# Sentimental dynamics

May 18, 2010 4:02 AM Subscribe

*Yet soaring divorce rates and break ups of de facto relationships across Europe and the U.S. show these plans and ideals are failing.*

Divorces have been falling since the early 80s. (Ends at 2000, but text hits from Google indicate trend has continued since then.)

*Many scholars attribute the increasing rates of breakdown to economic forces and*

**changes in sexual divisions of labor**, but this does not fully explain the continuing rise in those rates.Was this study funded by the GOP?

The rest sounds like the kind of "model" that doesn't give any specifics on how to measure the variables and thus doesn't make any predictions (and is therefore not science).

posted by DU at 4:49 AM on May 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

DU, regarding that bit about soaring divorce rates, commenters pointed out the same disconnect you do, and that it's probably because marriage rates have been dropping even faster. From commenter "Puma", these two links: BBC: Marriage rates lowest since 1862. As for US marriage rates: The End of Marriage.

posted by fraula at 5:01 AM on May 18, 2010

*The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia publishes an annual report titled The State Of Our Unions which includes data on US marriage rates since 1960. From 1970 through 2008, the US marriage rate has declined from 76.5 to 37.4 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women [...]*.posted by fraula at 5:01 AM on May 18, 2010

The second law of thermodynamics applies to closed systems. Empirical data suggest that a heat source external to the system is one of the most common reasons marriages fail so I am a bit skeptical of a mathematical model that excludes this possibility.

posted by three blind mice at 5:10 AM on May 18, 2010 [18 favorites]

posted by three blind mice at 5:10 AM on May 18, 2010 [18 favorites]

*t it's probably because marriage rates have been dropping even faster.*

My quote also included "de facto relationships". I somehow doubt that intimate relationships have become any less popular, whether they are blessed by the state/church or not.

posted by DU at 5:16 AM on May 18, 2010

This researcher's assumption that he can mathematically model emotional, intimate relationships makes me seriously question whether he's ever been in one. I'm pretty sure telling your spouse that you're going to model your interaction based on the second law of thermodynamics would lead to an immediate loss of heat from that relationship.

True, but when you break up with your non-spouse significant other, that doesn't show up in divorce statistics, so the point that the divorce rate is falling slower than the marriage rate is still interesting.

posted by valkyryn at 6:07 AM on May 18, 2010

*I somehow doubt that intimate relationships have become any less popular, whether they are blessed by the state/church or not.*True, but when you break up with your non-spouse significant other, that doesn't show up in divorce statistics, so the point that the divorce rate is falling slower than the marriage rate is still interesting.

posted by valkyryn at 6:07 AM on May 18, 2010

OK OK has anyone noticed that some of the variables in the math seem to be indexed (or "primed") with a tiny heart, as in

I approve!

I once made the Prince symbol a parameter in a paper, but nobody seemed to notice.

posted by tss at 6:14 AM on May 18, 2010 [9 favorites]

*x*^{♥}?I approve!

I once made the Prince symbol a parameter in a paper, but nobody seemed to notice.

posted by tss at 6:14 AM on May 18, 2010 [9 favorites]

Hollywood did the math faster with

posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:12 AM on May 18, 2010

*The Seven Year Itch*(1955)!posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:12 AM on May 18, 2010

*I once made the Prince symbol a parameter in a paper, but nobody seemed to notice.*

"Carry 7 and we'll watch them fall

They stand in the way of math and we will derive them all"

posted by grubi at 7:13 AM on May 18, 2010 [5 favorites]

*I once made the Prince symbol a parameter in a paper, but nobody seemed to notice.*

You should be glad I wasn't one of the reviewers.

posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:23 AM on May 18, 2010

Worth noting that the work described here follows a path suggested by John Gottman -- I wrote about his work in Slate a while back, and a more skeptical take appeared there recently.

posted by escabeche at 7:35 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by escabeche at 7:35 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

You're not kidding, are you, Crabby?

posted by chrillsicka at 7:52 AM on May 18, 2010

posted by chrillsicka at 7:52 AM on May 18, 2010

*The mathematical model also implies that when no effort is put in the relationship can easily deteriorate.*

Do we really need a mathematical model to tell us that?

posted by too bad you're not me at 8:21 AM on May 18, 2010

*Hollywood did the math faster with The Seven Year Itch (1955)!*

Billy Wilder derail!

posted by shakespeherian at 8:39 AM on May 18, 2010

This is why we can't be together. You always try to work things out with math and you never listen to my emotional explanation! Why don't you work this out:

I=leaving you.

Can you figure that equation out?!

Can you?!

...it's not a one, that's an I.

IMAGINARY? HOW DARE YOU!!! [slap]

posted by fuq at 8:48 AM on May 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

I=leaving you.

Can you figure that equation out?!

Can you?!

...it's not a one, that's an I.

**an i...**IMAGINARY? HOW DARE YOU!!! [slap]

posted by fuq at 8:48 AM on May 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

*This researcher's assumption that he can mathematically model emotional, intimate relationships makes me seriously question whether he's ever been in one. I'm pretty sure telling your spouse that you're going to model your interaction based on the second law of thermodynamics would lead to an immediate loss of heat from that relationship.*

This is completely ridiculous. It's like saying that you can't possibly model the flight of a baseball through the air unless you're a world-class pitcher. Just because something is complex does not mean that we can not fruitfully approximate it.

posted by TypographicalError at 10:26 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

*You're not kidding, are you, Crabby?*

I'm not kidding that that's my initial, strong, knee-jerk reaction. I would hope that my strong commitment to intellectual honesty and scientific detachment would enable me to put aside that reaction and review the paper according to its scientific or mathematical merits.

posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:47 AM on May 18, 2010

Is this subliminal DeBeers marketing? It's not even close to Valentine's Day...

posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:48 AM on May 18, 2010

posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:48 AM on May 18, 2010

*This paper is dedicated to the unique long-standing sentimental equilibrium of Pepe Rey and Ana Simó.*

I take that to mean that he is in one.

posted by ikalliom at 11:00 AM on May 18, 2010

My ethnic stereopyism could understand a German doing this kind of study, but a

posted by IndigoJones at 2:05 PM on May 18, 2010

*Spaniard*?posted by IndigoJones at 2:05 PM on May 18, 2010

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posted by twoleftfeet at 4:06 AM on May 18, 2010