New Study Finds Childhood Photos Predict Marital Happiness

11/17/2011 09:02 am ET
  • Lisa Daily bestselling author & DAYTIME TV show Relationships Editor

Scientists say that it is possible to predict whose marriage will succeed or fail, based entirely
on pictures from your childhood from as young as age 5.

According to an article in the UK's Daily Mail, the study found that "Those with the brightest smiles are more than three times as likely to have a strong marriage than those who frown their way through family outings as a child or teenager."

The scientists from DePauw University in Indiana studied 650 adults aged 21-87, rating their photos for the brightness of their smiles from their final year of school.

The researchers then asked the volunteers about their marital history to study if one variable affected the other.

Their findings?

According to the Daily Mail article, "Those with the weakest smiles were more than three times as likely to have been through a divorce than those who beamed their way through their teenage years"

A second study, using photos taken when participants were as young as five years old, confirmed the results.

Smiling kids have a lower chance of divorce.


Researchers have several theories. One theory is that happy people tend to marry other happy people and they're, well, happier. Another theory is that happy people may be more likely to work through trouble in a relationship. And finally, some researchers theorize that happiness is actually contagious.

There is some research to back up the contagious happiness theory, found a study conducted by Nicholas Christakis, a professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School and James Fowler, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego. According to Fowler, "If a social contact is happy, it increases the likelihood that you are happy by 15 percent."

Fowler said, "A friend of a friend, or the friend of a spouse or a sibling, if they are happy, increases your chances by 10 percent."

And, according to their findings, even a friend thrice removed - a friend of a friend of a friend increases your happiness by 6%.

The lesson? Make sure you check out your sweetheart's childhood photo albums before things get serious. And if you're already involved with a childhood non-smiler, at the very least, surround yourself with happy people.

Hang around with a happy person right now :-) Follow me on twitter or read my dating advice blog