A first-of-its-kind study on relationships using “big data” was conducted by an international team of psychologists and researchers at Lancaster University. In mapping out data on relationship problems sourced from outside clinical settings, it became clear that men also experience emotional pain when the relationship they’re in, takes a turn for the worse. Moreover, it became apparent that more men tend to seek help from anonymous online relationship forums.
More importantly, the data analysis revealed that lack of communication was the leading cause of emotional upheavals in relationships.
Charlotte Entwistle, a PhD student at Lancaster University and the lead author of the study,, said that what people know about relationship problems comes mostly from clinical settings such as couples therapy and marriage counselling. Yet these are data representative of a subset of people who have the time and money to spend, as well as motivation to make their relationship work. According to Ms. Entwistle, their goals are to find out common relationship problems experienced by the general public, particularly those who are more prone to experience the most common type of relationship problem.
About the Data Analysis Performed by Researchers
Relationship problems posted by more than 184.000 people in an anonymous online forum were analyzed by the team in terms of demography and psychological characteristics. The purpose of which was to statistically determine the most common themes of the relationship issues posted at the site.
The analysis revealed that nearly 1 in every 5 people indicated difficulty in discussing problems with their partner, while 1 in every 8 people mentioned having trust issues in dealing with relationships.
Dr Ryan Boyd, a lecturer in Behavioral Analytics and the lead researcher of the study said that they also put to a test some of the most common concepts about gender differences, when it comes to relationships. This included the notion that men are less emotionally invested in relationships than women; or that men simply feel stigmatized by the idea of sharing their true feelings.
Yet the team’s findings revealed the contrary — men are more likely to discuss heartbreak significantly in online forums than women. The findings indicated that it may not be accurate to stereotype the male gender as less emotionally invested in their relationships.
Ms. Entwistle added that the mere fact that heartache was more commonly discussed by men indicated that at the least, men are as emotionally affected as women when it comes to relationship problems. Moreover, the researchers also noted there were more men than women, who sought help about a troubled relationship in online settings.
The significance of the team’s findings is that they created a more accurate picture with which to understand when and why thing go wrong in relationship problems. Aside from potentially helping the general public avoid the most common issues that affect the success of romantic connections, the authors suggest this can help destigmatize initiatives to seek help in working out relationships, even in online environments.