In body parts, houses, and research studies, bigger is not always better.
Every month, 60,500 people go to their Google search bar and type the question, “Is Santa real?” That’s from a study by Search Factory, an Australian optimization agency. I like to read the original versions of studies, but I can’t find this one, so I’m relying here on press reports. Risky, I know.
In articles discussing the results of the research, the question about Santa was the only one that was asked more often than this one:
In 1993, the brilliant Nalini Ambady, together with Robert Rosenthal (my advisor at Harvard, most famous for his research showing how teacher’s expectations influence students’ performance), published a startling finding: Students seem to be able to size up a professor in 2 seconds.
[Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series on why it matters when misleading reports about marriage and single life are perpetrated in the media. Part 1 is here.]
All of the media reports claiming that getting married will make you lastingly happier or healthier or better in some other psychological, emotional, or physical way – they are all wrong. Every single one of them. (There is one way that getting married does help – it makes you wealthier. That’s because of discriminatory practices of singlism built right into our laws and practices. But you can lose a lot in a flash if you get divorced.)
In 1986, Newsweek published a cover story with the sensational claim that a 40-year old woman who had never married was “more likely to be killed by a terrorist” than to ever get married. Even thought the viral powers of social media were decades in the future, the story took off. It was discussed everywhere, mostly unquestioningly. Finally, Susan Faludi took it apart in her brilliant Backlash book, but by then, the damage was done. Decades later, even Newsweek copped to getting it wrong, though they did so in a story that itself was matrimanical.
[Bella’s intro: We are still just beginning to understand what it means to be single-at-heart. At this early stage, it is especially illuminating to hear personal stories from people who fit the “single-at-heart” criteria. I’m very grateful that one of the readers most engaged in discussing posts here at the PsychCentral “Single at Heart” blog, “Alan,” has written this guest post. Thanks, Alan! And thanks for your participation over the years. Also: to other readers who consider themselves single-at-heart, if you would also like to write about your experiences for this blog, just let me know.]
With that Malaysian Airlines flight still missing, I have been thinking about another flight that could have been catastrophic but wasn’t. It was five years ago when Captain Sully Sullenberger heroically achieved a dramatic landing of a plane that was in serious trouble. As the aftermath unfolded, we learned more about how various people reacted when the dramatic events were in progress.
Over the course of blogging for many years, particular people who participate in the discussions in the Comments section start to seem familiar to me, even if I’ve never met them. Once, when I got a personal email from one such person, I recognized the name and responded right away. She later told me that she was happy to hear from me so quickly, and mentioned that to someone else. That person’s interpretation? “She got back to you so quickly because she’s single.”
One of the most frustrating things about singlism – the stereotyping, stigmatizing, and discrimination against people who are single – is that it is not just practiced by select portions of the population, say, those who practice racism or sexism or ageism or heterosexism or any of the other more familiar isms. Sadly, the sin of singlism knows no bounds. Smart, progressive people, cutting-edge publications, successful businesses – all of them, and more, practice singlism, usually without apology or even any awareness that there is anything to apologize for.
Over the course of my research on innovative ways of living, one of the people I set my sights on interviewing was Karen Hester. I knew that she was one of those people called a “burning soul,” who was so passionate about living in a real, caring, committed community that she was one of the motivating forces in creating such a community. Together with several other single friends and some families, she did the years of work involved in making the Temescal Creek cohousing community happen.