Predictive Validity of Mate Standards

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Carrie Bredow, Psychology

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Research is scarce regarding the circumstances under which implicit and explicit mate preferences predict people’s partnering behaviors. Whereas explicit preferences may operate in more deliberate contexts (Eastwick, Eagly, Finkel, & Johnson, 2011; McNulty & Olson, 2015), the details of implicit preferences’ situational functioning remain unclear, particularly in ongoing relationships, even though they may be important in early face-to-face interactions. The present study examines implicit and explicit mate preferences and their effect on present and future relational outcomes. Using Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) as our recruiting platform, unmarried individuals (n=197) completed an online series of three SC-IATs (Karpinski & Steinman, 2006), representing three major trait dimensions: physical attractiveness/vitality, warmth/trustworthiness, and status/resources. Participants also completed a questionnaire assessing their explicit mate standards, partner’s characteristics, and relationship evaluations. Participants were contacted 3 months later and invited to complete a questionnaire similar to that used at T1. Results revealed a weak positive correlation between implicit and explicit preferences for warmth/trustworthiness only at T1 (r=.18, p< .05) and no significant correlations were found for attractiveness/vitality and status/resources at either time point. Regression analyses showed predictive validity only for the warmth/trustworthiness dimension. Specifically, greater correspondence between people’s implicit preferences and their partner’s traits predicted greater relationship satisfaction at T1 (p< .05). Furthermore, greater correspondence between people’s explicit preferences and their partner’s traits predicted greater relationship satisfaction at T2, and this explicit preference-partner match was moderated by mate availability, such that preference-partner correspondence was more predictive for individuals with low perceived mate availability (p< .05). Perceived mate availability also moderated preference-partner match for status/resources: implicit preference-partner match was a better predictor of T1 relationship satisfaction among individuals with low than high mate availability (p< .05). For attractiveness/vitality dimension, perceived mate availability did not moderate preference-partner match.

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