Family Science 5: Research & Researchers in the Media in May 2024

Welcome to the Family Science 5, helping you catch up on some of the Family Science research and researchers featured in the media during May 2024.

NCFR member journal subscribers can access full text of journal articles through the NCFR website; you may be prompted to log in.

  1. The Los Angeles Times published a Q&A with member Benjamin R. Karney, Ph.D., about a new research report he coauthored for Rand Corporation examining 20 years of data on the effects of legalizing same-sex marriage. The 186-page report is the result of a year's worth of work analyzing 96 studies across a range of academic disciplines.

    "What I found most notable is that all of the studies drew the same conclusions: There was either no effect or beneficial effects on any outcome you could look at," Dr. Karney said. "That’s 20 years of research, 96 studies, and no harms.

    Dr. Karney also references the value of theories in Family Science and relationship science.
  2. The Providence Journal highlighted an upcoming study led by member Jessica Cless, Ph.D., on the effects partners have on each other's health.

    "Factors such as stress, coping strategies, and a person’s experiences in romantic relationships have been shown to affect positive health behaviors such as maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine," Dr. Cless said. "To understand the more nuanced effects that stress and relationship factors have on positive health behaviors, we will collect data from adult romantic partners to understand how stress and relational experiences in romantic relationships can predict positive health behaviors."

    Dr. Cless said she hopes to make an argument for considering health at the family level, rather than viewing health as solely at the individual level.
  3. The Guardian interviewed member Stephanie Coontz, M.A., about how weddings historically reinforced divisions among social classes, in a piece examining the ways people dissect others' wedding choices. For elites, marriage helped expand political and economic power; it was also difficult to marry into a different class.

    But, Coontz said, "[b]efore they became a tool of class exclusion, weddings were really about and at their best can still be about … bringing two different sets of communities or friendship networks together."
  4. interviewed member Jessica N. Fish, Ph.D., for a Family Science perspective on a viral video of children being surprised and confused as their mother explained the concept of "coming out" as an LGBTQ person.

    Dr. Fish spoke about "the importance of parents fostering an environment of curiosity and open conversation with children" to facilitate strong parent–child relationships and communication.

    "More and more young people are understanding themselves as LGBTQ at younger ages,” Dr. Fish said. “Starting that conversation early in a developmentally appropriate way opens the door for youth, young people, children and adolescents to feel comfortable and bringing those conversations to their parents.”
  5. PsyPost featured a new open-access article from NCFR's Journal of Marriage and Family — "The Asymmetric Effects of Improving and Declining Marital Satisfaction on Cognitive Function" — which looked at the association between marital satisfaction and cognitive function.

    According to the abstract: "Findings suggest that the negative impact of declining marital satisfaction on cognitive function outweighs the positive effects of improving marital satisfaction, especially among older adults. Reducing marital dissatisfaction and fostering healthy marital relationships are crucial strategies to promote the cognitive well-being of older adults.