Category: Relationships

Our partner’s level of education can have a positive impact on our own health

By Emily Reynolds

There are many factors that impact our health, from our finances to our emotions to the way we work. Education is one such factor, with research suggesting that higher levels of education can lead to better health and even a longer life. But what about the education of your partner?

This is the subject of a new study from an Indiana University team, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour. The researchers find that people’s own health is positively associated with their spouse’s level of education, suggesting that education and other factors such as knowledge, skills and finances can be seen as shared resources.

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People in on-again, off-again relationships experience more psychological distress

By Emily Reynolds

Some romantic relationships slot into place easily: we meet, we get together, and we stay together, at least for a while. Others are far more tumultuous, as we break up and get back together over and over again — often to the frustration and annoyance of those we confide in.

It’s no surprise that such relationships can cause us distress, and this is the subject of a new study, published in Family Relations. It looks at the impact of on-off relationships, finding not only short-term harm but longer-term implications too.

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People who apologise a lot are seen as more warm and sincere

By Emma Young

We all know a chronic apologiser (maybe you are one). So begins a fascinating new paper that explores how we judge frequent vs rare apologisers — and how this affects the way that we react to their apologies.

An abundance of work has shown that an apology for bad behaviour makes a big difference to the recipient. “Indeed, some scholars even imbue apologies with transformative and miraculous healing qualities,” note Karina Schumann at the University of Pittsburgh and colleagues in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. However, most research in this field has explored the impact of apologies in isolation. This takes no account of a person’s general tendency to apologise. But as we all know, some people apologise readily and frequently, while others don’t.

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People who move a lot attach more importance to their romantic relationships

By Emily Reynolds

Moving house can have significant psychological effects — and not just because it’s stressful. Moving can create long-lasting memories, good and bad, while moving frequently is associated with lower academic achievement and poorer physical and mental health among children. 

It’s this second experience — moving frequently — that a new study, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, explores. Looking at “residential mobility” in the context of romantic relationships, the team finds that those who have moved away from their place of birth or who have frequently moved throughout their life are more likely to see their partners as central to their lives.

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Experiencing A Natural Disaster Can Bring Couples Closer — But Only For A While

By Emma Young

If you have a partner, how do you think your relationship would fare in the face of a natural disaster? Do you think it would bring you closer — or might the stresses make your relationship worse?

Various studies have explored this, and their conclusions have been mixed. But virtually all have been hampered by a lack of key data: measures of relationship satisfaction actually taken before a disaster (rather than later recalled), to compare with measures of satisfaction afterwards. A new paper in Psychological Science now plugs this gap. Hannah Williamson at the University of Texas at Austin and colleagues report a remarkable study of 231 couples living in Harris County, Texas, using data collected before and after Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the region in August 2017.

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Study Explores Personalities Of People With Adult Separation Anxiety, A “Neglected Clinical Syndrome”

By Emma Young

Most parents will be very familiar with the concept of separation anxiety. It’s hardly rare for babies and toddlers to become anxious when separated from a parent. But I have to confess, I hadn’t heard of Adult Separation Anxiety (ASA) until I came across this new paper in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. For adults, it can manifest as extreme distress at being separated from a partner, or another loved one — even a pet. And it’s thought that 7% of people suffer from it at some point in their lifetimes.

Partly because ASA has been so neglected by researchers, Megan Finsaas at Columbia University and Daniel Klein at Stony Brook University set out to better understand it — and specifically, to explore links with aspects of personality.

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Domestic Violence Increased During Lockdown In The United States

By Emily Reynolds

From the very beginning of the pandemic, activists and charities raised concerns that lockdown could be having an impact on domestic violence. Women’s Aid noted that home is often an unsafe environment for those experiencing abuse, while earlier this year Refuge stated that they’d seen a 60% increase in monthly calls to their National Domestic Abuse helpline.

A new study, published in Psychology of Violence, looks at rates of intimate partner violence during the pandemic in the United States. Like data from the UK, it suggests that domestic violence increased during lockdown — and that this was particularly linked to stress.

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During Lockdown, Couples Were Happier When They Blamed The Pandemic For Their Stress

By Emily Reynolds

During the pandemic, many of us were locked down with little face-to-face contact with anybody other than our partners. Considering the stress of the time and the intensely close quarters we were in, you would be forgiven for thinking this was a recipe for serious tension.

A new study, however, suggests the reality might not be so cut and dry. Writing in Social Psychological and Personality Science, a team led by Lisa A. Neff from The University of Texas at Austin found that the pandemic actually played an important part in people’s ability to deal with stress. When couples blamed their levels of stress on the pandemic, the team found, they were happier in their relationship.

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