Divorce Decreases Satisfaction Levels

According to a recent study published in Psychological Science, divorce reduces life satisfaction levels. A person’s happiness level drops as he or she approaches divorce and gradually rebounds over time. However, the level never returns to the baseline that existed prior to the divorce. Rebounding does occur in the years immediately following, but there are lasting changes. Says Richard Lucas, author of the study, “people’s satisfaction ended up .22 to .34 points lower than baseline levels.”

To measure the long-term life changes before and after a divorce Lucas used data from an 18-year study of 30,000 Germans who examined their reactions. Surveys were conducted yearly using face-to-face interviews, and respondents participated in at least one of the 18 waves. Lucas 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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