Bella DePaulo Ph.D.


Spectrum Institute
research and policy
division of AASP


Early in 2003, Bella M. DePaulo, Chair of the Academic Advisory Board of AASP, and Wendy Morris, a graduate student in psychology at the University of Virginia, sent surveys to scholars at leading universities inviting them to tell us about their research on people who are single. They received responses from scholars just beginning to study singles, as well as from very eminent professors who have already made significant contributions to our understanding of singles. Some of these respondents provided references to their work, and gave AASP permission to post those references on this website. They appear below.

The survey was part of a comprehensive review of the scientific study of people who are single, as funded by the Marchionne Foundation. By the end of the year, Professor DePaulo plans to have several thousand references to post on this website. They will be arranged by topic (e.g., demographics, relationships, health and well-being, perceptions of singles, interactions between singles and couples, different types of singles).

Research Interests of Survey Respondents


Grace Blumberg, Professor of Law at University of California in Los Angeles, has published some articles on the topic of cohabitation.  (See reference section below).

Dain Borges, Associate Professor of History at the University of Chicago, has studied issues such as celibacy, cohabitation, and “illegitimacy” in his book, The Family in Bahia, Brazil, 1870-1945. (See reference section below.)  

Cynthia Bowman, Professor of Law at Northwestern University, is currently researching the legal rights of cohabitants, both gay and heterosexual.  Her past research has addressed the abolition of common law marriage.  This article is listed in the reference section (below).

Living Arrangements:

Frances Goldscheider, Professor of Sociology at Brown University, is currently looking at differences between married and single men and women and how these differences have changed over time.  Much of her past research has been on living arrangements, in which the chief question has been whether single people live alone or with relatives.  Professor Goldscheider has published almost 100 journal articles and several books. The books are listed in the reference section (below).

Single Parenting:

Margaret Nelson, Professor of Sociology at Middlebury College in Vermont, is currently writing a book about single mothers in Vermont, based on interviews with approximately 60 women.  She has written several articles concerning single mothers (see Reference section below).

Pamela Smock, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan, has published numerous articles on an array of topics relating to family patterns and change in the United States. These include cohabitation, the economic consequences of divorce for women, men, and children, absentee fatherhood, child support, single mother families, and union formation among single men.  (See Reference section below.)

Welfare Policy:

Eileen Boris, Professor of History and Women’s Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, has conducted research on poor, single mothers and welfare policy. (See Reference section below).

Joseph Swingle, Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College, has conducted research on welfare reform.  (See Reference section below).


Laura Carpenter, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Vanderbilt University, has analyzed survey data on sexual activity among middle-aged women and men, examined gender differences in reasons underlying sexual (in)activity for people without current partners (i.e., single/ unmarried people). In the future, she plans to conduct qualitative research on sexual attitudes and experiences of single women (including divorced/widowed) in middle age and later life. 

Gul Ozyegin, Associate Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, is researching gender and sexual cultures of young singles in Turkey and the United States.

Health Issues:

Jim Kulik, Professor of Psychology at the University of California in San Diego, has done some work that has compared married people to single people in terms of recovery from surgery.  This article is listed in the reference section (below).

Susan Trumbetta, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Vassar College, has conducted twin studies of civil (marital) status, examining the relationships between civil status and psychological diagnosis and investigating relationships between civil status and behaviors relevant to physical health.


Phil Shaver, Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Davis, has completed numerous studies about romantic attachment. He is currently working with Dory Schachner, a doctoral student, to begin thinking about attachment issues and singlehood. 


Duane Buhrmester, Professor of Psychology at The University of Texas in Dallas, has studied singles in a paper examining the changing significance of friendship across three phases of young adulthood.  This article is listed in the reference section (below). 

Historical Perspectives:

Christine Adams, Associate Professor of History at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, studied two single sisters in 18th century Bordeaux as part of her dissertation research.  Two publications resulted from this work (See Reference section below).

References to Studies of People Who Are Single, as Provided by Survey Respondents

Adams, C. (1996). A Choice Not to Wed?  Unmarried Women in Eighteenth-Century France.  Journal of Social History, 29, 883-894. 

Adams, C. (1997).  Devoted Companions or Surrogate Spouses?  Sibling Relations in Eighteenth-Century France.  In C. Adams, J. R. Censer, & L. J. Graham (Eds.), Visions and Revisions of Eighteenth-Century France.  Penn State Press.

Blumberg, G. (2001). The Regularization of Nonmarital Cohabitation:  Rights and Responsibilities in the American Welfare State.  Notre Dame Law Review, 76, 1265.

Blumberg, G. (1981). Cohabitation Without Marriage:  A Different Perspective. UCLA Law Review, 28, 1125.

Borges, D. (1992).  The Family in Bahia, Brazil, 1870-1945.  Stanford Press.

Boris, E. (1999).  When Work Is Slavery.  In Mink, G. (Ed.), Whose Welfare?  (pp. 36-55).  Cornell.

Bowman, C. G. (1997). A Feminist Proposal to Bring Back Common Law Marriage. Oregon Law Review, 75, 709.

Carbery, J., & Buhrmester, D. (1998).  The changing significance of friendship across three phases of young adulthood.  Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 15, 393-409. 

Goldscheider, F., & Goldscheider, C. (1999).  The Changing Transition to Adulthood: Leaving and Returning Home.  London: Sage Publishing Company.

Goldsheider, F. (Ed.) (1999). Special Issue on Household and Family Demography.  Demography, 32, 3.

Goldsheider, F., & Goldsheider, C. (1993).  Leaving Home Before Marriage: Ethnicity, Familism and Generational Relationships.  Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

Goldsheider, F., & Waite, L. (1991). New Families, No Families: The Transformation of the American Home.  Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 

Goldsheider, F., & Goldsheider, C. (Eds.). (1989).  Ethnicity and the New Family Econom).  Denver, CO: Westview Press.

Goldsheider, F., & Goldsheider, C. (1978). The Ethnic Factor in Family Structure and Mobility. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Company.                            

Holden, K. C., & Smock, P. J. (1991).  The economic costs of marital dissolution: Why do women bear a disproportionate cost?  Annual Review of Sociology, 17, 51-78.

Jencks, C., & Swingle, J. (2000).  Without a net:  Whom the new welfare law helps and hurts. The American Prospect, 11, 37-41.

Kulik, J. A. & Mahler, H. I. M.  (1989).  Social support and recovery from surgery.  Health Psychology, 8, 221-238.

Manning, W. D., & Smock, P. J. (2002).  First comes cohabitation and then comes marriage. Journal of Family Issues, 23, 1065-87.

Manning, W. D., & Smock, P. J. (1997).  Children's living arrangements in unmarried-mother families.  Journal of Family Issues, 18, 526-44.

Nelson, M. (2002). The commitment to self sufficiency: Rural single mothers talk about their reliance on welfare.  Journal Of Contemporary Ethnography, 31, 582-614.

Nelson, M. (2002).  Declaring welfare reform a success: The role of applied social science. Journal of Poverty, 6, 1-27.

Nelson, M. (2000). Single mothers and social support: The commitment to and retreat from Reciprocity.  Qualitative Sociology, 23, 291-318.

Smock, P. J. (2000). Cohabitation in the United States: An appraisal of research themes, findings, and implications. Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 1-20.

Smock, P. J. (1994).  Gender and the short-run economic consequences of marital disruption. Social Forces, 73, 243-62.

Smock, P. J. (1993).  The economic costs of marital disruption for young women over the past two decades.  Demography, 30, 353-371.

Smock, P. J. (1990).  Remarriage patterns of black and white women: Reassessing the role of educational attainment.  Demography, 27, 467-473.

Smock, P. J., & Gupta, S. (2002).  Cohabitation in contemporary North America. In A. Booth & A. C. Crouter (Eds.), Just Living Together: Implications for Children, Families, and Public Policy  (pp. 53-84). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence-Erlbaum.

Smock, P. J., & Manning, W. D. (1997).  Cohabiting partners' economic circumstances and marriage.  Demography, 34, 331-41.

Smock, P. J., Manning, W., & Gupta, S. (1999).  The effect of marriage and divorce on women's economic well-being.  American Sociological Review, 64,  794-812.

Sanchez, L., Manning, W., & Smock, P. (1998).  Sex-specialized or collaborative mate selection?  Union transitions among cohabitors.  Social Science Research, 27, 280-304.

Stewart, S., Manning, W., & Smock, P.J. (2003).  Union formation among men  the U.S.: Do absent children matter?  Journal of Marriage and the Family, 65, 90-104.


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