Published on June 15, 2007
Stuck on Stereotypes: Stuck on Stereotypes Talk presented to the Institute for the Study of Social Change, Berkeley February 7, 2007 The Perfect Relationship – in Pictures: The Perfect Relationship – in Pictures The Perfect Relationship –in Lyrics: The Perfect Relationship – in Lyrics 'You’re my everything' 'I just want to be your everything' 'There goes my everything' 'How do I live without you? You are my world, my heart, my soul' The contemporary ideal – a version from sociology: The contemporary ideal – a version from sociology The Peer Marriage, from a book by the same name, by Pepper Schwartz: Partners in a peer marriage 'give priority to their relationship over their work and over all other relationships. Their interdependence becomes so deep…they have to be careful not to make their own children feel excluded.' An exemplary couple, according to Peer Marriage: An exemplary couple, according to Peer Marriage Quote from Jerry, of JerryAndDonna: 'I don’t like to do things with other people. We just like being together. We do Siskel and Ebert when we’re at the movies. We do Frugal Gourmet when we cook. We are just our own show.' The 'only danger' Schwartz sees in this: 'the couple’s isolation inhibits their ability to get good advice about their relationship.' Therefore, they should socialize occasionally with 'other like-minded couples.' What I have been describing is the way we currently practice coupling:: What I have been describing is the way we currently practice coupling: INTENSIVE COUPLING Couples attend overwhelmingly to each other. They look to each other for companionship, intimacy, soul-matery, caring, co-parenting, friendship, advice, sharing of household tasks, and just about everything else The couple-relationship is valued above all other peer relationships, and maybe over all other relationships, even across generations Historians see our current practice ofintensive couplingas something quite unusual: Historians see our current practice of intensive coupling as something quite unusual [from John Gillis, A world of their own making] 'Romantic love has never been more valued than it is right now. Romance is not new, but never has it been so exclusively symbolized by the love between just two people. In earlier centuries, it had been possible to imagine love in other ways – in relationships between friends, in bonds with spiritual figures, in various kinds of religious and secular communities' From Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History (2005): From Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History (2005) The triumph of the 'love match' represents 'a break with literally thousands of years of history. Suddenly, couples were supposed to invest more of their emotional energy in each other and in their children than in their natal families, their kin, their friends, and their patrons' 'We are in the middle of a world-historic transformation of marriage and family life' In the midst of this “triumph of the love match” has emerged a very different demographic juggernaut: In the midst of this 'triumph of the love match' has emerged a very different demographic juggernaut Consider two recent headlines from the New York Times: 'It’s Official: To Be Married Means to be Outnumbered' (Oct 15, 2006) '51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse' (Jan 16, 2007) First, though, a definitional interlude…: First, though, a definitional interlude… Who counts as single?: Who counts as single? Legally single – anyone who is not officially, legally married; includes divorced, widowed, and always single Socially single – anyone who is not seriously coupled. (This designation is more slippery. People look for hints as to whether to consider you as seriously coupled: Do you seem to be in an exclusive romantic relationship? How long have you been in it? Do you seem to expect to stay together? Are you living together?) The surge of singles: The surge of singles More than 89 million Americans, 18 or older, are legally single (that is, divorced, widowed, or have always been single) That’s more than 40% of the adult population There are more households comprised of one person living alone, 27%, than of mom, dad, and the kids Americans now spend more years of their adult lives unmarried than married Objections?: Objections? But aren’t a lot of people living together as couples, even if they are not officially married? Yes. 5.4% of all households are comprised of co-habiting couples, including both heterosexual and same-sex couples. (That’s compared to 27% single-person households and 9.8% of households with single parents.) Now here’s the parallel question I’ve never been asked: But aren’t a lot of married people living as if they were, or wish they were, single? Probably, considering the divorce rate. But I don’t know of any relevant statistics. Demographically, the rising tide of singles comes from…: Demographically, the rising tide of singles comes from… People who stay single Increasing age at first marriage Divorce rate that continues to be high A slowing of the rate of remarriage Long life spans, and greater life spans for women than for men; so, most old women are single women Both NY Times stories included statements such as: Both NY Times stories included statements such as 'the potential social and economic implications are profound' and 'the trend could ultimately shape social and workplace policies, including the ways government and employers distribute benefits' But those profound implications were not the topic of the spate of stories that followed: But those profound implications were not the topic of the spate of stories that followed Instead, what just about everyone wanted to know was, Why AREN’T these single women getting married? For example:: For example: David Brooks, 'The Elusive Altar': 'Having seen the wreckage of divorce, they are risk averse, but this risk aversion keeps them trapped in a no man’s land between solitude and marriage' From the Chicago Tribune: 'The current trend away from marriage and toward divorce and/or remaining single has more to do with overcritical women and their excessive expectations than it does with unsuitable men' Then there was the article with this headline:: Then there was the article with this headline: 'Why Are There So Many Single Americans?' First sentence: 'The news that 51 percent of all women live without a spouse might be enough to make you want to invest in cat futures.' Imagine if the trend were instead about an increasing percentage of African Americans and the printed speculation was that the news 'might be enough to make you want to invest in watermelon futures.' Where was this cat quip published? The New York Times Among the profound implications that COULD have been explored: Political ones, such as voting: Among the profound implications that COULD have been explored: Political ones, such as voting Single women are overwhelmingly progressive in their values and their voting But, proportionately fewer single than married people actually vote For a while, during the 2004 Presidential campaign and again in 2006, the topic got some attention, especially from the group 'Women’s Voices, Women Vote' But the “take-singles-seriously” message never does seem to stick: But the 'take-singles-seriously' message never does seem to stick Two days after the 2006 election, Ted Kennedy circulated an e-mail titled, 'What’s next?' Among his answers: 'Here at home, one of our first orders of business will be to give working families in America the raise they deserve by increasing the minimum wage' And, Chuck Schumer’s new book, 'Positively American,' has this subtitle: 'Winning back the middle-class majority one family at a time.' (He follows the make-believe 'Baileys,' a married couple with three kids.) This is happening at a time when married-couple households are in the minority, and when there are fewer households consisting of mom, dad, and the kids than of one person living solo. The marginalizing of people who are single is not just rhetorical: The marginalizing of people who are single is not just rhetorical Singles are targets of legalized discrimination: Singles are targets of legalized discrimination There are 1,138 federal benefits tied directly to marriage Married people can pass on their Social Security benefits to spouses; singles’ benefits go back into the system Married men are paid more than single men, even controlling for performance and seniority. Married people can often put their spouse on an employer-sponsored health care plan; singles often cannot include an adult important to them Many tax breaks favor married people (e.g., estate taxes, capital gains). Also, there is no such thing as a 'marriage penalty.' Solo singles ALWAYS pay more than a married couple making the same amount and filing jointly. There is housing discrimination against single people (experiments by Wendy Morris, Stacey Sinclair, and me) The Less Valued Groups (e.g., singles) Subsidize the More Valued Groups (e.g., married people): The Less Valued Groups (e.g., singles) Subsidize the More Valued Groups (e.g., married people) Subsidies to married people: Wedding showers Wedding gifts Discounts on memberships, insurance policies, meals, travel, etc. for couples subsidized by singles paying full price Singles Are Less Valuable Even in Death: Singles Are Less Valuable Even in Death Value of their dead bodies: Final expenses are covered in part by Social Security, but only if you were married Quality of their afterlife: e.g., Mormons who were married go to the best of the three kingdoms, the Celestial Kingdom, whereas singles go to the Terrestrial Kingdom, for 'honorable heathens and imperfect Mormons' (Newsweek, 2001) Clinging to a MYTHOLOGY OF MARITAL SUPERIORITY: Clinging to a MYTHOLOGY OF MARITAL SUPERIORITY We are glorifying marriage and coupling, and stigmatizing singles, not because we are so secure about the place of marriage in our lives, but because we are so insecure The over-the-top glorifying of romantic coupling is an ill-fated attempt to hold on to an idea that makes us feel safe, and promises to meet all of our needs and make all of our dreams come true It is an ideology, with these premises:: It is an ideology, with these premises: Just about everyone wants to marry, and just about everyone does. Adults who are married are more valuable (worthy, important) than adults who are single. They are also happier, more mature, and less lonely, and their lives are more meaningful and more complete. Married adults are more valuable than single adults because they have the one truly important peer relationship, the relationship between a husband and a wife. Here’s Why I Think This is an Ideology (and a largely uncontested one at that): Here’s Why I Think This is an Ideology (and a largely uncontested one at that) First up. Conceptual home page. 'Habits of mind.' Thinking some other way takes an effort, if it is possible at all. It has no recognized place in our conversations, our research, our texts. Consensual. It is not just couples or families who are dominated by the ideology, but singles, too. It is not just the person on the street who buys into the ideology, but also the intellectual and cultural elite. We have an emotional investment in it. We see it as not just one guide to living our lives but the one guide that is valuable and worthy. We may even see it as the moral way to live. When the ideology is threatened, we may react with defensiveness, hostility, and an urge to cling to the ideology ever more tightly. We may even behave in accord with the ideology when doing so undermines our self-interest. Resistant to facts, resistant to science, resistant to change. One of the most important and consequential way that the marital ideology shapes the science of marriage and singlehood: One of the most important and consequential way that the marital ideology shapes the science of marriage and singlehood Claims that are made about the implications of getting married; for example: Happiness Health Longevity Here is one such claim that has gotten lots of attention, and has been accepted mostly uncritically: Here is one such claim that has gotten lots of attention, and has been accepted mostly uncritically 'If you want to lastingly raise your level of happiness by changing the external circumstances of your life, you should do the following… Get married (a robust effect)' [Getting married was #2 on a list of five external circumstances you could change] --Martin Seligman, Authentic Happiness, p. 61 Some similar claims:: Some similar claims: What sociologist Linda Waite told The New York Times: 'Marriage is good for everyone.' What she told USA Today: 'Marriage improves the health and longevity of men and women.' What Jonathan Rauch said in a New York Times op-ed: 'Social science research has established beyond reasonable doubt that marriage, on average, makes people healthier and happier.' To explain what is wrong with claims about getting married and getting happy, I’ll first review a kind of study that may be more familiar: To explain what is wrong with claims about getting married and getting happy, I’ll first review a kind of study that may be more familiar Hypothetical drug study, new drug called Shamster Shamster is not a drug to remedy an illness; it is meant to increase people’s health and well-being, whether they are sick or not Physicians can offer it to patients; patients decide whether they want to take it The people who were offered the drug end up in 4 different groups: The people who were offered the drug end up in 4 different groups DRUG – these people signed up for Shamster and stayed on the drug for the duration of the study NO DRUG – these people were not interested in taking Shamster, and never did NO DRUG, Intolerable – they signed up for Shamster and took it for a while, but did not like it, and refused to keep taking it NO DRUG, Withdrawn – they signed up for the drug and wanted to keep taking it, but it was withdrawn (maybe supplies ran out in their part of the country; whatever) Shamster participants: Shamster participants 2200 Americans 48 different states They all answered the question: 'Taking all things together, how happy would you say you are these days?' 1 = not at all happy 2 = not too happy 3 = pretty happy 4 = very happy And the results were…: And the results were… Drug 3.3 No drug 3.2 No drug, intolerable 2.9 No drug, withdrawn 2.9 The drug company and the scientists want to celebrate!: The drug company and the scientists want to celebrate! See how wonderful our drug is! People on Shamster are happier than people not on Shamster! If only more people would take Shamster, they would feel so much better! 'If you want to lastingly raise your level of happiness by changing the external circumstances of your life, you should do the following… Take Shamster!' So what’s the problem?: So what’s the problem? The sleazy drug company labeled the people who found Shamster intolerable and the people who had Shamster withdrawn no-drug groups. But they DID take the drug. The sleazy drug company used the lower happiness of the people who could not stand the drug as evidence for the effectiveness of the drug – because the people who did stay on it were happier! What are the real implications of getting on Shamster?: What are the real implications of getting on Shamster? Here’s the mean happiness level of all of the people who ever got Shamstered (whether they stayed that way or not): 3.3 + 2.9 + 2.9 = 3.0 Here’s the mean happiness level of the people who never did take Shamster: 3.2 Just don’t take Shamster?: Just don’t take Shamster? That’s not the right conclusion either The people who never took Shamster were different people than the people who did take Shamster; maybe their happiness had nothing to do with Shamster They got to pick their condition! The Shamster study actually was real – it was about marriage: The Shamster study actually was real – it was about marriage There really were 2200 Americans A nationally representative sample from 48 states They really did answer the same 4-point happiness item I described earlier The means were real I chose it because the authors’ work was cited by Seligman in support of his claim about raising your level of happiness by getting married Importantly, though, the original authors (Gove and Shin) were appropriately cautious about the implications they drew from their data Here are the actual names of the groups: Here are the actual names of the groups Currently married 3.3 Always single 3.2 Divorced 2.9 Widowed 2.9 Suppose you really could randomly assign people to marital statuses and got those results: Suppose you really could randomly assign people to marital statuses and got those results Could you then say that people assigned to marry turned out really happy, and people assigned to stay single turned out miserable? No. Both groups (in fact, all four groups) were on the happy end of the scale. All average happiness levels were closer to 'pretty happy' (= 3) than to any other scale label This is typical, too. If you ever find a study in which marrieds score on one end of the scale and singles on the other, please let me know! ([email protected]) Those means are fairly typical: Those means are fairly typical Meta-analysis of such studies, r = .09 for the difference between currently married and always-single Got married (ever) vs stayed single? That statistic is almost never reported There are dozens of other studies, many of them better than the cross-sectional variety, and I’ll show you the best of them next; but When you hear claims that getting married is the way to get happy (or healthy), often the claims are based on cross-sectional studies with results like these 18-year (and counting) longitudinal study: 18-year (and counting) longitudinal study Rich Lucas and colleagues 30,000 Germans Starting at age 16 Asked to report how satisfied they were with their life in general, by choosing one of 11 points: 0 = totally unhappy 10 = totally happy Slide44: Year of Marriage Some conclusions:: Some conclusions: All three groups were reasonably happy (similar to the cross-sectional study). Mid-point was 5; every group reported a mean score of at least 6.4 every year 'Getting married' didn’t make people happy Even skimming the 'stay-married' off the top, they only get a honeymoon effect and then go back to where they started Slide46: Year of Divorce Slide47: Year of Widowhood Those who stayed single…: Those who stayed single… Started out a bit less happy than those who married and stayed that way, and got a bit less happy over time Compared to those who would marry and then divorce, the always-singles started out a tiny bit happier. The lowest score for the always-singles never dipped as low as the lowest score for those who would divorce or become widowed Something to keep in mind: Something to keep in mind The line for the stay-married has married people’s losses separated out. The stay-marrieds have not yet become widowed, and they do not include the people who married and then divorced The line for those who stayed single includes all who stayed single. Singles who experienced the death of an important person in their life, or a break-up from someone close to them, are all included. Results are similar for health: Results are similar for health See, for example, Rook andamp; Zettel, Psych Inquiry, 2005 Typically, biggest difference is between currently married and previously married, NOT currently married and always-single The transition that probably matters least is the transition into marriage How Can This Be?: How Can This Be? Why do we believe that married people are happier than singles when the data are so weak? And, considering that married people AND singles believe that married people are happier; singles really are the targets of prejudice and discrimination; and single people do not have that one peer relationship that is so valued in our society, then why aren’t singles unhappy? We Are Missing What the Ideology is Hiding: We Are Missing What the Ideology is Hiding The ideology hides or dismisses what singles do have, and what is enriching in their lives. The ideology hides or dismisses what couples and families do not have, and what is risky or oppressive in their lives. What Singles May Have that the Marriage Ideology Hides: What Singles May Have that the Marriage Ideology Hides A diversified relationship portfolio A good relationship investment strategy (e.g., invest and hold, rather than dumping all your stock when a slick lure comes along, who may turn out to be a junk bond) A diversified portfolio of skills (from career to yard work to housework to care work to money management, singles figure out how to get it done) The freedom to pursue work, service, interests, and passions unapologetically The option of solitude What is risky in the lives of married couples that the ideology hides?: What is risky in the lives of married couples that the ideology hides? Remember that first picture of the couple on the beach, looking lovingly at each other? What’s the attraction? There’s no one else there. What’s the risk? There’s no one else there. Remember all the lyrics about wanting to be your everything? What’s the attraction? Being someone’s everything What’s the risk? Being someone’s everything One-Item Quiz: One-Item Quiz Question. The answer to all of these questions is the same. What is it? Why are many older single women so unlikely to feel lonely? Why do so many people do so well at single-parenting? Why do some new parents do better than others in the two years after a child is born? Why do many old people, married or single, do so well in their old age? Answer. They have a circle of friends who continue to be important in their lives. The Soul Mate Mythology Has Rendered Nearly Invisible Most of the Other Important Relationships in our Lives: The Soul Mate Mythology Has Rendered Nearly Invisible Most of the Other Important Relationships in our Lives Singles are stereotyped as people who are 'alone' and 'don’t have anyone,' even though national surveys show that single people are actually more closely connected to friends, neighbors, siblings, and parents than are the currently married or previously married Maybe this mischaracterization of singles has contributed to policies that exclude them and the people who are important to them; for example: Family and Medical Leave Act: marrieds can use it to care for a spouse, but singles are not covered to care for a friend or neighbor (and their friends cannot use it to care for them) Social Security benefits that cannot be passed on to an important peer in the life of a single person Funeral expenses are not covered if you are single (if you 'don’t have anyone,' who would come?) Slide57: And one final nod to the fog of ideology… Even Nobel Prize Winners Are Clueless: Even Nobel Prize Winners Are Clueless Interview with Erica Goode, New York Times reporter, Nov 5, 2002 Kahneman: 'Divorced women, compared to married women, are less satisfied with their lives, which is not surprising. But they’re actually more cheerful, when you look at the average mood they’re in in the course of the day. The other thing is the huge importance of friends. People are really happier with friends than they are with their families or their spouse or child.' Goode: 'Why would divorced women be more cheerful?' Kahneman: 'So far, I don’t understand it, but that’s what the data says.' I’d Love to Hear From You: I’d Love to Hear From You Send your studies, stories, comments, questions, or complaints to: Bella M. DePaulo P. O. Box 487 Summerland, CA 93067 or [email protected] Web Page: www.belladepaulo.com Highly recommended reading:: Highly recommended reading: 'How Second-Wave Feminism Forgot the Single Woman' By Rachel F. Moran In Hofstra Law Review Volume 33, #1, Fall 2004 A special issue of Psychological Inquiry was published in 2005. The target article, “Singles in Society and in Science,” was written by Bella DePaulo and Wendy Morris. Other scholars wrote commentaries:: A special issue of Psychological Inquiry was published in 2005. The target article, 'Singles in Society and in Science,' was written by Bella DePaulo and Wendy Morris. Other scholars wrote commentaries: Anne Byrne, Deborah Carr Caught in the cultural lag: The stigma of singlehood Tanya Koropeckyj-Cox Singles, society, and science: Sociological perspectives Elizabeth G. Pillsworth, Martie G. Haselton The evolution of coupling Kenneth L. Dion Marital status as stimulus variable and subject variable Richard E. Lucas, Portia S. Dryenforth The myth of marital bliss? Karen S. Rook, Laura A. Zettel The purported benefits of marriage viewed through the lens of physical health Cheryl R. Kaiser, Deborah A. Kashy The contextual nature and function of singlism Kipling D. Williams, Steve A. Nida Obliviously ostracizing singles Margaret S. Clark, Steven M. Graham Do relationship researchers neglect singles? Can we do better? Christian S. Crandall, Ruth H. Warner How a prejudice is recognized ISSC talk ends here; other slides are extras: ISSC talk ends here; other slides are extras Who is Happy? Here’s a recent claim by an eminent psychologist: Who is Happy? Here’s a recent claim by an eminent psychologist Hetherington, 2002, For Better or For Worse: 'Happily married couples are healthier, happier, wealthier, and sexier than are singles, especially single men.' What’s wrong with this picture? The Comfort of Adult Children in Old Age: The Comfort of Adult Children in Old Age What parents say to themselves when their children are rambunctious two-year olds or exasperating teenagers: 'They will be there for me when I am old.' How parents feel about their adult children when they get old (from Pinquart andamp; Sorensen, 2000, Psychology and Aging): 'Although older adults consider their relationships to their adult children as important, they do not wish to be in their immediate vicinity on an ongoing basis, for example, by living together.' Meta-analytic results of 286 studies (Pinquart andamp; Sorenson, 2000): 'Having contact with friends is more highly related to SWB than having contact with adult children.' From the world of advertising:All of these products havesomething in common – what is it?: From the world of advertising: All of these products have something in common – what is it? Cereal Soft drinks Ice cream Chocolate Cheese Dentistry Headache medication Body lotion Eye drops Cars Clothes Credit cards Beer Cigarettes Motor oil Hotels Real estate Life insurance Financial institutions Lottery tickets …and the answer is!: …and the answer is! Over the past few years, advertisements for all of these products have included brides! This is not a trick question: This is not a trick question What is the fate of single people on TV shows about single people, such as Friends and Sex and the City? They almost all end up coupled. New question, same basic answer – What do all of these recent showshave in common?: New question, same basic answer – What do all of these recent shows have in common? ER West Wing My Name is Earl Six Feet Under Gilmore Girls Will andamp; Grace Dawson’s Creek 7th Heaven Monk Party of Five Desperate Housewives Everybody Loves Raymond Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rugrats Nip/Tuck NYPD Blue Frasier Scrubs Etc Etc Etc Etc The answer, of course:: The answer, of course: They all include a wedding episode What is the prize on today’s human game shows?: What is the prize on today’s human game shows? Examples of contemporary game shows (aka 'reality' shows): The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Joe Millionaire, Average Joe The prize? A mate. What is the book industry hawking?: What is the book industry hawking? Conclusion of a reporter who looked into the issue: 'Dating advice books just keep coming to the shelves. They don’t have to be written by experts, they don’t have to contain any new information – and the advice doesn’t have to work!' The “attitude” about intensive coupling that all this adds up to:: The 'attitude' about intensive coupling that all this adds up to: Glorifying of marriage and coupling, or MATRIMANIA ! Why is this happening?: Why is this happening? Why are we practicing coupling so intensively, and why are we so glorifying this one relationship? Here are two possibilities. It is ordinary and normal, universal and timeless. Everyone does this. It is an accurate reflection of the contemporary state of the nation. State of the nation?: State of the nation? Maybe marriage really is at the center of the lives of American adults, in a way that it never has been before. For example… Maybe more adults are married than ever before Maybe marriage takes up more of adult life than it ever has before Maybe married adults are the only ones who contribute to the economy, participate in the workforce, buy houses Maybe adults today really do need marriage as an entrée to having sex, having children, and having someone other than a roommate to live with The Number of Single People is Growing: The Number of Single People is Growing Includes always single, divorced, and widowed. Number of Single Men and Women (MILLIONS) in 2000: Number of Single Men and Women (MILLIONS) in 2000 Median Age at First Marriage: Median Age at First Marriage More from Stephanie Coontz: More from Stephanie Coontz Marriage has lost 'its monopoly over The regulation of sex The rearing of children The transmission of resources from the older to the younger generation The organization of the division of labor by gender.' 'There will be no turning back.' 'We are in the middle of a world-historic transformation of marriage and family life.' Compare adult years spent single to adult years spent married:: Compare adult years spent single to adult years spent married: American adults spend more years of their adult life single than married So it is marriage, not singlehood, that is transitional (and only for those people who do marry) Hence, the title: Single: It is how we spend the better part of our adult lives By The Numbers:Up with One-Person Households;Down with Married-with-Children Households: By The Numbers: Up with One-Person Households; Down with Married-with-Children Households Are singles too trivial a segment of the workforce to matter?: Are singles too trivial a segment of the workforce to matter? No, singles account for more than 40% of the workforce. Do single people contribute too little to the economy?: Do single people contribute too little to the economy? No, singles pour about $1.6 trillion into the economy Are the masses of single people huddled into rented apartments, condos, and townhouses, apart from all the married people who own their own homes and gardens?: Are the masses of single people huddled into rented apartments, condos, and townhouses, apart from all the married people who own their own homes and gardens? No, singles account for more than 40% of home purchases. Is marriage more necessary today than it ever was before?: Is marriage more necessary today than it ever was before? Do you need to marry to have sex without stigma or shame? No. The stigma has flipped. Used to be stigmatizing to have sex before, or apart from, marriage; now it is stigmatizing not to. Do you need marriage in order to live with another person without stigma or shame?: Do you need marriage in order to live with another person without stigma or shame? No. Co-habitation is still on the rise. Is marriage the first step on the road to a good education and a job?: Is marriage the first step on the road to a good education and a job? No, the education and the job often come first (and contribute to the rising age at first marriage) Do women still need marriage for financial security?: Do women still need marriage for financial security? Most women are in the workforce and many can make it on their own dime. Do women still need marriage as a context for having children?: Do women still need marriage as a context for having children? No. Having children outside of marriage is increasingly commonplace. The whole ball of marriage has unraveled: The whole ball of marriage has unraveled Women can have sex without having children, and they can have children without having sex. Women can pick up the check at work and the sperm at the bank. Everyone can buy their own toasters without having wedding showers. So much for the “accuracy” answer: So much for the 'accuracy' answer The question was, why are we so absorbed in glorifying marriage? One of the two answers I proposed was that marriage really is more important to our lives than it ever has been before That answer is out. So what about the other? Is the glorifying of coupling, and the intensive way we practice coupling, timeless and universal? Here’s why the question is not as stupid as it sounds: Here’s why the question is not as stupid as it sounds [Thanks to Elizabeth Pillsworth and Martie Haselton for their paper, 'The evolution of coupling,' in Psych Inquiry, 2005.] From an evolutionary perspective, we need 'adaptations that promote successful mating, such as the basic desire to find a mate and have sex.' Without such adaptations, we would come to 'an evolutionary dead end.' So, there is something very basic in play. And yet…: And yet… There is nothing fundamental or enduring about the intensive way we currently practice coupling 'There is nothing from an evolutoinary perspective that would suggest that all relationship roles can be collapsed into a single partner.' and 'in most cultures around the globe, your spouse is not your best friend, or even your primary social partner.' A few other points from Pillsworth and Haselton:: A few other points from Pillsworth and Haselton: 'We see nothing in evolutionary theory leading to the prediction that the reproductive pairbond is the only relationship of importance, or even the primary one' 'The fact that humans have adaptations for coupling does not imply the moral superiority of coupled individuals' 'The evolutionary perspective also does not suggest that coupling will result in a healthier or more satisfying life for any particular individual' 'In the modern world, coupling also does not guarantee an on-average fitness benefit to couple members or their children' So neither of my initial answers makes sense: So neither of my initial answers makes sense We are not glorifying marriage and coupling because more people are marrying, and spending more of their adult life married than ever before We are not glorifying coupling over all other relationships, and practicing it so intensively, because people everywhere have always done so There’s another reason for the glorifying of couples, and it also accounts for something else:: There’s another reason for the glorifying of couples, and it also accounts for something else: SINGLISM – stereotyping, stigmatizing, and marginalizing people who are single Stereotyping of Singles:The Research: Stereotyping of Singles: The Research What comes to mind most readily? Here’s the question we asked nearly a thousand people to answer: 'Think about people who are single (married). Please list the characteristics that describe people who are single (married). These characteristics could include personality traits, things they do or like, their attitudes or opinions, or anything else that comes to mind.' Open-Ended Descriptions of People Who Are Single or Married (%): Open-Ended Descriptions of People Who Are Single or Married (%) N = 950 Authors: Morris, DePaulo, Hertel, andamp; Ritter How Ideology Shapes Science: How Ideology Shapes Science Ideology leaves its mark on: What we study The assumptions we make, that often go untested The dimensions we never see The questions we ask The questions we do not ask What we report How we interpret what we report The invisible hand of ideology is shaping relationship science: The invisible hand of ideology is shaping relationship science If we are influenced by the ideology, then we will probably be studying coupled relationships more than any other adult relationships. (Yes, of course, there are other explanations.) Which Relationships Do We Study?: Which Relationships Do We Study? Fingerman andamp; Hay (2002). Personal Relationships. Searched all issues from 1994-1999 of: Journal of Marriage and Family Journal of Social and Personal Relationships Journal of Family Psychology Personal Relationships Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Journal of Family Issues Found 976 studies of relationships Number of studies of each relationship type(out of 976): Number of studies of each relationship type (out of 976) Ideologically devalued relationships Ideologically valued peer relationships How do we talk about the relationships we study?: How do we talk about the relationships we study? Here are some titles of papers published in relationships journals (with some key changes made to muddle authorial identities) Theories of relationships Reciprocity in close relationships Aspects of interpersonal relationships Relationship quality and self-other concepts Contextual correlates of relationship commitment What were these studies actually about?: What were these studies actually about? They were not about 'relationships' or 'close relationships' or 'interpersonal relationships' They were about just one kind of relationship – the coupled kind (Similar to when early medical research was described as research on heart disease when the only hearts studied were men’s?) Questions about multiple roles, diverse skills: Questions about multiple roles, diverse skills What we DO ask: What are the implications of multiple roles (e.g., worker, housekeeper, caregiver) for the well-being of husbands and wives and for their relationship? [Barnett andamp; Hyde (2001). American Psychologist] What we do NOT ask: What are the implications of multiple roles and skills for well-being after the marriage ends? What are the implications of multiple roles and skills for people (singles included) across the lifespan? To Your (Relationship) Health!: To Your (Relationship) Health! What We Ask: What brings romantic partners together? What leads them down the path to marriage? What brings them even closer? What keeps them together? What We Do NOT Ask so often: What are the implications of intensive coupling for your other relationships, and how might that matter after your marriage ends? How might your relationship health differ if you maintained a more diversified relationship portfolio? The up’s and down’s of solo living: The up’s and down’s of solo living One potential downside: Loneliness Number of studies of loneliness: Hundreds? More than that? One potential upside: Solitude Number of studies of solitude: a few How does ideology fog the brains of otherwise brilliant thinkers and award-winning scholars?: How does ideology fog the brains of otherwise brilliant thinkers and award-winning scholars? EXHIBIT #1 (more to come later in the talk) The marital relationship is the 'most enduring relationship most adults experience.' --Carstensen, Graff, Levenson, andamp; Gottman (1996) Oh?: Oh? What really is the most enduring relationship most people will experience? Not marital relationships (they typically don’t start until you’ve been around for a few decades) Not parent-child relationships (parent is around long before kid shows up; kid stays around long after parents die) Not friends (they don’t show up right away, either) The answer: Sibling relationships But what if the question was only about adulthood? How common is it to haveno spouse? No sibs?: How common is it to have no spouse? No sibs?