Public Release: 

After divorce happiness levels decrease and may never completely rebound

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

A study published in the December issue of Psychological Science finds divorce leaves a lasting effect on our satisfaction levels. A person's happiness level drops as she or he approaches divorce and gradually rebounds over time. But the level of satisfaction does not return to baseline (the level of satisfaction felt prior to the divorce.) Although some rebounding does occur in the years immediately following, there are lasting changes. "Instead people's satisfaction ended up .22 to .34 points lower than baseline levels," author Richard Lucas states.

To measure the long-term life changes before and after a divorce the author used data from an 18-year study of 30,000 Germans that examined their reactions. The surveys were conducted yearly using face-to-face interviews and respondents participated in at least one of the 18 waves. The author found that neither age nor sex moderated the effects of divorce on happiness and satisfaction. "Researchers, clinicians, and friends and family members of persons who have experienced such events should not assume that time naturally heals all wounds," Dr. Lucas concludes. "Instead, some people may never adapt to some life events, at least not without intervention."

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This study is published in the December issue of Psychological Science. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net

The flagship journal of the American Psychological Society, Psychological Science publishes authoritative articles of interest across all of psychological science, including brain and behavior, clinical science, cognition, learning and memory, social psychology, and developmental psychology.

Richard Lucas is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University. He conducts research on the causes of stability and change in happiness and subjective well-being and has published a number of papers on how people adapt to major life events. Dr. Lucas is available for media questions and interviews.

The American Psychological Society represents psychologists advocating science-based research in the public's interest. For more information, please visit www.psychologicalscience.org

Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with more than 600 academic and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 750 journals annually and, to date, has published close to 6,000 text and reference books, across a wide range of academic, medical, and professional subjects.

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