Dr. Carrie Bredow
Although past research has shown that there is considerable consensus in people’s standards for a long-term romantic partner, most researchers have assumed that people’s individual standards are of utmost importance in predicting their partnering behavior. But is this really the case? Despite evidence that greater correspondence between people’s mate standards and their partner’s characteristics is reliably associated with higher relationship quality, no one has examined the extent to which people’s standards simply reflect a common prototype of a prototypical “good partner”. Accordingly, our research examines (a) the extent to which people’s individual standards reflect a consensual standard prototype, and (b) whether the similarity between a person’s standards and his/her partner’s characteristics predict relationship satisfaction above and beyond the similarity between the “prototypical good partner” and the partner’s characteristics. To test these questions, 339 unmarried individuals were recruited from a variety of academic and nonacademic settings and completed an online questionnaire as well as a nine-month follow-up survey. Our results indicated that people’s individual standards were moderately to strongly correlated with the consensual prototype of a good partner (avg. r=.57). When examining the match between standards and people’s partner characteristics, we found that greater individual standard-partner match and greater prototype standard-partner match both independently predicted greater relationship quality. However, when the two variables were examined simultaneously, the match between people’s individual standards and partner characteristics, but not between their partner’s characteristics and the prototype, predicted their relationship commitment, ambivalence, and marital expectations. Interestingly, relationship satisfaction was simultaneously influenced by both variables – people experienced greater relationship satisfaction to the extent that they had a partner who met their own standards as well as reflected the prototypical “good partner.”
Repository citation: Dunn, Kara; Hames, Nicole; and Keen, Ivy, "Do Unique Mate Preferences Matter? Comparing the Predictive Validity of Individual Versus Consensual Standards for a Romantic Partner" (2014). 13th Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance (2014). Paper 181.
April 11, 2014. Copyright © 2014 Hope College, Holland, Michigan.