Grace Larson of Northwestern University studied divorce and breakups for years using longitudinal, wanted to study whether these research techniques were affecting participants.

Larson said that one concern they had was that the studies could be harming participants. At first glance, it might seem like repeatedly reminding participants that they had just broken up - and asking them to describe the breakup over and over - might delay recovery.

The researchers discussed with participants possible downsides to participating in the study, such as emotional distress, rather than benefits. They were surprised to find the opposite effect.

The study is one of the first to look at whether the methods used in typical observational studies of well-being and coping can in and of themselves affect well-being.

The researchers do not yet know exactly which aspects of the study caused these changes but they suspect it relates to participants thinking about their breakups from a distanced perspective.

Larson recognizes that most people experiencing recent breakups will not have the option of participating in a scientific study but suggests finding other ways to regularly reflect on the recovery progress.

“The recovery of a clear and independent self-concept seems to be a big force driving the positive effects of this study, so I would encourage a person who recently experienced a breakup to consider who he or she is, apart from the relationship,” Larson says.

The study is published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Latest News from Lifestyle News Desk