UCL News


UCL researcher exposes damaging impact of relationship advice books

1 May 2003

New research published today will show that many best-selling relationship manuals are bad for your emotional well-being.

The study by Dr Petra Boynton from the department of Primary Care and Population Sciences at UCL, evaluated popular advice books such as 'The Rules', to assess the quality of the information they provide.

Among other things, the research revealed:

  • Many books encourage readers to lie
  • Some cause readers to blame themselves for their problems
  • They often advise against seeking help outside the pages of the book itself
  • Books often cause couples to view each other as drastically different thus making communication worse in couples with relationship difficulties
  • Authors are often not adequately qualified for the advice they are giving

Dr Boynton said:
"Although many relationship books begin in a positive way telling the reader they are worthy and attractive, very soon their content encourages readers to lie within relationships. As an agony aunt I realise how hard it is to give advice, and how difficult it is to find relationship advice books that will help, not harm readers. The main advice anyone can give about relationships is to work on your own self-confidence first. If you feel you are worth being with, it's far more likely other people will agree with you. Because you're worth it you need to pick relationship advice that values you as a person."

Further information:

Dr. Petra Boynton is a lecturer at University College London, specialising in research on sex and relationships. She is also the sex editor at Men's Health magazine, and the Agony Aunt at the teenage website mykindaplace.com.

To arrange an interview please contact: Dr Petra Boynton on 07967 212925 (mobile).