Begun in 1938 when Harvard University began following 268 undergraduate males, the longest longitudinal study of development in human history has been completed and the results are in. The study is unique in that it captures the first generation of men to have lived dramatically longer lives than those who came before them. The good news is men’s lives continue to evolve, changing and deepening in meaning even as they reach their tenth decade.
“The astonishing range of psychological, anthropological, and physical traits — ranging from personality type to IQ to drinking habits to family relationships to ‘hanging length of his scrotum’ — indicates just how exhaustive and quantifiable the research data has become.”
Abuse of alcohol was rated as the number one risk factor for unhappiness and illness, increasing the likelihood of experiencing depression and neurosis. It may come as no surprise that positive relationships were the greatest boon to a man: while it was possible to overcome a traumatic childhood, positive memories of youth were a source of life-long strength. With regard to sex life, one of the most interesting things the study discovered is that men of conservative political opinion end their sex lives nearly two decades earlier than liberal men.
In his Big Think interview, happiness expert Tal Ben Shahar has dedicated ample time to his research on how romantic relationships can promote—and prevent—happiness:
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