// published on Ars Technica // visit site
Newlyweds tend to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to their outlook about marriage. But with up to half of all marriages in the US ending in divorce, most freshly minted couples would probably be interested to know how their partnership will end up. A new study in Science offers some insight: a newlywed’s subconscious feelings can tell a lot about how happy their marriage will be over the long term.
Psychologists contend that we have two layers of feelings. The first, called a "conscious attitude," is what we generally think of when it comes to our innermost thoughts; it’s what you’d tell a close friend or confess in a diary. But we have another, deeper level of feelings as well. Psychologists refer to this as an "automatic attitude,” because it’s generally not something we are aware of. You know those movies in which someone’s deepest, darkest self is finally revealed to them—and it often isn’t pretty? That’s their automatic attitude. These subconscious feelings are too deep seated for a person to access—and therefore are relatively impervious to bias—but they likely play a large role in how we act and how we perceive the world.
After rounding up more than 100 newlywed couples in Tennessee, the researchers assessed each of these types of attitudes the couples held about their partners. They tested the 270 participants’ feelings when the study began, then again every six months for four years. First, to measure their conscious attitudes, each partner was asked to rate their marriage in terms of 15 pairs of words like “good” and “bad” and “satisfied” and “dissatisfied.”