The Grant study is one of the longest running longitudinal studies of human development — an astonishing 75 years! In an effort to determine which factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing this study measures an astonishing range of psychological, anthropological and physical traits. Some of these traits range from personality type to IQ, drinking habits, family relationships and even the hanging length of scrotum! I love this study because it is so comprehensive and takes into account such a wide range of traits that may contribute to human happiness.
The findings are pretty interesting. The most destructive force to marriage was alcoholism, causing depression and divorce. There was little significance on happiness or income based on IQ over a certain point. Aging liberals have the most sex well in to their 80’s and the most conservative men stopped having sex at 68. There was no further exploration as to why. The article concludes, “Men who had warm childhood relationships with their mothers earned an average of $87,000 more a year than those whose mothers were uncaring. Men who had poor childhood relationships with their mothers were more likely to develop dementia when old. Warm childhood relationships with their fathers correlated with lower areas of adult anxiety, greater enjoyment on vacations and increased life satisfaction at age 75-whereas relationship with mother had no correlation with life satisfaction at 75.” These aspects of the study which have to do with attachment make a lot of sense to me. If one has a secure base early in life it is certainly easier to flourish as one moves through their life.
I love any research into what makes life better, richer, warmer and more interesting. The thing I love most about this study is what they concluded: “The seventy five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points to a straight forward five word conclusion: ‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’ ”
(Excerpts from the Atlantic article published in 2013 by Scott Stossel)