Monday, October 7, 2019

Thoughts on the Typical Meaning of Predicting Divorce

The researcher who wrote the following tweet has a nice thread on some technical details about difficulties scientists have with prediction of things in humans. It explains one of the major problems in predicting. Clicking on the tweet will take you to the beginning of his thread.


https://twitter.com/MaartenvSmeden/status/1134388823310422016

In my field (psychology, studying marriage), much has been made of the ability to “predict” divorce. But, that’s not really what the takeaway of the research on that subject should be.

To start with, when researchers say you can predict divorce with over 90% accuracy, it’s not really prospective prediction. It’s classification after the fact in a given data set. Such models will not perform as well in a new, other data set. For a great article on the technical matters, in this field related to predicting divorce, see this article.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1622921/
Further, even in those types of studies, there is usually massive measurement, often including objective coding of couple interaction. This is just not something available to anyone in the practice world working with non-study couples.

Many of us in psychology have published these types of studies. A better takeaway from such studies is that they show patterns that are associated with increased odds of problems in the future (and present) of a relationship.

That kind of information is valuable for highlighting risks and working to help couples think about what is possible for them to improve their odds. But, predicting a specific couple is going to make it or not? You can have an empirically-informed guesses but it’s hard to go beyond that.

All that being said, if you want the divorce risk for a couple you are working with, asking a couple questions will tell you pretty much.

                   How sure are you that you want to be with your partner in the future?

                   Have you been thinking about or talking about divorce?

Sometimes, just asking directly what you want to know can get you a lot of information. 


Monday, July 15, 2019

Article that I posted at the Institute for Family Studies on Mandy Len Catron's piece in the Atlantic

I will cross post this here some day soon, but for now, here is the link for the article that I wrote at IFS.

Between Mandy Len Catron's piece in the Atlantic and this piece here, you have a pretty deep dive in the cultural, and personal, discussions people are having about marriage and cohabitation.

3 Questions That Can Clarify Commitment: A Response to Mandy Len Catron

Have at it. 

Monday, January 28, 2019

Some Links about Asymmetrical Commitment


My colleagues and I have published a number of articles about asymmetrical commitment in relationships--especially in unmarried romantic relationships.  I have argued in many places that asymmetrical commitment is likely an increasingly common phenomena of romantic relationship development. The reason is that there are fewer steps and stages--less clarity about signals of commitment--in current patterns of dating and mate selection.

I will not state all the particulars here, but, instead, want to provide some links to the body of work we have around this important concept.

1. A short video of me explaining asymmetrical commitment and its association with ambiguity between partners about the nature of the commitment in their relationship, using the illustration of a teeter-totter (or, if you rather, a see-saw).  CLICK HERE.

2. A theoretical overview and review of key findings on the concept in a digestible blog article by me and Galena Rhoades. CLICK HERE.

3. A paper of ours showing that there are greater levels of asymmetrical commitment among couples who lived together before either marrying or having clear, mutual plans to marry--and that the asymmetry does not abate at all, years into marriage:

Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J. (2006). Pre-engagement cohabitation and gender asymmetry in marital commitment. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 553-560.

4. A paper of ours showing that asymmetrical commitment is associated with lower relationship quality, even controlling for levels of commitment between partners:

Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2012). A longitudinal investigation of commitment dynamics in cohabiting relationships. Journal of Family Issues, 33(3), 369-390.

5. A paper of ours examining associations between asymmetrical commitment and a) various dimension of relationship quality (e.g., relationship adjustment, aggression), b) relationship characteristics (e.g., cohabitation, plans for marriage), and c) break-up among unmarried couples in serious relationships:

Stanley, S. M., Rhoades, G. K., Scott, S. B., Kelmer, G., Markman, H. J., & Fincham, F. D. (2017). Asymmetrically committed relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 34, 1241–1259. Advance online version published in 2016.
[This paper has a pretty detailed literature review of the research by various scholars on asymmetrical commitment. Full word-doc, author version, available here.]

6. A paper of ours on the characteristics of individuals who are in asymmetrically committed relationships, including variables such as alternative quality and attachment dynamics:

Stanley, S. M., Rhoades, G. K., Kelmer, G., Scott, S. B., Markman, H. J., & Fincham, F. D. (2018). Unequally into “Us”: Characteristics of individuals in asymmetrically committed relationships. Family Process.

A blog entry summarizing the findings of this article above. CLICK HERE.

A video abstract about this same article.  CLICK HERE.