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Marriage Makes People Happier in the Long Run

Update Date: Jun 03, 2012 07:27 PM EDT

Married people may be happier in the long run than those who aren't married, a new study found.

The study led by Michigan State University researchers has revealed that although matrimony does not make people happier than they were when they were single, it appears to protect against normal declines in happiness during adulthood.

"Our study suggests that people on average are happier than they would have been if they didn't get married," said Stevie C.Y. Yap, a researcher in MSU's Department of Psychology.

Yap, Ivana Anusic and Richard Lucas examined the data of thousands of participants in a long-running, national British survey to determine the effects of personality traits on major life events such as marriage, childbirth, unemployment and widowhood.

Surprisingly, the researchers discovered personality traits such as conscientiousness or extraversion do not help people deal with major events including losing a job, and having a baby.

"Past research has suggested that personality is important in how people react to important life events," Yap said. "But we found that there were no consistent effects of personality in how people react and adapt to these major events."

In general, participants who did not get married showed a gradual decline in happiness as the years passed.

But those who were married remained happy. It's not that marriage caused their satisfaction level to spike, Yap said, but instead kept it, at least, stable.

The study appears online in the Journal of Research in Personality. 

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