The emotional distress is not as bad as predicted, college researchers find
TUESDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Getting kicked to the curb by the love of your life is actually far less emotionally devastating than most would predict.
That's the word from new research that found men and women who claim to be deeply in love are the worst at making accurate predictions about a possible break-up and vastly overestimate their potential despair.
"We're not saying, by any stretch of the imagination, that breaking up is a good time, or that people enjoy it -- a breakup is a distressing experience for most people, " explained the study's lead author, Paul W. Eastwick, a doctoral candidate in Northwestern University's department of psychology. "But what we're talking about is how upset people are going to be. And it turns out that it's not nearly as catastrophic as people predict."
The finding is published in the August issue of The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
To gauge the accuracy of pre-break-up forecasting, Eastwick teamed with Northwestern psychology department professor Eli Finkel, alongside researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Together, they followed the relationship experiences of 69 Northwestern University undergraduate freshmen over a nine-month period.
At the start of the study, all the participants were between the ages of 17 and 19, and all had been dating for at least two months. They then completed online questionnaires biweekly over a 38-week period to track their relationship status.
Every successive survey asked those still coupled up to characterize the depth of their current love and to predict their emotional state of mind two, four, eight, and 12 weeks after a theoretical split. All were also asked how soon they might enter into a new relationship following any break-up.
Freshmen who broke with a partner or were dropp
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