Article

A Mathematical Model of Sentimental Dynamics Accounting for Marital Dissolution

Departamento de Análisis Económico, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 03/2010; 5(3):e9881. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009881
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Marital dissolution is ubiquitous in western societies. It poses major scientific and sociological problems both in theoretical and therapeutic terms. Scholars and therapists agree on the existence of a sort of second law of thermodynamics for sentimental relationships. Effort is required to sustain them. Love is not enough.
Building on a simple version of the second law we use optimal control theory as a novel approach to model sentimental dynamics. Our analysis is consistent with sociological data. We show that, when both partners have similar emotional attributes, there is an optimal effort policy yielding a durable happy union. This policy is prey to structural destabilization resulting from a combination of two factors: there is an effort gap because the optimal policy always entails discomfort and there is a tendency to lower effort to non-sustaining levels due to the instability of the dynamics.
These mathematical facts implied by the model unveil an underlying mechanism that may explain couple disruption in real scenarios. Within this framework the apparent paradox that a union consistently planned to last forever will probably break up is explained as a mechanistic consequence of the second law.

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