Garth Sundem

Brain Trust

Celebrity Marriage: Science Predicts Breakups

New York Times formula predicts length of celebrity marriage

Posted Mar 13, 2012

Today in the New York Times Science section, I wrote an equation with the columnist John Tierney about the extremely scientific topic of celebrity marriage. And it turns out (strangely enough and for whatever reason), based on a handful of simple factors you can, in fact, predict how long a celebrity marriage will last.

What are these factors that predict celebrity marriage duration? Well, it turns out they're the following:

•  The number of the wife's first five Google hits that show her in skimpy clothing

•  The couple's combined age when married

•  How long they dated before getting married

•  The ratio of the wife's mentions in the New York Times to her mentions in the National Enquirer

Interestingly, I checked out Google image hits and NYT/ENQ ratio on the husband's side and they weren't nearly as predictive. Simply, what he does matters much less than what she does in predicting the length of the marriage. (Tierney called experts to get their take on *why* the wife and not the man was so much more powerfully predictive. I have some other behavioral economic ideas in my book, Brain Trust. )

You'll have to punch onto the NYT article to get the full results, but as you'd expect Kate and Prince William have a much better chance than Khloe and Lamar (duh!). But there were a couple surprises in the bunch: Andy Roddick and Brooklyn Decker are better than you'd expect (despite her Google image hits, she's stayed almost completely out of the tabloids); and Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise made it to five years as predicted...but have little chance of making it 15. Brangelina? It's good they didn't marry immediately (they would've had, like, no chance of sticking)—but now that they've dated for six years, they could marry and their chances would be much improved.



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