How Relationships Begin Today

A recently published American study by Cacioppo and colleagues (2013) analysed responses from nearly 20,000 people who married between 2005 and 2012. They found that more than one-third of marriages in America now begin on-line.

online-loveAs for the satisfaction – In comparison with more traditional off-line meeting, the on-line couples expressed greater marital satisfaction and were slightly less likely to separate or divorce.

They conclude that online dating is becoming increasingly responsible for the shifts in institution of marriage. How much of this is for good – only time will decide.

Interesting link between stress and attachment

You probably have heard of the nature-nurture debate. In the last decade or so, researchers have come to better understand the field of epigenetics and below is an interesting example of this in the link between stress and attachment.rat-study

Research indicated that rats raised by mothers who groom and lick them are later better able to cope with stress than pups who were infrequently licked and groomed. What seems to happen is that the brains of well-licked baby rats have been changed.

Basically, there are receptors in the brain that mop up the stress hormone cortisol, thus reducing the effect of stress on the brain. The gene that codes for these receptors is modified by the mothers’ behaviour so that the less pampered pups ultimately have fewer cortisol receptors in their brain.

The bottom line is that the attachment behaviours of the mother appears to alter the young rats’ brains so they cope less well with stressful experience. And this also affects the way the young rats subsequently treat their own babies. Nurture modifies nature. Poor attachment experiences lead to negative effects.

One view on smoking

Why people cannot stop smoking? What’s so hard about it?


A 2012 USA study has now shown that ‘nicotine dependent’ participants, i.e. people addicted to smoking, are vulnerable to feeling a loss of self-control, to having an external locus of control. The study also found that smoking a cigarette had a double effect, improving mood and restoring a more external locus of control (i.e. increased self-control).

This goes some way to explaining why people smoke and why it is so hard to quit the habit. However, quitting the habit might be a little less daunting  if alternative improving-self-control strategies could be taught, especially those that elevate mood. Suggested strategies include physical exercise as this puts the person in control and the endorphins released would boost positive mood.

An internal locus of control is when a person feels in control of herself; she feels she can and do affect their own lives, make their own decisions and so on.

An external locus of control, on the other hand, is a person feels she doesn’t have control over her own life; so that it does not matter what she does or doesn’t do as it won’t affect them because outside forces and people have the power and make the decisions.