Happy Teens Divorce More Often as Adults

The conclusions of a long-term cohort study recently showed that individuals who tend to be more energetic, happy and positive as teens are also more likely to go through a divorce later on in life.

It was also found that these people were not more likely than their peers to get married as adults, and have a good personal life. However, they did score higher on several other features, researchers say.

The scientists behind the study were able to find a clear connection between positive teen years and a sense of well-being in midlife.

Among the factors considered for such a conclusion were satisfaction with the workplace, frequency of contact with family and friends, and also engagement in leisure and pleasurable activities.

The investigation was led by psychologists from the University of Cambridge and the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Aging, in the United Kingdom. The birth cohort study began in 1946.

It was carried out on 2,776 individuals, who were tracked since they were 13 to 15 years old. At that time, their teachers rated them for levels of happiness, friendship and energy, PsychCentral reports.

Some of the factors considered were popularity with other children, levels of happiness, ease of making friends, and how much energy the students had. Participants' negative conduct was also rated.

For that purpose, the teachers surveyed factors such as restlessness, daydreaming, disobedience, lying, anxiety, fearfulness, diffidence, avoidance of attention and so on. Social class of origin, childhood intelligence and education were all compensated for.

Several decades later, it was found that those who were more happy overall as teens were more likely to divorce, but only because they were more willing to take on the risk of being single at that age.

This group was also 60 percent less likely to develop a mental illness. “The benefits to individuals, families and to society of good mental health, positive relationships and satisfying work are likely to be substantial,” Dr. Felicia Huppert explains.

“The findings support the view that even at this time of great financial hardship, policymakers should prioritize the well-being of our children so they have the best possible start in life,” the expert adds.

She holds an appointment as the director of the Well-being Institute at the University of Cambridge. The scientist was also one of the authors of a new paper detailing the findings.

“Most longitudinal studies focus on the negative impact of early mental problems, but the 1946 birth cohort also shows clear and very long-lasting positive consequences of mental well-being in childhood,” says Dr. Marcus Richards.

The expert, who is based at the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Aging, was a coauthor of the paper.

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