The All-or-Nothing Marriage Discussed in New York Magazine

When your partner is your best friend — someone who really gets you, you know? — it’s a wonderful thing. And yet thinking of marriage as the ultimate BFF-ship potentially comes with its own set of problems, setting some lofty expectations for the relationship. It often means that this is the one person to whom you look to meet your deepest psychological and personal growth requirements; it’s the tippy-top of the old Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid, in other words.

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The Marriage Hack Featured in the Huffington Post

I know. I know. It sounds like one of those late-late night TV pitches, or some volume on the self-help shelf of a bookstore. Six-pack abs or a lucrative new career today -- no effort required. Only $19.95 -- half off if you act now!

I'm as cynical as you are about such claims, and we're right to be. Any offer of something for nothing is almost always a gimmick or scam. But what if such a claim were based on scientific theory and supported by credible evidence? Would we be able to put our skepticism aside and give the claim a fair hearing, even if it sounds outlandish?

Eli Finkel is hoping that you can. 

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The Science of Online Dating Discussed in the Economist

Today, though, there is a new matchmaker in the village: the internet. It differs from the old ones in two ways. First, its motive is purely profit. Second, single wannabe lovers are queuing up to use it, rather than resenting its nagging. For internet dating sites promise two things that neither traditional matchmakers nor chance encounters at bars, bus-stops and bar mitzvahs offer. One is a vastly greater choice of potential partners. The other is a scientifically proven way of matching suitable people together, enhancing the chance of “happily ever after.”

The greater choice is unarguable. But does it lead to better outcomes? And do the “scientifically tested algorithms” actually work, and deliver the goods in ways that traditional courtship (or, at least, flirtation) cannot manage?

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Research on What We Want in a Romantic Partner Featured in TribLocal

Maybe you’ve heard about the attractive girl who says she wants a “nice” guy who makes her laugh, but ends up with the handsome jerk instead? Or the guy who boasts to friends that he only goes for party girls but is often seen with the geeky bookworm?

A recent study by professors at Northwestern University and Texas A&M University claims that what a person says they want in a partner is often a lot of hooey.

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Research on High-Maintenance Interactions Discussed in the Huffington Post

In the spirit of the upcoming 'Twilight' movie, I would like to talk about the undead: vampires. More precisely, emotional vampires. Are there people in your life who just sap your emotional energy once they walk in the door? Do you feel totally spent after interacting with some people? There are vampires among us, and I am actually more frightened about sitting next to one at a dinner party than meeting Count Dracula himself.

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Research on Outsourcing Self-Regulation Featured in the Huffington Post

My wife and I go to spinning class a couple mornings a week. It's something we like to do together, and I feel like I benefit from having a regular workout partner. Some days I'm just lazy, or I don't want to venture out in the pre-dawn cold, but having a supportive partner motivates me. She bolsters my self-discipline when it flags.

Or does she? Is it possible that having a supportive partner might have the opposite and paradoxical effect, actually undermining effort and commitment to health and fitness goals over the long haul? 

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Research on Spendthrifts and Tightwads Discussed in the New York Times

But in the area perhaps most fraught with potential conflict — money — somehow, some way, people gravitate toward their polar opposite, a new study says.

“Spendthrifts” and “tightwads” (which, as it turns out, are actual academic terms) tend to marry the other. Unfortunately, these dichotomized duos report unhappier marriages than people with more similar attitudes toward spending.

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Research on Gender Differences in Mate Selection Featured in the New York Times

Scientists have long observed that women tend to be pickier than men when choosing a mate. The usual explanation is evolutionary: because women have a bigger investment in reproduction — they are the ones who have to endure pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding — they need to hedge their bets against selecting a dud to be the father.

Now, two scientists at Northwestern University have published an experiment that challenges the evolutionary hypothesis.

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The Science of Speed-Dating Discussed in the Chicago Tribune

Erika Kokkinos felt like a monkey in a zoo.

Technically, she was "dating." At each of 12 tables at an art gallery in Northwestern University's student union, Kokkinos was meeting an eligible college bachelor, some of them quite attractive. But the radio/television/film major had trouble disregarding the tripod-mounted cameras and cucumber--sized microphones. Barely an hour before, she had produced a saliva sample-not exactly a sexy exercise--so researchers could analyze her hormone levels. The whole evening of romantic possibility had been set up as a science experiment.

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The Science of Speed-Dating Discussed in Nature Magazine

Eli Finkel and Paul Eastwick have probably seen more first dates than most. The social scientists at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, have watched hundreds of videos of single people as they participate in a curious, but not unpopular, trend known as speed dating. Two participants spill their souls to each other for a set time, say four minutes, and try to decide whether they might have a future together. When the time is up, they move on to a new partner, sometimes talking to a dozen or more people in a night. 

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Research on Romantic Preferences in Speed-Dating Featured in the New York Times

When I first identified the Flaw-O-Matic, in a 1995 column, it seemed primarily a mechanism to kill romance. After studying picky daters — like a guy who couldn’t tolerate dirty elbows, and a woman who insisted on men who were at least 5-foot-10 and played polo — I predicted that they would remain permanently single.

Today I’m more hopeful. Thanks to a revolution in dating research over the past decade, the Flaw-O-Matic now looks like a more versatile mechanism than we theoretical pioneers imagined.

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