Being married or in a relationship reduces the level of cortisol, known as the stress hormone, according to a study by the Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. The research tested more than 500 master’s degree students and was published in the journal, Stress.
The study surveyed 348 men and 153 women with an average age of 27 at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. About 40 percent of the men and 53 percent of the women students were married or in a relationship.
During the study, the subjects played a series of computer tests that measured their economic potential, while saliva samples were taken to check levels of cortisol. In order to make the test even more “stressful,” each business student was told their score would have “a very huge impact on their professional future,” the authors of the study explained.
The study found cortisol concentrations increased in all student but females experienced a higher average increase than males.
"We found that unpaired individuals of both sexes had higher cortisol levels than married individuals," the researchers reported. "Although marriage can be pretty stressful, it should make it easier for people to handle other stressors in their lives -- what we found is that marriage has a dampening effect on cortisol responses to psychological stress, and that is very new."