From the days when I first started reading the original journal articles claiming that marriage is beneficial to your health and well-being, I have been stunned by how flawed most of the studies are, methodologically. More and more laypersons are beginning to understand the problems with these cheater techniques. Professionals who have made a career out of claiming that Marriage Wins will probably be the last to acknowledge these very fundamental flaws.

Here, I want to share some of my critiques. I hope they will help you understand what’s wrong with the studies and the claims about the supposed health and happiness benefits of getting married. Ideally, once you read a few of these, you will know how to assess new studies and new claims, if you don’t already.

Articles and Blog Posts

If you want to read something short, this gets right to the point:

Everything you think you know about single people is wrong (Washington Post)

These two are a bit longer, but still just blog posts rather than chapters or books (see below for those):

Marriage: How we got it so wrong for so long

Why divorced people are key to understanding marriage

Article focusing on claims about happiness:

Every time you hear that getting married will make you happier, read this

Articles focusing on claims about health:

Why we thought marriage made us healthy, and why we were wrong (NBC)

Get married, get healthy? Maybe not. (New York Times)

Book Chapter

DePaulo, B. (2018). Toward a positive psychology of single life (pp. 251-275). In D. Dunn (Ed.), Frontiers of Social Psychology: Positive Psychology. Routledge.

Includes a section on the 4 most egregious flaws in the research and arguments about the supposedly beneficial effects of getting married.

Books

Marriage vs. Single Life: How Science and the Media Got It So Wrong

Bella DePaulo Marriage Vs Single LifeThis is the most up-to-date of my relevant books. It includes one key chapter on the problems with the research and interpretations of research on marital status and life outcomes. It also includes many chapters critiquing specific studies and claims.

 

The Science of Marriage: What We Know That Just Isn’t So

This book includes just the one key chapter from the longer book (Marriage vs. Single Life), plus an introduction.

 

Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After

My first book on singles. It includes the chapter, “Science and the single person.” There are critiques in other chapters, too.

Maybe also relevant

What 74,000+ studies of marriage and romantic relationships still haven’t told us

Is that really a deficit — or just a difference? Fair-mindedness in research and in life

Still to come

I still want to write one more thing on this topic, about the one thing that almost always means that a claim is suspect: The researchers compare only those people who are currently married to single people.

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