Nav: Home

Some single people are happy on their own, research finds

August 21, 2015

People who fear relationship conflicts are just as happy when they are single or in a relationship, according to new research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

"It's a well-documented finding that single people tend to be less happy compared to those in a relationship, but that may not be true for everyone. Single people also can have satisfying lives," said lead researcher Yuthika Girme, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

In a survey of more than 4,000 New Zealand residents, a nationally representative sample, people with high "avoidance social goals" - who try at all costs to avoid relationship disagreements and conflict - were just as happy being single as other people were in relationships. Being single may remove some of the anxiety triggered by relationship conflicts for those individuals, the study noted. Some previous research has shown that being single usually is associated with slightly lower life satisfaction and poorer physical and psychological health.

Conversely, the study found that participants with low avoidance goals who aren't concerned about the ups and downs of a relationship were less happy when they were single. The study participants ranged in age from 18 to 94 years old with long-term relationships lasting almost 22 years on average. One-fifth of the participants were single at the time of the study. The research was published online in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Trying too hard to avoid relationship conflicts actually may create more problems, Girme said. While high avoidance goals may help people be happier when they are single, it can have negative effects in a relationship, contributing to anxiety, loneliness, lower life satisfaction, and an unhealthy focus on negative memories, according to prior research.

With a high divorce rate, solo parenting, and many people delaying marriage to pursue career goals, the number of single people is on the rise. Single people now outnumber married adults in the United States, with more than 128 million singles representing 51 percent of the adult population.

The study also analyzed the effects of "approach social goals," where people seek to maintain relationships by enhancing intimacy and fostering growth together as partners. Study participants with high approach goals were generally more satisfied with their lives - but also experienced the most happiness when they were in a relationship compared to those who were single. The researchers found similar results in a separate survey of 187 University of Auckland students.

"Having greater approach goals tends to have the best outcomes for people when they are in a relationship, but they also experience the most hurt and pain when they are single," Girme said.
-end-


Society for Personality and Social Psychology

Related Relationships Articles:

Better quality relationships associated with reduced dementia risk
Positive social support from adult children is associated with reduced risk of developing dementia, according to a new research published today.
Contraception influences sexual desire in committed relationships
How often women in heterosexual couples desire sex depends on how committed the relationship is and what type of birth control the woman uses.
Health determined by social relationships at work
Recent research shows higher social identification with one's team or organization is associated with better health and lower stress.
Financial relationships between biomedical companies and organizations
Sixty-three percent of organizations that published clinical practice guidelines on the National Guideline Clearinghouse website in 2012 reported receiving funds from biomedical companies, but these relationships were seldom disclosed in the guidelines, according to a new study published by Henry Stelfox and colleagues from the University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, in PLOS Medicine.
Money really does matter in relationships
Our romantic choices are not just based on feelings and emotions, but how rich we feel compared to others, a new study published in Frontiers in Psychology has found.
Does frequent sex lead to better relationships? Depends on how you ask
Newlywed couples who have a lot of sex don't report being any more satisfied with their relationships than those who have sex less often, but their automatic behavioral responses tell a different story, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Concussion can alter parent-child relationships
A study published in the Journal of Neuropsychology, reveals the adverse effects of mild traumatic brain injury on the quality parent-child relationships.
Emotionally supportive relationships linked to lower testosterone
Science and folklore alike have long suggested that high levels of testosterone can facilitate the sorts of attitudes and behavior that make for, well, a less than ideal male parent.
Memory is greater threat to romantic relationships than Facebook
A new study was designed to test whether contacts in a person's Facebook friends list who are romantically desirable are more or less of a threat to an existing relationship than are potential partners a person can recall from memory. threatened current committed relationships, as reported in an article published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.
How does prison time affect relationships?
A new study highlights the complicated spillover effects of incarceration on the quality of relationships.

Related Relationships Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Setbacks
Failure can feel lonely and final. But can we learn from failure, even reframe it, to feel more like a temporary setback? This hour, TED speakers on changing a crushing defeat into a stepping stone. Guests include entrepreneur Leticia Gasca, psychology professor Alison Ledgerwood, astronomer Phil Plait, former professional athlete Charly Haversat, and UPS training manager Jon Bowers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".