Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 405–426 | Cite as

DO PEOPLE REALLY ADAPT TO MARRIAGE?

Article

Abstract

Although cross-sectional studies have shown a reliable association between marital status and subjective well-being, a recent longitudinal study [Lucas et al. 2003, Journal of Personality & Social Psychology 84(3), pp.␣527–539] found no support for the idea that happiness increases after marriage. Instead, participants who got married reported short-term increases followed by complete adaptation back to baseline levels of well-being. However, researchers have criticized this study on two grounds. First, these results contradict cohort-based analyses from a nationally representative sample. Second, these analyses do not control for pre-marriage cohabitation, which could potentially inflate baseline levels of well-being. The original data (plus four additional waves) are reanalyzed to address these concerns. Results confirm that individuals do not get a lasting boost in life satisfaction following marriage.

Keywords

subjective well being marriage adaptation happiness setpoint theory 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Brickman P., Coates D., Janoff-Bulman R., (1978). Lottery winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative? Journal of Personality & Social Psychology 36(8): 917–927CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Davis, J.A., T.W. Smith and P.V. Marsden: 2003, General Social Surveys, 1972–2002 [Computer File] (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, Ann Arbor, MI). Available at: http://webapp.icpsr.umich. edu/GSS/Google Scholar
  3. DePaulo B.M., Morris W.L., (2005). Singles in society and in science Psychological Inquiry 16: 57–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Diener E., Suh E.M., Lucas R.E., Smith H.L., (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress Psychological Bulletin 125(2): 276–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Easterlin R.A., (2003). Explaining happiness Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100: 11176–11183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Easterlin, R.A.: 2005, ‘Is there an “iron law of happiness”?’ Institute of Economic Policy Research Working Paper (05.8. Retrieved July 15, 2005 from http://econpapers.repec.org/paper/scpwpaper/05-8.htmGoogle Scholar
  7. Freedman D.A., (2001). Ecological inference and the ecological fallacy In: Smelser N.J., Baltes P.B., (eds), International Encyclopedia for the Social and Behavioral Sciences Vol 6 Elsevier New York, NY pp. 4027–4030Google Scholar
  8. Haisken-De New J.P., Frick R., (2003). Desktop Companion to the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (GSOEP) German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), BerlinGoogle Scholar
  9. Haring-Hidore M., Stock W.A., Okun M.A., Witter R.A., (1985). Marital status and subjective well-being: A research synthesis Journal of Marriage and the Family 47(4): 947–953CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hope S., Rodgers B., Power C., (1999). Marital status transitions and psychological distress: Longitudinal evidence from a national population sample Psychological Medicine 29(2): 381–389CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Inglehart, R.: 2003, World Values Surveys and European Values Surveys, 1981–1984, 1990–1993, and 1995–1997 [Computer File] (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann␣Arbor). Available at: http://webapp.icpsr.umich.edu/cocoon/ICPSR-STUDY/02790.xmlGoogle Scholar
  12. Jocklin V., McGue M., Lykken D.T., (1996). Personality and divorce: A genetic analysis Journal of Personality & Social Psychology 71(2): 288–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Johnson D.R., Wu J., (2002). An empirical test of crisis, social selection, and role explanations of the relationship between marital disruption and psychological distress: A pooled time-series analysis of four-wave panel data Journal of Marriage & Family 64(1): 211–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Johnson W., McGue M., Krueger R.F., Bouchard T.J.J., (2004). Marriage and personality: A genetic analysis Journal of Personality & Social Psychology 86(2): 285–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lucas, R.E.: 2005, ‘Time does not heal all wounds: A longitudinal study of reaction and adaptation to divorce’, Psychological Science 16, pp. 945–950Google Scholar
  16. Lucas R.E., Clark A.E., Georgellis Y., Diener E., (2003). Reexamining adaptation and the set point model of happiness: Reactions to changes in marital status Journal of Personality & Social Psychology 84(3): 527–539CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lucas R.E., Clark A.E., Georgellis Y., Diener E., (2004). Unemployment alters the set point for life satisfaction Psychological Science 15(1): 8–13CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Lucas R.E., Dyrenforth P.E., (2005). The myth of marital bliss? Psychological Inquiry 16: 111–115Google Scholar
  19. Lucas, R.E. and P. Dyrenforth: in press, ‘Social relationships and subjective well being’, in K.D. Vohs and E.J. Finkel (eds), Intrapersonal Processes and Interpersonal Relationships: Two Halves, One Self (Guilford Press, New York)Google Scholar
  20. Lykken D., Tellegen A., (1996). Happiness is a stochastic phenomenon Psychological Science, 7(3): 186–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Raudenbush S., Bryk A., Congdon R., (2004). HLM 6.0 [Statistical Software] Scientific Software International, Lincolnwood, ILGoogle Scholar
  22. Rindfuss R.R., (1991). The young adult years: Diversity, structural change, and fertility Demography 28: 493–512PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Stutzer, A. and B.S. Frey: In press, ‘Does marriage make people happy, or do happy people get married?’ Journal of Socio-EconomicsGoogle Scholar
  24. Waite L.J., (1995). Does marriage matter?Demography 32: 483–507PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

Personalised recommendations