New Psychology Study Addresses Divorce Predictive Factors

New Psychology Study Addresses Divorce Predictive Factors

By: M. Scott Gordon

Are there certain psychological factors that can help to predict whether an individual is likely to get divorced? We often consider different personality traits that might play a role in predicting divorce, as well as specific information about couples. Yet is there really a formula for making an educated guess about whether any given couple in Chicago is more likely than another to find that their marriage ends in divorce? Many researchers emphasize that “divorce rates are a complicated subject to study,” and “while the literature is muddy in a lot of places, a few themes have borne out in repeated studies.” A recent study discussed in CNN Health seeks to collate this research to provide some clear predictive factors about divorce.

The recent study was conducted by Justin Lehmiller, an associate professor of social psychology at Ball State University. What factors does it cite in helping us to consider the likelihood of divorce?

Ages of the Parties in the Marriage

The age of the parties in the marriage plays a significant role in predicting the likelihood of divorce. Generally speaking, people who get married when they are slightly older tend to have longer-lasting relationships. Conversely, couples who elect to get married when they are especially young tend to have a greater risk of getting divorced later in life.

Demographics and Divorce Prediction

Demographics also can help to predict the likelihood of divorce. More specifically, a person’s education level and religious background can play a major role in determining whether a person is likely to get divorced. If the parties in a marriage have a college education, there is a better chance that the marriage will last. Women who have a bachelor’s degree have an approximately 78 percent chance of staying married for 20 years, while women with only a high school education, comparatively, have a 41 percent chance of remaining married. Men with a bachelor’s degree have a 65 percent chance of remaining married, while men with only a high school education have a 47 percent chance of staying married after 20 years.

Individuals who identify as religious—without specificity for any particular religion—also have a higher likelihood of still being married after 20 years.

Emotional Instability

What the study describes as “neuroticism,” or a person’s emotional instability, also plays a role in predicting whether a marriage is likely to last. As you might imagine, individuals who have less emotional stability tend to be more sensitive about “perceived threats” and “to ruminate about them.” In addition, emotional instability is tied to “anxiety and depression orders,” which are commonly shown to predict the likelihood of divorce. In other words, spouses with anxiety and/or depression tend to have shorter marriages.

Infidelity within the Marriage

It should not come as a surprise, but the clearest predictive factor for divorce is infidelity. In short, when married couples have extramarital affairs, the relationship suffers and often ends in divorce.

Contact a Chicago Divorce Attorney

If you have questions about filing for divorce in Illinois, you should reach out to an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer to learn more about how we can assist with your case. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC today.