Felicia Huppert, one of the authors of the paper and director of the Well-being Institute at the University of Cambridge.
Researchers expressed surprise that happy children divorced because prior research did not point to that. Huppert speculates that positive kids are more likely to eventually divorce because happy children are likely to be more confident and have more friends and family and are more likely to be supported.
The researchers used data from 2,776 teens that participated in a 1946 British birth cohort study.Teachers rated the children at ages 13 and 15 on whether they exhibited any of four different measures of happiness: “very popular with other children”; “unusually happy and contented”; “makes friends extremely easily”; and “extremely energetic, never tired.” Students were also rated for negative conduct (restlessness, daydreaming, disobedience, lying, etc) and emotional problems (anxiety, fearfulness, diffidence, avoidance of attention, etc).Researchers also adjusted for social class of origin, childhood intelligence and education.But teens who received two positive ratings were also significantly more likely to divorce than those with one or no positive ratings.
While 20.4 percent of this happiest group had divorced at some point (of those who had been married), 16.5 and 16.3 percent of those with one or no positive ratings divorced, respectively.
Researchers hypothesize that perhaps happier people have stronger self-esteem or self-efficacy and are therefore more willing and able to leave a bad marriage.