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Robin Simon

Professor of Sociology

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Current Research »
Expertise
  • Social Relationships and Health
  • Parenthood and Happiness
  • Marriage and Mental and Physical Health
  • Gender, Emotion and Mental Health
  • Women and Depression
  • Romantic Relationships
Teaching
  • Principles of Sociology
  • Sociology of Emotion
  • Sociology of the Family
  • Sociology of Mental Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Identity and the Self
Selected Publications
  • ‘Sex, Anger and Depression’ in Social Forces (2010)
  • ‘Non-Marital Romantic Relationships and Mental Health in Early Adulthood: Does the Association Differ for Women and Men?’ in Journal of Health and Social Behavior (2010).
  • ‘The Joys of Parenthood, Reconsidered,’ in Contexts (2008). (Reprinted in a 2008 issue of the UTNE Reader and Psychology Today).
  • ‘Clarifying the Relationship Between Parenthood and Depression’ in Journal of Health and Social Behavior (2005).
Education
  • BA, University of Massachusetts
  • MA, PhD, Indiana University

Following the publication of her study, The Joys of Parenthood Reconsidered, Robin Simon was interviewed by media outlets across the country including Newsweek, CBS’ 60 Minutes, NBC’s Today Show, and NPR’s Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me. Her research revealed that adults with children are not happier than adults without children.

Most recently, Simon received nationwide attention for another study that revealed counterintuitive findings:  young men are more vulnerable than young women to the ups and downs of romantic relationships. She is currently studying the emotional benefits of marriage for functionally disabled adults, the emotional well-being of menopausal women and has a new study out on sex, anger and depression. She is working on a National Science Foundation funded project on cross-national variation in the impact of parenthood on happiness. Simon serves on the editorial boards of Social Psychology Quarterly and the Sociology of Mental Health.

Robin Simon says:

On men and romantic relationships…

“Our culture really assumes that romantic relationships are more important for women than men. But recent research suggests that no, it’s not. This represents a sea change in the culture and it’s a positive one. Young men today were raised in a different cultural milieu with two working parents and high divorce rates that make relationships more central to their identities. I think it’s a good thing that these relationships are important to young men. Roller coaster relationships were closely associated with depression in both genders and increased substance abuse among young men. Young men and women express their distress at a breakup differently. Women are more likely to feel depressed after a breakup, while men are more likely to have substance-abuse problems.”

On parenthood and happiness/depression…

“Having kids doesn’t make you happy. Sociologists find that as a group, parents in the United States experience depression and emotional distress more often than their childless adult counterparts. Parents of young children report far more depression, emotional distress, and other negative emotions than non-parents, and parents of grown children have no better well-being than adults who never had children. That last finding contradicts the conventional wisdom that empty-nest parents derive all the emotional rewards of parenthood because they’re done with the financially and psychologically taxing aspects of raising young kids. These research findings, of course, fly in the face of our cultural dogma that proclaims it impossible for people to achieve an emotionally fulfilling and healthy life unless they become parents. And that’s a problem, because the vast majority of American men and women eventually have children, yet conditions in our society make it nearly impossible for them to reap all the emotional benefits of doing so.”