Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

It all adds up: Mathematical model shows which couples will divorce

13.02.2004


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."


Murray, who is an emeritus professor of applied mathematics at the UW and Oxford University, agreed, noting that a lot of people are phobic about mathematics and that psychology has not been exposed to models.

"What we did is extract key elements into a model so that it is interpretive and predictive," Murray said. "The mathematics we came up with is trivial, but the model is astonishingly accurate."

The model was developed using data collected from hundreds of videotaped conversations between couples in Gottman’s laboratory. Physiological data, such as pulse rates also was collected and analyzed. The conversation reflected underlying problems the couple had and that is why the model is so predictive, according to Murray.

"Before this model was developed divorce prediction was not accurate," Gottman added, "and we had no idea how to analyze what we call the masters and disasters of marriage – those long-term happily married and divorced couples."

The key turned out to be quantifying the ratio of positive to negative interactions during the talk. The magic ratio is 5 to 1, and a marriage can be in trouble when it falls below this. The mathematical model charts this interaction into what the researchers call a "Dow-Jones Industrial Average for marital conversation."

"When the masters of marriage are talking about something important, they may be arguing, but they are also laughing and teasing and there are signs of affection because they have made emotional connections," Gottman said. "But a lot of people don’t know how to connect or how to build a sense of humor, and this means a lot of fighting that couples engage in is a failure to make emotional connections. We wouldn’t have known this without the mathematical model.

"It gives us a way to describe a relationship and the forces that are impelling people that we never had before The math is so visual and graphical that it allows us to visualize what happens when two people talk to each other."

It also is allowing researchers to simulate what a couple might do under different circumstances. For example, the model permits them to see what happens if a behavior changes, say a husband allowing himself to be influenced by his wife, and how that increases the number of positive interactions. Ultimately, this will allow therapists to do micro experiments with couples to strengthen their relationships, he believes.

Gottman, Murray and Swanson, who is a UW research assistant professor of pathology and adjunct research assistant professor of applied mathematics, also will participate in an AAAAS symposium on the science of love and marriage that runs from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday.


###
For more information, contact Gottman at (206) 832-0300 or johng@gottmanresearch.com; Murray at (206)-842-3909 or murrayjd@amath.washington.edu; Swanson at (206) 221-6577 or swanson@amath.washington.edu

Joel Schwarz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.washington.edu/

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht A Dream for the Future: “Flying with Green Fuel"
25.07.2018 | Universität Bremen

nachricht Investigating cell membranes: researchers develop a substance mimicking a vital membrane component
25.05.2018 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

Im Focus: World record: Fastest 3-D tomographic images at BESSY II

The quality of materials often depends on the manufacturing process. In casting and welding, for example, the rate at which melts solidify and the resulting microstructure of the alloy is important. With metallic foams as well, it depends on exactly how the foaming process takes place. To understand these processes fully requires fast sensing capability. The fastest 3D tomographic images to date have now been achieved at the BESSY II X-ray source operated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin.

Dr. Francisco Garcia-Moreno and his team have designed a turntable that rotates ultra-stably about its axis at a constant rotational speed. This really depends...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Building up' stretchable electronics to be as multipurpose as your smartphone

14.08.2018 | Information Technology

During HIV infection, antibody can block B cells from fighting pathogens

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

First study on physical properties of giant cancer cells may inform new treatments

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>