Student Author(s)

Nicki Hames

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Carrie Bredow

Document Type


Event Date



Past research on mate standards has generally been built on the assumption that people’s mate standards are relatively stable over time, and that the criteria people report at one point in time should predict their future partnering behavior. However, very few studies have directly examined the temporal stability of standards and those that have have found that although standards are fairly stable overall, there appears to be notable variation in this stability (e.g., Zentner, 2005). The current study builds on this research by exploring factors that may help explain for whom and under what conditions mate standards are stable over time. A sample of 285 unmarried, heterosexuals (71.93% women; M age = 30.52) were recruited from college night courses, community organizations, and social media sites. Participants completed an initial online survey and three follow-up surveys at 9 to 10-month intervals. Although mate standards were moderately to strongly correlated across the four time points (reflecting rankorder stability; rs = .51-.74), t-tests revealed significant mean-level increases from T1 to T4 on all standard dimensions. Individual growth curve modeling showed that, on average, participants’ standards followed a positive linear trajectory, but that there was significant variability in this pattern. As hypothesized, individuals who were older reported more stable standards than younger people over 28 months with respect to rank-order and mean-level stability, however age did not have an effect on individual-level stability (i.e., the rate of change in standards over time was not significantly lower for older participants). No consistent gender differences in stability were found across any of the standard dimensions. Taken together, these results show that despite an overall pattern of stability, change did occur, especially among younger individuals. To the extent that younger individuals’ standards fluctuate over time, mate standards may be minimally useful in predicting their future partnering behavior.