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.
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.
Solo dwellers, we have our book! Eric Klinenberg’s book, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, will be published tomorrow. My advanced copy is already dog-eared. At Living Single, I explained why I think this book will become a social science classic, read by students, scholars, and smart readers everywhere for years to come. At my Single at Heart blog, I shared 12 of the surprising facts you can learn about living alone from Going Solo.
I need your help. I’ve been trying for years to explain what’s wrong with the cheater technique. That’s the one where researchers compare all single people (whether they want to be single or not) to only those married people who got married and stayed married (setting aside the nearly half who divorced, and all the widowed), rather than all of the people who ever got married. Based on that methodologically laughable approach, they then proclaim that if only you single people would get married, you would be happier, healthier, live longer, and (fill in your favorite bogus claim here), too.
“All Things Single” readers, I’m blogging to you first. My new book, Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matterse, and How to Stop It – written together with 28 other contributors – is now available. You can get it here at Amazon, though as I write this, Amazon has not yet added the description of the book. (They build book pages one or two sections at a time.) You can also get the paperback here, at the book’s own page, where the description does show up.
A post I wrote about the top 10 myths about single people has been featured since this morning at the top of the Living page at the Huffington Post. There are already 148 comments, which I have not even started reading yet. Just wanted to let you know in case you want to join the discussion. (You probably already know about the myths.) You can find the post here.