When I first arrived at ISR, the Director, David Featherman, asked me what project I would most like to do. I told him that I thought that the best way to understand the adaptive functions of depression and grief would be to find a population of people who did not experience it and see what goes wrong in their lives. He smiled and said, "What if there was a large prospective study already conducted that was in the can and ready for analysis?" What could I say? I spent the next four years of my career mainly analyzing the data collected by Camile Wortman, Ron Kessler, Jim House and Jim Lepkowski. Thanks to a generous grant from NIA, I was able to engage lots of help from sophisticated statisticians and grief researchers, including Camille Wortman and Deborah Carr. The project generated many papers, a good book, and a website with all the data that is a great resource continuing to generate papers every year. However, the project did not answer my question.
Read the first article on the list to find out why.
Nesse, RM: An evolutionary framework for understanding grief. In Carr D, Nesse R, Wortman CB: Late Life Widowhood in the United States, Springer, 2005, pp. 195-226. " This chapter summarizes the results of my attempts to understand grief from an evolutionary perspective.
Nesse, RM Is grief really maladaptive? (Review of The Nature of Grief, by John Archer) Evolution and Human Behavior 29: 59-61, 2000.
Carr D, Nesse RM, Wortman CB: Late Life Widowhood in the United States, Springer, New York, NY, 2005. [Book�€”Link to Amazon]
Nesse, RM: Understanding late life widowhood: New directions in research, theory and practice. In Carr D, Nesse R, Wortman CB: Late Life Widowhood in the United States, Springer, 2005, pp. 3-18. (introduction to the book)
Brown, S. L., Nesse, R., Vinokur, A. D., & Smith, D. M. (2003). Providing Support may be More Beneficial than Receiving It: Results from a Prospective Study of Mortality. Psychological Science, 14, 320-327, 2003.
Brown, S. L., Nesse, R. M., House, J. S., & Utz, R. Religion and Emotional Compensation: Results from a Prospective Study of Widowhood. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30(9): 1165-1174, 2004.