Your DNA is not a blueprint. Day by day, week by week, your genes are in a conversation with your surroundings. Your neighbors, your family, your feelings of loneliness: They don’t just get under your skin, they get into the control rooms of your cells.
“First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.
Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.”
So they gathered 156 middle-aged couples who had been married a long time. Every five years, these couples came to the lab and the researchers watched them interact and resolve arguments (while monitoring different physiological markers):
"When we started, we were convinced that it was all going to be about regulating the husband’s [emotional] temperature because men tend to get uncomfortable with conflict and want to solve it quickly. That was our hunch, but it turned out to be just the opposite. Couples who seemed to get happier over the 20-year study were those who could regulate the wife’s emotions." 
The interesting thing was that it didn’t matter how quickly the husband cooled down after an argument, but it made a lot of difference how quickly the wife cooled down.
So is this a gender thing? Levenson isn’t certain that the results indicate gender differences. The BIG caveat is that this is only a group of 156 couples (of a particular place and generation, with particular educational, ethnic, and religious backgrounds):
"In these groups there tends to be a confounding of gender with power. So in many of these marriages the husband has more power. In the older group they may have that because they’re the one who is more likely to have had a career.
And so we’re often not sure with these kinds of findings whether it has to do with women or it has to do with the person in the relationship who has less power.”
Levenson has also done research with same-sex couples (some of the only studies of this kind). In male/male and female/female couples, he noticed a similar pattern where the more powerful person ended up looking like the male in heterosexual relationships. Power and the desire to change a relationship were more powerful factors than a person’s gender.
The person with less power tends to want more change in the relationship. They tend to be more frustrated and less satisfied when the issues they raise aren’t resolved. ”It would be quite reasonable to think that the less powerful person would be the one for whom cooling down would be more critical,” he explains.
If you’re interested in exploring something exciting (but also a little scary, y’know?) — and are thinking about grad school, we now have a new search tool to help you look through the 600 degree programs across the 10 University of California campuses.
Oh great — yeah, we haven’t posted a lot of archaeology or anthropology work and are hoping to cover those subjects more. We’ll start digging around for some research in those areas (and see what UCLA is working on).
If there are any UC affiliated researchers (undergrad, grad, post-doc, faculty, staff) out of there: feel free to share what you’re working on. You can send us some info or a link through the submit or ask page.
You got it! More UC Santa Barbara research to come!
In the meantime, here’s a photo from UCSB’s living lab, Sedgwick Reserve — where researchers are studying a number of things, large and small (from archaeology to botany, microbiology to geology, environmental science to zoology)…