Results from the new Loving More survey
But in retrospect the questionnaire was not well designed (despite having 52 questions), some of the material on the paper response sheets went unused, and the response sheets themselves are now lost.
It was high time to do it again, better.
|Self-reported happiness among polys in the Loving More 2012 survey (LM) and in the general U.S. population (GSS).|
Jim gave a preliminary PowerPoint report on the project's results at Loving More's Poly Living conference in Philadelphia last February (2013). "This is the largest survey of the polyamory community ever conducted," he told a room of 45 people, with just over 4,000 self-identified poly respondents. The full results will not appear until they're published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. But among the preliminary findings:
● Polys continue to show much higher levels of education than average, though not as greatly so as in the 2000 results; this probably reflects the widening of the poly movement in the intervening 12 years.
● Polys are "slightly but significantly happier" than average Americans, especially women.
● Polys stay healthier than average as they grow older, "a very robust finding" statistically; "being poly is very good for you as you age." Jim said this trend is even more pronounced than the well-known tendency of married people to be healthier than aging singles (and the famous "marriage effect" tends to fall apart when you control for the fact that unhealthy people attract fewer potential marriage partners to begin with). You might wonder whether the health-and-happiness results merely reflect polys' high education levels, which correlate with health and happiness among people in general. But, says Darrell Cox, "We find very different drivers of health and happiness for the LM [Loving More] folks versus the general population."
● Not surprisingly polys have more sex, and with more people, than their peers, especially over age 50. Jim speculated that having more sex contributes to polys' better well-being. Darrell now says that a linear regression analysis has found signs that a cause-and-effect link runs in both directions here.
● Polys have been found to earn less than their equally well educated peers. Coincidentally or not, far more people in the LM survey said they have been discriminated against than Americans in general say they have been. However, I wonder if the wealth gap instead just reflects the difference between geeky independent thinkers and mainstream careerists. And Darrell notes, "Many have suggested that well-educated poly folks tend to be in the helping professions, where incomes are significantly less than in other professions or vocations."
Now, four months later, the survey authors have finally put out a public summary of some of what they've found, with lots of graphs. Read it here on the Loving More site (June 21, 2013). Academic publication of the whole thing still awaits.
[Loving More 2012] respondents were significantly more likely (28.5%) to report having experienced some form of discrimination compared to the general US population (5.5%) and more than twice as likely than African Americans within the US population (12.8%). These results were similarly significant when analyzed by gender and sexual behavioral orientation. Ambiguity about [whether people have] experienced discrimination is far more common among the LM population (18.4%) as compared to the general US population (0.13%)....
When the LM respondents were asked specifically about discrimination for being polyamorous, 25.8% answered “yes,” 53.4% answered “no,” and 20.8% answered “not sure.” Polyamorous women (28.9%) were significantly more likely to state that they had experienced discrimination for being polyamorous than were men (20.6%).
This study is only the first in a series the authors plan. In the discussion period after Jim's talk at Poly Living, several people challenged the wording of various questions and asked for more next time about poly-specific matters. Jim said the authors were constrained by their design of mostly using questions in the GSS. He said the 2012 survey was "only the first round," and that the three authors are eager to delve into new issues — such as degree of out-ness and relations with families of origin, the degrees of sexual satisfaction among multiple partners, getting to the root of "the [apparent] prophylactic effects of poly on the unmarried and divorced," religious beliefs, and perceptions of equality and fairness within poly relationships.
Jim asked for suggestions from the community. You can write to him at Jim(AT)affirmativeintimacy.com or to Derrell at derrell.cox(AT)ou.edu .