by Brian Tomasika
First written: 5 June 2014; last update: 5 June 2014

This page compiles findings of some studies on satisfaction of arranged marriages.

A 1982 study compared 25 couples in love marriages with 25 in arranged marriages. The love-marriage couples showed a decrease in love with longer marriage duration, while the arranged-marriage couples showed an increase with duration.b

In contrast, a 1990 study surveyed 586 women in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. It found that wives were more satisfied in love marriages, independent of the length of the marriage, and even controlling for other background variables.c

A 2005 study surveyed 45 people in arranged marriages in India to measure how important they felt different aspects of marriage were and how satisfied they were with those aspects. The results were compared with existing data from the United States on marriages of choice. Americans placed more importance on love and loyalty than Indians, but the groups showed no significant differences in satisfaction on those dimensions. On a scale measuring components of wellness, Americans scored higher on realistic beliefs, work, humor, and self-care, while Indians scored higher on spirituality, nutrition, and cultural identity; the populations did not differ on the "love" dimension of wellness. In aggregate, there were no significant differences in wellness, suggesting that differences in the factors largely balanced each other out. The study authors note that there may have been some confounding variables in this comparison and that further investigation is needed.d

A 2012 study by Pamela Regan and coauthors measured marital satisfaction, commitment, companionate love, and passionate love for 28 arranged-marriage and 30 love-marriage Indians living in the United States. No significant differences were found on any of the variables.e Regan notes that in many modern arranged marriages, the participants have "veto" power, which makes the arranged marriages studied here more of a hybrid. On the flip side, love-based marriages may also be heavily influenced by parental and peer approval.f

David R. Johnson and Lauren K. Bachan contend that the sample size of the study by Regan et al. was too small and hence lacked the statistical power to legitimately claim the absence of significant differences. As an analogy, they cite the "honeymoon effect" (a slight average decline in marital satisfaction with time), which has been well established in the marriage literature but which has an effect size small enough that if only 70 samples were taken (which is more than the 58 in the Regan et al. study), it would be unlikely to be detected. The authors suggest that most of the literature on satisfaction in arranged marriages has been plagued by inconsistent results, exacerbated by small sample sizes.g

  1. I originally wrote this content for Wikipedia's article, "Arranged marriage." It was all but removed by a later editor. Because I submitted this text to Wikipedia, it falls under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.  (back)
  2. Usha Gupta; Pushpa Singh (July 1982). "An exploratory study of love and liking and type of marriages". Indian Journal of Applied Psychology 19 (2): 92–97.  (back)
  3. Xu Xiaohe; Martin King Whyte (Aug., 1990). "Love Matches and Arranged Marriages: A Chinese Replication". Journal of Marriage and Family 52 (3): 709–722. doi:10.2307/352936.  (back)
  4. Jane E. Myers; Jayamala Madathil; Lynne R. Tingle (2005). "Marriage Satisfaction and Wellness in India and the United States: A Preliminary Comparison of Arranged Marriages and Marriages of Choice". Journal of Counseling & Development 83 (2): 183–190. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6678.2005.tb00595.x.  (back)
  5. Pamela C. Regan; Saloni Lakhanpal; Carlos Anguiano (June 2012). "Relationship Outcomes in Indian-American Love-Based and Arranged Marriages". Psychological Reports 110 (3): 915–924. doi:10.2466/21.02.07.PR0.110.3.915-924.  (back)
  6. Schoenberg, Nara (22 Aug. 2012). "A surprising new look at arranged marriages". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 5 June 2014.  (back)
  7. David R. Johnson; Lauren K. Bachan (Aug. 2013). "What can we learn from studies based on small sample sizes? Comment on Regan, Lakhanpal, and Anguiano (2012)". Psychological Reports 113 (1): 221–224. doi:10.2466/21.02.07.PR0.113x12z8.  (back)