Article

Single People

Bella M. DePaulo

in Psychology

ISBN: 9780199828340
Published online November 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0055
Single People

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For decades the proportion of single people in populations around the globe (especially in Western nations) has been growing, but scholars have focused overwhelmingly on marriage and romantic relationships. That is starting to change. Psychologists have been finding that single people are targets of stereotyping and discrimination (singlism) and that singlism is less often recognized than other “isms.” The most extensive research on singles is part of the literature on marriage and compares important qualities such as health and happiness among people of different marital statuses. The question of whether getting married is advantageous, and whether that differs for men versus women, is a contested one; different answers have prevailed at different times, and methodological challenges abound. Often, there is little difference between people who are currently married and those who have always been single; the disadvantage—when there is one—seems most often to characterize those who marry and then divorce. How is it possible for so many single people to fare so well psychologically when they do not have a marriage partner? The study of the interpersonal life shows that friends, family, social networks, and personal communities have significant roles in the lives of many single people. In some ways, singles do more to maintain a diversity of interpersonal ties than married people do. Work, education, and caregiving are also important components of single people’s lives. Research on particular subcategories of singles, such as emerging adults, midlife singles, and older singles, as well as singles with children and singles with no children, points to important ways in which single life differs across the life course and for singles with different roles and interests. The experience of single life is best understood in the cultural, demographic, and historical contexts; the variations and implications are substantial.

Article.  15603 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; Health Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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