A new study based on the compilation of 43 datasets that consist of more than 11,000 couples suggests that perceived partner commitment is the top predictor of relationship satisfaction.
The study — published July 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science — was led by Samantha Joel, a psychology professor at Canada’s Western University; and Dr. Paul Eastwick, an associate professor at the University of California, Davis. They collaborated with seven dozen researchers.
The data for the study was collected longitudinally, meaning that researchers spoke to the same couples repeatedly at different points over time.
To determine the strongest predictors of relationship satisfaction, the researchers used “machine learning,” which the Massachusetts Institute of Technology defines as algorithms that “use statistics to find patterns in massive amounts of data.”
The study took into account several variables, including both partner’s perception of the relationship and both partners’ personality traits.
Scott Stanley, one of the collaborators on the study and research professor at the University of Denver, explained in a piece for the Institute for Family Studies that the study measured different variables such as affection, appreciation, conflict, empathy, aggression, sexual satisfaction and supportiveness.
The study also measured relationship characteristics such as whether or not couples live together, are married and how long they have been in a relationship among other characteristics.
Another category measured individual characteristics like anxiety, attachment, alcohol use, family history and demographic characteristics.
Perceived partner commitment was ranked as the top variable that explains the "variance for both present and future relationship satisfaction," according to Stanley.
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