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* This Greater Good section, Research Digests, offers short summaries of recent studies on happiness, empathy, compassion, and more. Quick to read, easy to digest—we review the research so you don’t have to! Subscribe to the Research Digests RSS feed to receive future digests.


Why You Should Know Your Partner’s Long-Term Goals

"The 'I Know You' and "You Know Me' Of Mutual Goal Knowledge in Partnerships: Differential Associations With Parntership Satisfaction and Sense of Closeness Over Time"

Riediger, M., Rauers, A. British Journal of Social Psychology, Vol.49 (3), September 2010, 647-56.

This study suggests that knowing your romantic partner’s long-term goals for life will make your relationship more satisfying over time. Each partner in a relationship reported their own personal goals and the goals they believed their partner held; they also took a survey measuring their relationship satisfaction and feelings of closeness toward their partner. Sixteen months later, the participants who were initially more aware of their partner’s goals were more satisfied with their relationship, even after the researchers controlled for their initial levels of satisfaction. At the same time, if a participant’s partner was aware of the participant’s own goals, the participant felt closer to their partner after 16 months. —Whitney Patterson

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Sleep Deprivation Leaves You Emotionally Isolated

"Emotional Expressiveness in Sleep-Deprived Healthy Adults."

Minkel, J., Htaik, O., Banks, S., & Dinges, D. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, Vol. 9 (1), January 2011, 5-14.

Sleep deprivation really can make us look like zombies: This study suggests that getting less sleep hinders our ability to convey emotions through our facial expressions. Study participants got either a full night of sleep (9-10 hours) or no sleep at all. Within the next few days, they were shown amusing and sad film clips. Though sleep-deprived participants reported feeling emotional responses to the clips just as strongly as well-rested participants, they were only half as likely to reflect those emotions through their facial expressions. Sleep, the researchers argue, is key to our social interactions, helping us communicate our emotions to others. —Bernie Wong

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The Academic Success of Immigrant Students

"Contributions to Variations in Academic Trajectories Amongst Recent Immigrant Youth"

Suárez-Orozco, C., Bang, H.J., Onaga, M. International Journal of Behavioral Development, Vol. 34 (6), November 2010, 500-510.

This study zeroed in on the factors linked to the academic success of students who immigrate to the United States. It followed students who had recently immigrated from Central America, China, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, or Mexico, tracking their progress over five years. Not surprisingly, it found that new immigrants face higher levels of poverty and under-resourced schools, which were associated with their lower academic performance when compared with native-born students. Students growing up in families with separated parents declined in academic performance over the five years. English proficiency, however, seemed to be the greatest predictor of academic improvement among immigrant students; as their English improved, so did their grades. —Anahid Modrek

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