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People who don't want children (the Childfree)

Most demographic research on reproduction just distinguishes between parents and non-parents. But, there are many types of non-parents: (a) people who plan to become parents, (b) childless people who wanted children but could not have them, and (c) childfree people who choose not to have children. Although there are magazine articles, books, and subreddits for the childfree, it remains an understudied and stigmatized population. This new project with Dr. Jenna Watling Neal is among the first to use large, representative samples to estimate the prevalence of childfree-ness and to better understand who the childfree are. In our first study, focused on Michigan, we found that 27% of adults reported being childfree, but that they had the same satisfaction with life and same personality traits as anyone else.

Neal, J. W., and Neal, Z. P. (2021). Prevalence and characteristics of childfree adults in Michigan (USA). PLoS ONE, 16, e0252528. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0252528.

Couple's Shadow

Psychological Networks

Brain Sketch

The nodes in networks can often take many forms: people in social networks, places in transportation networks, or cities in urban networks. In "psychological networks" the nodes are variables (e.g., beliefs, symptoms, or traits), and the edges are the statistical associations (e.g., partial correlations) among them in a sample of people. This type of network has become popular to study in psychology, however this might not be a good idea:

  • There are already methods for studying statistical associations among a set of variables.

  • Metrics developed for social networks or flow networks may not make sense in this context.

  • The edges are estimated from non-network data, not directly observed.

But, one overarching problem for this kind of network is the boundary specification problem. A network's structure is known to be distorted if nodes are missing. Because there is no way for a psychological network to include all beliefs or all traits, it will always be distorted.

Neal, Z. P., and Neal, J. W. (In press). Out of bounds? The boundary specification problem for centrality in psychological networks. Psychological Methods. (pre-print available at https://psyarxiv.com/nz6k3)