Page 16-Thursday, May 3, 1979-The Michigan Daily
Singles' attitudes relaxed on life roles
By VICKI HENDERSON
An unmarried adult in 1957 was considered
immoral, selfish, or neurotic. But by 1976,
responses to this same question in two surveys
conducted by the Institute of Social Research
(ISR) were much more neutral, said Prof.
Elizabeth Douvan, a University psychologist.
The ISR studies surveyed 2,400 adults in 1957
and again in 1976, questioning three central life
roles: work, marriage and parenthood. The sur-
vey showed that attitudes toward unmarrieds
and those who choose not to have children have
become more neutral over the past 20 years. The
surveys also show that the family role is most
important in peoples lives.
RESPONDENTS TO the survey chose family
roles over work roles as more important in their
lives by a ratio of three to one when questioned
whether they would prefer to be seen by others
as a successful parent, spouse or worker.
Douvan said the dominance of family roles over
work is the same for males and females. Also,
the spouse role in the family dominated over the
role of parent by a three to two ratio.
There is more tolerance now toward those who
wish to remain single, said Douvan. But most
married people do want children. Although this
item was not included in the 1957 survey, the
response was positive and "very high" in 1976.
"It was at a ceiling in 1976," she said. "It
couldn't have been much different in 1957."
Single women are more negative towards
marriage than men, Douvan observed from
results of the surveys. Their attitude toward
marriage has declined since 1957. But, "the un-
married male in our culture still has not been
specialized with adequate social and interper-
sonal skills to create and maintain a reasonably
satisfying life with people on his own-that is,
without a wife to initiate and maintain friendship
and kinship ties."
BOTH SURVEYS illustrate a strong trend
toward increased happiness in marriage.
Douvan observed no decrease in feelings of
adequacy in the martial role.
The study also proved that although there is
still strain on the contemporary family, most
people place their "emotional chips there."
"Those relationships which allow self-expression
and self-affirmation can can survive conflict are
an enormous help in supplying comfort,
meaning, gratification and anchors for the self,"
Douvan explaiend. "People have not drastically
lost sight of that reality."
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