Germany also indicates that most people who get married and stayed married are more satisfied with their lives than their non-married peers long before the marriage occurred.

The results, published in the March issue of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, highlight how the process of adaptation plays a role in life satisfaction. Although people may initially react strongly to life events, evidence suggests that they eventually return to their normal levels of happiness. Even people who have won huge amounts of money or who have experienced debilitating injuries appear not to greatly differ in life satisfaction from the average person.



Psychologist and study lead author Richard E. Lucas, Ph.D., of Michigan State University says he and his colleagues found that most people were no more satisfied with life after marriage than they were prior to marriage. Widows and widowers were less satisfied with life after the death of their spouse than they were prior to marriage, but even they showed signs of adaptation and most eventually returned close to their initial life satisfaction levels.

An additional and unexpected finding of the study is that the most satisfied people reacted least positively to marriage and most negatively to divorce and widowhood. This finding shows the importance of the total circumstances of their life and not just their personality, according to the researchers.

"An event such as marriage or divorce does not have the same implications for all individuals. A person who is very satisfied with life probably has a rich social network and has less to gain from the companionship of marriage. On the other hand, the person who is lonely and, therefore, somewhat dissatisfied, can gain much by marrying. Similarly, the person who is very satisfied with his or her life because their marriage is wonderful has more to lose if their spouse dies," said the authors, who call this process "hedonic leveling" because it tends to equalize people’s overall happiness levels.

Participants of the study involved people living in Germany who entered the study from 1984 through 1995. The sample consisted of nearly 12,000 residents of West Germany, over 4,000 foreigners living in West Germany, over 5,000 residents of East Germany, and over 3,000 immigrants to West Germany. The participants were asked how satisfied they were with their life in general, using a scale that ranged from 0 (totally unhappy) to 10 (totally happy). Their answers where then compared to their marital status, controlling for yearly changes in overall life satisfaction in Germany due to the fall of the Berlin Wall and other factors.


Article: "Reexaming Adaptation and the Set Point Model of Happiness: Reactions to Changes in Marital Status," Richard E. Lucas, Michigan State University, Andrew E. Clark, Departement et Laboratoire d’Economie Theorique et Appliquee, Yannis Georgellis, Brunel University, and Ed Diener, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 84, No. 3.

Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office or at http://www.apa.org/journals/psp/press_releases/march_2003/psp843527.html

Study authors Richard Lucas, Ph.D., and Ed Diener, Ph.D., are available for media interviews. Dr. Lucas can be reached by phone at 517-432-4360 or by email, lucasri@msu.edu. Dr. Diener can be reached at 217-333-4804 or by email, ediener@s.psych.uiuc.edu.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world’s largest association of psychologists. APA’s membership includes more than 155,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 53 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

Pam Willenz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.apa.org/
http://www.apa.org/journals/psp/press_releases/march_2003/psp843527.html

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Geographers provide new insight into commuter megaregions of the US
01.12.2016 | Dartmouth College

nachricht Sustainable Development Goals lead to lower population growth
30.11.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>