Research Says Young Adults Thinking About Marriage Commit Fewer “Wild Acts”?


Rachel Arocho, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at the Ohio State University recently published a study, together with her colleagues, about how young adults who anticipate matrimony in a few years commit fewer “wild” acts.

In other words, it’s not just the act of settling down that can straighten a person out – it’s the mere thought or expectation of marriage that sends a person to the straight and narrow!

The study by Ohio State University’s Human Development and Family Science department is published online in the Journal of Marriage and Family, with a print edition to follow later in the year.

Arocho, who served as the lead researcher and author, said that people tend to act married even before they get hitched.

The mere thought of spending your life with another person made these respondents feel that they have to be responsible about their own lives first.

The research marked a vital observation in today’s generation, even though more and more people are opting to delay marriage and settling down with a family of their own.

Claire Kamp Dush, co-author of the study, an associate professor of Human Sciences and Sociology, and the chair of the Human Development and Family Sciences graduate program at the university, said that this research proved that marriage was still important in today’s generation, and that its status still held a sense of respectability.

She went on to say that “just the expectation of marriage” can make people rethink their behavior and strive to become more responsible.

The research used the National Longitudinal Survey of the Youth in 1997 data.

The survey followed 8,984 American young men and women who were born from 1980 – 1984, and were around 12 – 17 years of age during the first round of interviews in 1997.

They have been interviewed 16 times in the following years.

In the 2000 – 2001 leg of the survey, there were 7,057 respondents who were from 15 to 20 years old. These interviewees had been asked to provide an estimated percent chance of them getting married in the next five years.

Part of the survey was also asking whether the respondents had committed delinquent acts like theft, assault, destruction of property, or dealings with drugs.

In 2000, the average percent chance of marriage within five years, among the participants, was 43%. It saw a 5% increase in the following year.

In 2000, 1,492 respondents reported committing delinquent acts, but the number decreased by 219 the next year.

Although there was an obvious decline of involvement in such acts for those who anticipated earlier marriage, researchers didn’t find that expecting a later marriage influenced more criminal activities.

Kamp Dush said that the study implies that their respondents

think of marital expectations independently of their current participation in delinquency or crime

Arocho, meanwhile, said that there were many reasons why people who expect to get married slowly decrease their participation in criminal acts. It could be that these people want to be “marriage material” in order to find a partner.

Also, those with a good job and reputation have better chances of getting married. So, according to the study, thinking about getting married makes young individuals act responsibly and appropriately, and more like “adults”.

Rob Clark admin staff managing editor

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