UMaine grad student seeks couples for happiness study

Posted Jan. 09, 2011, at 7:48 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 7:17 a.m.

Looking to get warmed up in time for Valentine’s Day? How about taking part, as a couple, in a research project designed to test happiness in marriage? Graduate student Laura Yoder at the University of Maine is looking for 50 married couples to participate in a three-part survey that correlates psychological personality type with self-reported satisfaction in marriage.

Participants will take the classic Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, a psychology standard that measures characteristics such as introversion, intuition, judgment and perception. Couples then will answer subjective questions, separately and anonymously, about the happiness of their marriage. The third part of the survey collects basic demographic data such as age, children, length of marriage and so forth.

Existing research indicates that couples whose personality types are “moderately similar” are more likely to feel happy in their marriages than those whose personality types are either identical or very different from each other, Yoder said. She expects her study will support those earlier findings.

Yoder, 31, is pursuing a master’s degree in human development. She and her husband, Sean, have been married — happily — for 12 years and have two young sons.

“This study is just something I am interested in personally,” she said. She acknowledged that the study design has some weaknesses, including the self-reported nature of the happiness survey and the fact that volunteer participants may pre-select for marital satisfaction.

“If they’re really unhappy in their marriages, they’re probably not going to want to participate in this study,” Yoder said.

Couples who help Yoder with her project will be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card to a local grocery store. Yoder may be contacted by e-mail at laura.yoder@umit.maine.edu.

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