Apr 1, 2009

The Math of Predicting Marriage Success

I came across a remarkable study that could open up some avenues of empirical research into socionic phenomena. 

Some British researchers learned to predict with 94% accuracy whether a new couple would get divorced or not in the next four years based on data from just 15 minutes of conversation. 

I highly recommend this radio discussion transcript from 2004. Basically, they would film newlyweds discussing a contentious topic such as family finances and attach point values to various displays of positive and negative emotion, such as humor or contempt. "Marriage success" was defined simply as remaining together after four years. The more positive a couple's points, the greater their chances of staying together. Successful couples, they found, had up to five times more positives than negatives, whereas unsuccessful couples had an equal number or more negatives than positives. 

Furthermore, by looking at the data and observing couples, they were able to distinguish five general patterns of interaction: (source)

Stable couples
1. "the validating couple" -- calm, intimate, companionable, like to back each other up
2. "the avoiders"-- do their best to eschew conflict. 
Unstable couples
1. "the hostiles" -- neither person wants to talk about contentious issues
2. "the hostile-detached couple" -- one is fiery and argumentative, and the other isn't.
Borderline couples (can go either way)
1. "the volatile couple" -- romantic and passionate, but have heated arguments 

If you're interested in learning about their methodology and findings in depth, their book The Mathematics of Marriage is available online at Google books. 


Maverick said...

"I came across a remarkable study that could open up some avenues of empirical research into socionic phenomena."

Well, that didn't take you long to turn around ;-)


Sam said...

This is pretty awesome. Gottman was mentioned on the16types a while ago.

Bryan said...

I'm interested. Got to check this out.

Donna said...

i looked over the book. the review of the research was excellent as well as descriptions of the dynamics of failing marriages...particularly the 4 Horsemen of the Apocolypse, the negative attributions of unhappy spouses. there was a small section describing the the physiological reactions of negative partners and how this raises stress hormones in both partners. i believe there could be strong support for socionics here in later years...we will wait for the bridge between the newer research and socionics. great find!

tcaudilllg said...

When conviction meets passion, and the gaping void within is filled from without....

Anonymous said...

I first heard about this from the Blink audio-book, and had to find out more. The research uses coding of facial muscle movements to measure emotion. That procedure could finally make socionics study scientific, objective and practical. I'm excited about the possibilities.