NEWS

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February 14, 2006

Cupid scores in study on love, happiness

Though giving chocolates and flowers has become a Valentine’s cliché, giving yourself to someone else you love may not be, and it can actually make both of you happier.

A new study out of the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago reports a link between happiness in marriage and altruistic love.

Subjects in NORC’s General Social Survey (GSS) were asked to rate their agreement with statements on altruistic love. Some examples of survey questions included “I’d rather suffer myself than let the one I love suffer,” “I’m willing to sacrifice my own wishes to let the one I love achieve his or hers,” and “I cannot be happy unless I place the one I love’s happiness before my own.”

While a large majority of subjects agreed or strongly agreed with the prompts, researchers also found a correlation between the degrees of agreement to levels of self-reported happiness in respondents’ marriages.

Half of those people who gave the lowest endorsements of the survey’s statements rated their marriage as “very happy.” However, 67 percent of those who most highly agreed with altruistic statements rated their marriages as “very happy,” according to a press release from the U of C News Office.

“I’ll say I put my wife’s interests ahead of mine,” said Tom Smith, director of the GSS, in an interview with WebMD. “Well, she appreciates that and she does the same back to me, and it strengthens the relationship and it leads to a happier marriage. So, I think that’s the mechanism.”