Students Articles

In Defense of Pessimism: It Really Can Be a Good Thing

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

shutterstock_190562153Happiness and related experiences such as optimism and positive thinking get tons of good press. Americans, especially, seem to find it hard to imagine that anything but good feelings should rule the day. I’m guilty myself. I jump right into that fray whenever someone claims that getting married makes people happier – I critique their claim by examining the original research (and not just the press releases) and showing that there is no solid evidence that getting married makes people lastingly happier. (Links to my many articles and discussions of the topic are here.)

And yet…


Candidates as Wedding Dresses: Why Does Only This Ad Get Mocked?

Monday, October 20th, 2014

shutterstock_109777886Single women are not evenhanded when it comes to their political preferences. They vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Republicans have noticed, and in an attempt to attract more of them to the GOP, they created a series of ads. I wonder if they thought long and hard about what kind of message would appeal to single women voters. What they came up with was pure, unadulterated matrimania.

Brittany, a single woman trying on wedding dresses, is the star of the ad. The different dresses are described with the names of different candidates. Brittany loves “The Rick Scott” (Republican candidate) but her mom, the goat of the ad, urges her daughter to go for “The Charlie Crist” (the Democratic candidate) because she knows best. In the end, Brittany and her friends are popping champagne corks in celebration. It all worked out, we learn, because Brittany said yes to Rick Scott. (Different variations of the exact same ads are used in other races, simply substituting the names of the relevant candidates.)


What Would Happen If Every School Had a Leader Like This?

Friday, October 17th, 2014

shutterstock_218773501If you were a school teacher or principal or a college president, what do you think you could say to your students that might really matter?

There are probably lots of good answers to that question. I found one that struck me as particularly impressive in a New Yorker profile of the person who has been president of Bard College for 40 years, Leon Botstein.

Botstein visited the members of the Bard conservatory orchestra just as they were about to depart for a European tour. Here’s how writer Alice Gregory described what Botstein had to say:


World Mental Health Day: Scholarly and Personal Perspectives

Friday, October 10th, 2014

shutterstock_93242509October 10, 2014 is World Mental Health Day. Here at PsychCentral, bloggers have been invited to join the discussion. The theme this year is “living with schizophrenia.” I don’t have any expertise on that, and it is not relevant to the single-at-heart topic of this blog, so I am going to go off topic for the day. I want to point to two examples of ways of understanding schizophrenia and other mental health issues – the scholarly and the personal.


Are Married People Really Outnumbered? Does It Matter?

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

shutterstock_208650805Recently, Bloomberg News declared that for the first time, more than half of American adults are single – they are either divorced or widowed or they have always been single. In numbers, that amounts to 124.6 million people; in percentages, it is 50.2 percent. The report inspired an outpouring of “what does it all mean” opinion pieces.

Around the same time, the Census Bureau was releasing its annual “Facts for Features” report to mark Unmarried and Single Americans Week, September 21-27. That report claimed that 105 million people, or 44 percent of all American adults, are single.

So which is it? And does it matter?


Caring about Children and Their Future: Is It a Parent Thing?

Monday, September 29th, 2014

shutterstock_161985149In the lead-up to the Climate Change Summit, a famous actor (I don’t remember who; I’m not good with celebrities) was asked why he was so committed to the cause. He said it was because he had children and he cared about their future.

I’ve heard those kinds of comments repeatedly, and not just around the topic of climate change. With regard to just about any issue that unfolds over time, parents step forward to say that they care about it because of their kids.


Record Number of Americans Will Stay Single for Life

Friday, September 26th, 2014

shutterstock_150476522The most recent report from the Pew Research Center offered a remarkably important, data-based prediction:

“…when today’s young adults reach their mid-40s to mid-50s, a record high share (25%) is likely to have never been married.”

Think about that. There will be a time, in the not-too-distant future, when one out of every four American adults, at age 50, will have been single all their lives! That is a huge number.


To Your Health! 4 Ways Singles Have More to Celebrate

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

shutterstock_167694947The third full week in September is Unmarried and Single Americans Week. The Census Bureau has been marking the occasion every year with a special press release rounding up the latest facts and figures. Sadly, most news organizations just ignore the occasion. Those who do give it a nod, such as the Washington Post, mostly just reiterate the key points from the Census Bureau – for example, that 105 million Americans, 18 and older, are single (either divorced or widowed or always-single).

Over at Health.com, though, Amanda MacMillan did something more ambitious: She rounded up 7 empirically-documented ways in which being single affects your health. Here, according to the article, are 4 ways in which singles have more to celebrate, health-wise, than married people do:


Prejudice in the Bedroom: How Many Pillows Does a Single Person Need?

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

shutterstock_204548422Some societies, such as Finland, care deeply that every citizen has a respectable standard of living. A report on what should count as a decent minimum standard of living in Finland begins like this:

“In recent years, the level of basic security has dropped, and the income of those relying on basic benefits has clearly fallen behind that of the rest of the population though they should guarantee all citizens the right to receive essential subsistence and care, even if their income is insufficient for this or the household faces a situation creating a risk, such as unemployment…”

To try to determine what should count as a decent minimum standard of living, studies were conducted with focus groups and other discussion groups. Participants were asked to specify the level of goods that “facilitates a decent minimum standard of living in which physical, psychological, and social basic needs are met and that enables participation in society.”


The Power of Single People: 8 Ways Businesses Are Finally Recognizing It

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

shutterstock_134465504What is perhaps the best known marketing and communications company, JWT (previously J. Walter Thompson), just published a report about family that would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago.

Among the categories of family in the report were:

  • Kids optional
  • Solo living
  • Pets as family
  • Friends as family
  • Same-sex families

 

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Recent Comments
  • i01an: Great post Bella. Sadly the happiness movement targets those who are the most vulnerable. And then any sadness...
  • Alan: I think part of the problem is that people use “alone” and “single” interchangeably. I...
  • Bella DePaulo, Ph.D: Eric Weiner is wrong. Thanks for letting me know about his false claim. I’ll take a look...
  • Aurora Naisbitt: The Geography Of Bliss, By Eric Weiner Includes Data That Worldwide Married People Are More Stable...
  • kenny-boy: I like to reminded people that marriage is not necessary for a meaningful, long-term committed...
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