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PSYCHOLOGISTS EXPLORE WHY RELATIONSHIPS LAST

AND WHO BEST PREDICTS HOW LONG THEY WILL LAST

Roommates Were Best At Predicting A Relationship's Demise;

Intimacy Seen As Key to Happily Married Couples

CHICAGO -- Everyone thinks they are the best judge of how good or bad their relationships are but they are not, say psychologists with expertise on perceptions of long-term relationships. Two studies examining the important ingredients of a satisfying marriage and why others are better at predicting the outcomes of relationships will be presented at the American Psychological Association's (APA) 105th Annual Convention in Chicago.

Predictions About Relationships

"It appears that when making predictions about relationshiplongevity, two heads are better than one, especially when thesecond head is a roommate" said psychologists Tara K. MacDonald,Ph.D., and Michael Ross, Ph.D. The authors came to this conclusionby conducting two studies of 74 college students who had beendating someone for at least 6.3 months. The dating couples wereasked how serious they thought the couple was, how satisfied theywere in the relationship and how "in love" the partners were. Theauthors also asked the roommates and parents of the couple the samequestions.

The dating couples, the roommates and the parents were alsoasked to list the strengths and challenges of the relationship.After six months and then again a year later, the authors checkedto see which couples were still together and who had the mostaccurate predictions. "The students were consistently moreoptimistic than their parents and roommates that their relationshipwould endure, but were much less accurate. They focused too much onthe positive aspects of the relationship," said the authors.

Parents were more accurate than the students in predicting thelength of the relationship but the roommates made the bestpredictions. "It seems that observers see more clearly the positiveand negative parts of the relationship which, therefore, makes thembetter judges of whether it could be a lasting relationship."

Presentation: "Predictions About Relationships: Do Lovers,+h)0*0*0*__+Roommates or Parents Know Best?" by Tara K. MacDonald, Ph.D.,University of Lethbridge and Michael Ross, Ph.D., University ofWaterloo. Session 4053, 9:00 _ 10:50 am, August 18, 1997, PalmerHouse Hilton Hotel, Salon V

Love, Marital Satisfaction and Duration of Marriage

Previous research has shown that a satisfying relationshipincludes three aspects of love __ intimacy, passion and commitment.When these three aspects are all at high levels, relationships arethought to be most satisfying and most likely to endure. Newresearch using married couples has demonstrated that the aspect ofintimacy is most essential for long, happy marriages for bothhusbands and wives.

This comes from a study conducted by psychologists ScottSilberman, Ph.D., and Sharon E. Robinson_Kurpius, Ph.D., of ArizonaState University who asked 104 couples, married from two months to45 years (ages 18 to 71) what aspects of their marriage werecrucial to their marital satisfaction and the longevity of theirmarriage. The researchers found that intimacy (intensity ofliking [love], depth and breadth of exchange, sharing of resourcesand feelings) followed by passion, are the strongest predictors ofmarital satisfaction for both husbands and wives. In addition,although commitment was not found to predict marital satisfaction,high levels were found to be related to increased marital durationfor husbands. Passion, however, was shown to decrease over time forwives.

Finally, discrepancies between husbands and wives regardingthese three aspects of love did not predict marital satisfaction."In a nutshell," said Dr. Silberman, "it appears that if you trulyconsider your spouse a friend, you are far more likely to enjoy along, happy marriage with that person."

Presentation: "Relationships Among Love, Marital Satisfactionand Duration of Marriage," by Scott Silberman, Ph.D., and Sharon E.Robinson_Kurpius, Ph.D., Arizona State University. Session 4190,1:00 _ 1:50 pm, August 18, 1997, Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers,River Exhibition Hall (B-6)

(Full text available from the APA Public Affairs Office.)

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington,DC, is the largest scientific and professional organizationrepresenting psychology in the United States and is the world'slargest association of psychologists. APA's membership includesmore than 151,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultantsand students. Through its divisions in 50 subfields of psychologyand affiliations with 58 state, territorial and Canadian provincialassociations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as aprofession and as a means of promoting human welfare.

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