By Julie Steenhuysen
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Despite the laments of pining pop stars and sad sack poets, U.S. researchers now think breaking up may not be so hard to do.
"We underestimate our ability to survive heartbreak," said Eli Finkel, an assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern University, whose study appears online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
Finkel and colleague Paul Eastwick studied young lovers -- especially those who profess ardent affection -- to see if their predictions of devastation matched their actual angst when that love was lost.
"On average, people overestimate how distressed they will be following a breakup," Finkel said in a telephone interview.
The nine-month study involved college students who had been dating at least two months who filled out questionnaires every two weeks. They gathered data from 26 people -- 10 women and 16 men -- who broke up with their partners during the first six months of the study.
We love studies, experiments (if you know what we mean), and surveys of all kinds. That said, we prefer them to be significant. Asking 26 people if their feelings were hurt as badly after a break-up as they imagined is not really that science-y. This seems like something that should either be done with a massive sample (maybe 30 people) or kept to an individual basis. And maybe it makes sense that people aren’t that hurt. Breakups rarely occur in a vacuum, and typically if one person is unhappy then both are unhappy. Maybe it’s good for people to know that breakups aren’t really that terrible. It could help people end floundering relationships without feeling too badly. Which is pretty standard advice: “It’s just going to get harder to do the longer you wait.” This was a pretty worthless survey, and we’re all dumber for having read it. It is nice to know that students at Northwestern are bereft of emotional attachment. We’re thinking of going there for our next spring break – Cabo is played out.