Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Carrie Bredow

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Past research on mate standards has generally focused on identifying people’s reported standards, with the assumption that these reports accurately predict later partnering behavior. However, only a handful of studies have examined this assumption directly, most of which have involved either speed-dating contexts where stated preferences do not appear to predict initial mating judgments (e.g., Eastwick & Finkel, 2008), or relational contexts where standard-partner consistency is assessed in already established relationships (e.g., Fletcher, Simpson, & Thomas, 2000). The goal of our research was to assess unmarried individuals’ previously reported (i.e., a priori) standards and investigate the conditions under which these standards predict the characteristics of the partners people choose in subsequently formed relationships. We used a sample of 79 unmarried adults to test our hypotheses that people would choose a mate who more closely matched their a priori standards when they had higher mate value and mate availability, reported being in a committed rather than casual relationship, and indicated higher current desire for marriage (i.e., marriage imminence) and standard salience. Our results indicated found that higher minimum standards for physical attractiveness and vitality did predict becoming involved with a partner who was higher in these traits. Also, as predicted, participants with higher standard salience were more likely than participants with a lower standard salience to enter a relationship with someone who more closely matched their a priori standards on status/resources, trustworthiness, and total mate standards. Contrary to our hypothesis, we found that people with lower mate availability were actually partnered with people who more closely reflected their standards for physical attractiveness. Mate value, relationship type, and marital imminence did not moderate any of the associations examined.