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The calculus of love

7:23am, February 25, 2004

From Seattle, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting

A mathematical model can predict whether a marriage will end in divorce, report researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle. Psychologist John Gottman tracked hundreds of couples as they discussed contentious issues such as sex and finances in videotaped 15-minute conversations. Together with mathematician James Murray and other colleagues, Gottman created a set of equations that takes into account partners' overall outlook on life, persuadability and the extent to which they let their significant other's compliments or snide digs affect them. The researchers interpreted the outputs of the equations as measures of matrimonial health.

Four years after the tapings, Murray and Gottman revisited the couples to see which marriages had lasted. They found that in 94 percent of cases, on the basis of a single interview, they had correctly predicted whether a couple was he

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