The benefits of marriage

Sep 26, 2011

Marriage can potentially help reduce crime by enabling people to develop greater self-control, according to a new study examining changes in marital status, self-control and marijuana use between late adolescence and early adulthood.

The study by Dr. Walter Forrest, Senior Lecturer in at Monash University and Associate Professor Carter Hay, from Florida State University found that young marijuana users who went on to marry were less likely to have continued using the drug than those who remained single. 

The research also uncovered a key reason for the change was that those who married also experienced significant improvements in self-control.

“Self-control is one of the strongest predictors of differences between people in terms of their involvement in crime,” said Dr. Forrest. 

“People who avoid taking risks, can easily defer gratification, and have little trouble controlling their impulses are much less likely to commit a variety of offenses.

“That said, very little is known about how changes in self-control relate to changes in people’s involvement in crime over time.”

This latest study indicates that the link is due in part to the effects of marriage on self-control.

“Our study shows that improvements in a person’s level of self-control are related to changes in their involvement in crime over time. It also shows that marriage is a significant source of those improvements,” said Dr. Forrest.

The study was based on analyses of the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a nationally-representative survey of American and young adults.

Many criminologists have assumed that marriage helps reduce crime because married people feel they have more to lose by committing crime or because married people tend to think about how their spouses might react when deciding how to act in different situations.

Those who are married also spend less time in situations that might lead to crime or in the company of friends who might encourage them to commit crime. 

“Most people seem to develop greater self-control as they get older, but seem to experience the greatest increases, independently of the age at which they married,” said Dr. Forrest.

“Those increases in self-control, in part, explain why people are less likely to be involved in crime when they are married than when they are single.” 

Dr. Forrest said that helps contribute to the development of self-control because it provides new standards of behaviour as well as a reason to maintain those standards. 

“And, as any married man or women knows, couples are rarely shy about telling one another when they’ve failed to live up to those standards. We think that helps provide people with practice regulating their behaviour,” said Dr. Forrest.

The article titled Life-Course Transitions, Self-Control, and Desistance from is due to be published in the international journal Criminology and Criminal Justice early next year. The full report is available online.

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User comments : 20

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aaaaaaaaa
4.1 / 5 (10) Sep 26, 2011
Polygamy is having one wife too many,
and so is monogamy.
freethinking
1.7 / 5 (17) Sep 26, 2011
If marriage reduces crime, then why are democrats and progressives constantly trying to destroy it?
Skeptic_Heretic
4.1 / 5 (15) Sep 26, 2011
If marriage reduces crime, then why are democrats and progressives constantly trying to destroy it?

I think you meant to say, if marriage prevents crime, why are conservatives trying to prevent people from getting married?
Scientist_Steve
4.7 / 5 (3) Sep 26, 2011
Its not better self control, as much as being terrified of my wife.......... But I guess that still proves their point.
Skultch
4.2 / 5 (5) Sep 26, 2011
So, I'm not going to pay for the full paper. Sorry, but I still have a question and it's not in the abstract.

I'm a little fuzzy on the marijuana connection. Is it just the marriage correlation? I assume they compared that to unmarried people of the same age, because I'm sure usage goes down with age, anyway. Perhaps the people who were more predisposed (ready) for marriage are more likely to reduce their usage, anyway. Strange study.
freethinking
1.6 / 5 (13) Sep 26, 2011
SH progressives do everything to make marriage meaningless, why? A broken family is a great way for government to control the family.
Unfortuantely, many conservatives help progressives in this.
Skultch
2.7 / 5 (7) Sep 26, 2011
How is allowing family (a) their liberty reducing family (b)'s liberty? Does it make sense if (a)=WASP and (b)=gay? Bear and fox? Boy and priest? Neutron and neutrino? Ether and plasma?
BubbaRich
not rated yet Sep 27, 2011
Skultch: "independently of the age at which they married."

Yes, the direction of causality is always difficult to determine.

Why is this a strange study?
Skultch
4.2 / 5 (5) Sep 27, 2011
Skultch: "independently of the age at which they married."

Yes, the direction of causality is always difficult to determine.

Why is this a strange study?


Why even have the marijuana factor? It doesn't really add much to the self control explanation. Does it? Isn't there something better? Wouldn't alcohol use be even better? I feel like I'm missing the connection. I guess I just don't agree that the main reason people would quit MJ is their increased self control. I don't know anyone that wishes they would have more so they could quit. That's ridiculous.
Skultch
3 / 5 (4) Sep 27, 2011
NameIsNotNick & Mabus,

Care to explain your 1 ratings? I'm just here to learn. Enlighten me, please. Where do I have is so wrong? Your ratings are worthless without discussion. Do you have an argument that is better than mine, or are you coward homophobes?
Skultch
4 / 5 (4) Sep 27, 2011
IMO, the vast majority of MJ quitters do so because it diminishes their memory capacity, alters their mood undesirably, and is bad for their lungs, etc. It's more about a cognitive decision to improve physical and mental health since the drug is not physically addictive. Yes, starting a family or a good paying job might motivate those thoughts, but that's not the same thing this article is correlating, is it?
BubbaRich
1.3 / 5 (3) Sep 27, 2011
It is certainly as physically addictive as "crime," at least, which is the point of this paper. It sounds like you're reading a different paper, or at least reading a lot into it. In fact, the things you mention abour marijuana make it correlate perfectly to the other anti-social behaviors such as committing crimes. This paper isn't about physical addiction.
Nanobanano
4.2 / 5 (5) Sep 27, 2011
I should think it would be the other way around.

People with more self control are more likely to be married because they are less likely to offend their lover, therefore more likely to grow a relationship...

People who don't give a damn about anyone else and who lack self control are more likely to spend their lives alone or wandering from relationship to relationship, or repeated divorces.
Skultch
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 27, 2011
It is certainly as physically addictive as "crime," at least, which is the point of this paper.


That makes no sense to me. If it's just the reward that makes one repeat the action, then it's as physically addictive as O2 and sugar.

In fact, the things you mention abour marijuana make it correlate perfectly to the other anti-social behaviors such as committing crimes. This paper isn't about physical addiction.


You assume MJ use is antisocial. The opposite is also true, so no exclusivity.

I know the paper isn't about physical addiction. My point was that self control, while necessary for stopping usage, the lack of it isn't a good explanation of the beginning of the usage. The paper is implying (or using the premises) that youngsters 1) usually don't have self control, and that's a factor for beginning usage and 2) if they didn't have control, then obtained it, would stop usage for that fact alone.

I guess all I'm saying is that the correlation is very weak.
BubbaRich
1 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2011
BubbaRich
not rated yet Sep 27, 2011
That makes no sense to me. If it's just the reward that makes one repeat the action, then it's as physically addictive as O2 and sugar.

Yes, tho breathing correlates fairly poorly with behavior types.
I know the paper isn't about physical addiction. My point was that self control, while necessary for stopping usage, the lack of it isn't a good explanation of the beginning of the usage.

It certainly fits my anecdotal observations, that people tend to engage in these behaviors as a result of peer pressure, not as a result of an independent decision.
The paper is implying (or using the premises) that youngsters 1)usually don't have self control,

There's lots of psychological/neuropsychological research supporting that.
and that's a factor for beginning usage

see above
2)if they didn't have control, then obtained it, would stop usage for that fact alone.

Don't see that, but that's true if it's not physically addicting. As you say above.
Skultch
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 27, 2011
It certainly fits my anecdotal observations, that people tend to engage in these behaviors as a result of peer pressure, not as a result of an independent decision.


Not engage, begin. Maybe. Old people begin MJ usage. Young people continue usage for reasons other than the reasons for beginning. Also, and most importantly, even young people choose to use for the pure pleasure they have been told it will cause, alone.

You are still operating on the assumptive premise that MJ usage is "bad," "antisocial," and/or a decision only a mistake can bring. This is hardly the case, even for teenagers. I'd hate to see any teenager begin MJ use for mental development reasons, but I wouldn't stop a kid if his personal safety required it because he has no family and the only people taking care of him are his friends that happen to use. If not starting meant total social alienation in an impoverished, dangerous area, it was the correct choice.

But, we are severely digressing here
jonnyboy
1 / 5 (3) Oct 02, 2011
NameIsNotNick & Mabus,

Care to explain your 1 ratings? I'm just here to learn. Enlighten me, please. Where do I have is so wrong? Your ratings are worthless without discussion. Do you have an argument that is better than mine, or are you coward homophobes?


quit your whining! No one owes you anything yet alone an explanation for why they think you deserve a 1. Get a life.
jonnyboy
1 / 5 (2) Oct 02, 2011
I should think it would be the other way around.

People with more self control are more likely to be married because they are less likely to offend their lover, therefore more likely to grow a relationship...

People who don't give a damn about anyone else and who lack self control are more likely to spend their lives alone or wandering from relationship to relationship, or repeated divorces.


I don't agree with you often but when I do it's because you hit the nail right on the head!
Skultch
1 / 5 (1) Oct 03, 2011
NameIsNotNick & Mabus,

Care to explain your 1 ratings? I'm just here to learn. Enlighten me, please. Where do I have is so wrong? Your ratings are worthless without discussion. Do you have an argument that is better than mine, or are you coward homophobes?


quit your whining! No one owes you anything yet alone an explanation for why they think you deserve a 1. Get a life.


haha ironic. since a 1 rating without comment can best be described as whining

excaaauuuuuuse the hell out of me for wanting to learn