Way too many people think that married people live longer. They think it is a fact. It is not. I have been debunking this for years, starting with Singled Out. Every time a new study comes out that is relevant to the myth of the long-living married people, I take a close look to see what it really says.
Claims that if only you get married, you will get happier, are ubiquitous. They are also wrong. There are embarrassing methodological flaws that sully many of the studies used as the basis for those claims. Some of the flaws are so fundamental, that any social scientist who does not recognize them should be run out of the field.
Over the course of many years writing about single life, I have found that readers are very interested in the experiences of single people in places beyond the U.S. So am I, but I don’t know nearly as much as I would like to. I have had some help with that from guest bloggers. Also, when relevant articles appear in the news, I blog about them.
When I wrote Singled Out, I was just beginning to learn about singles in the military. Since then, I have learned more about the topic, and now, most recently, about singles in the Foreign Service, thanks mostly to people who have written guest posts. There has also been some research about how singles fare in their post-military days.
Because of the prominent mention of people who are single-at-heart in the New York Times, I have been getting more inquiries than usual about what it means to be single-at-heart. Research on the concept is just beginning. Below are links to what I have written so far, and what I have learned from the first 1,200 people who took the single-at-heart survey.
In Singled Out, I devoted a chapter to debunking the myth that the children of single parents are doomed. I described various studies and showed how the results are exaggerated or misrepresented. I also reviewed studies inconsistent with the doom-and-gloom narrative; they, unfortunately, get little media attention.
New studies have been published since then, so I have continued to address the topic. There is also lots of panic around single parenting and some overwrought media stories and political proclamations. I’ve critiqued those, too.
In 2005, Wendy Morris and I were invited to write the target article, “Singles in society and in science,” for the journal Psychological Inquiry. This was my very first publication about singles. Ten commentaries were written by scholars in a variety of disciplines, and Wendy and I responded to those commentaries.This double-issue of the journal was the result.
In the 1990s, when I decided to go beyond just collecting clippings and observations about single life, and look into the state of the published research, I consulted the definitive sourcebook for social psychological research.
The Handbook of Social Psychology is quite prestigious. Just about every graduate student in social psychology consults it, and most professors have it on their bookshelf. It is updated periodically. The first set of volumes was published in 1954, then updated in 1969, then again in 1985, and still again in 1998, which was the most recent version available to me at the time.
I looked in every index of every volume for some indication that social psychologists had something to say about single life. There was nothing.
Discovering that my cherished academic discipline was so silent about single life was one of the many motivators for my own research efforts.
I still have all of the volumes of all of the editions I consulted at the time, including even the very hard-to-find 1954 volumes. I even have extras of some of them. So I just made some of them available for sale at Amazon.com, using my own name as the seller. If you know of anyone who may be interested in these social psychological classics, feel free to spread the word.
Yes, you read that correctly. The title of this post says that the cover you see is from the Korean translation of Singled Out (link to the English version is here), but the title on the cover is Singlism. I do have a book called Singlism (paper here; ebook here), but that’s not the book that got translated into Korean. I guess the deal with translations is that the translators (or the translation companies) get to choose the title.