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Conceptualizing collegiate dating conflict

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Conceptualizing collegiate dating conflict a bioevolutionary approach
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by Alvin W. Lawrence, Jr.

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CONCEPTUALIZING COLLEGIATE DATING CONFLICT:
A BIOEVOLUTIONARY APPROACH

















By

ALVIN W. LAWRENCE, JR.


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank Dr. Martin Heesacker, my chairperson, for his support and

guidance throughout this process. His patience and flexibility were integral to my

completion of this project and I greatly appreciate the confidence he has had in me

throughout my years in the program.

I would also like to thank my committee members, Drs. Carolyn Tucker, Edward

Delgado-Romero, Peter Sherrard, and Robert Ziller for their time and effort in helping

me complete this project. I would like to express special appreciation to my clinical

supervisor for the last 16 months, Dr. Paul Schauble. He provided a mixture of challenge,

encouragement, and support that helped keep me energized through some of the more

trying times of this dissertation.

To Allison Crew, I am grateful for the love, support and understanding she has

given me throughout this process. I cannot express how much this has meant to me. I can

only express my love and appreciation in hopes that she understands. I could not have

asked for a better partner.

I would also like to express my love and appreciation to my family, who has been

a source of never-ending support throughout my education. I truly could not have made it

without them. Lastly, I would like to dedicate this work to my mother, Linda Lawton. My

life would be very different had I not had such a remarkable woman as my role model.

With her, I share this success.















TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

ACKN O W LEDGM EN TS ................................................................................... ii

A BSTRA CT.......................................................................................... ................................. v

CHAPTERS

1 IN TRODUCTION ......................................................................................................... 1

Purpose of the Dissertation.................. ........................................................... 7
Hypotheses...................................................................................... ............................. 9

2 REV IEW OF LITERA TURE .............................................................. ........................ 12

Buss's Bioevolutionary Theory................... ..................................................... 13
M ate Selection ..................................................... ............................................... 15
Attracting a M ate ............................................................................. ...................... 37
Conflict ..................................................................................................................... 48
Social Exchange Theory .......................... .......................... 58
Hom ans' Operant Psychology Approach ...................................... ...................... 59
Blau's Econom ic Approach........................................................... ...................... 63
Thibaut and Kelley's Theory of Interdependence......................... ...................... 66
Foa and Foa's Resource Theory ............................................................................. 71
W alster, Berscheid, and W alster's Equity Theory................................................. 73

3 M ETHOD ........................................................................................ ......................77

Study 1 ............................................................................................. .......................... 78
Study 2 ....................................................................................................................... 81
Analyses................................ ............................................................................... 84

4 RESULTS .............................................................................................. ...................89

Research Question ............................................................................ ...................... 94
Ancillary Analyses.................................................... .............................................. 96

5 DISCU SSION ........................................................ ................................................. 102

Results and Interpretations of Hypothesis Tests and Research Questions .............. 102


iii









Limitations and Recommendations for Future Research......................................... 106
Implications for Counseling.................. ...................................................... 108
Summary/Conclusions ................................ ....................................................... 110

APPENDIX A RATER'S ITEM LIST....................................................................112

APPENDIX B RATER'S TRAINING MATERIAL ...................................................119

APPENDIX C MULTIPLE CHOICE TESTS.......................... ............................145

APPENDIX D RATER'S SAMPLE ITEMS........................................................149

APPENDIX E SAMPLE ITEM RATINGS .....................................151

APPENDIX F STUDY 2 QUESTIONNAIRE......................... ....................... 153

APPENDIX G STUDY 1 THEORY-FIT SCORES FOR EACH ITEM ...................159


LIST OF REFERENCES................................ ............................. ......................... 161

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ........................... ....................................................... 169

















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

CONCEPTUALIZING COLLEGIATE DATING CONFLICT:
A BIOEVOLUTIONARY APPROACH

By

Alvin W. Lawrence Jr.

May, 2001


Chairman: Martin Heesacker, Ph.D.
Major Department: Psychology

The two studies reported in this dissertation evaluated Buss's bioevolutionary

theory. This evaluation involved both its ability to explain the sources of dating conflicts

experienced by collegians, as well as the degree to which it makes a unique contribution

in understanding dating conflict, over and above the contribution made by social

exchange theory. Social exchange theory is arguably the most viable alternative

explanation for understanding dating conflicts.

In the first of these two studies an 80-item instrument was developed using data

from a preliminary study. In the preliminary study, a sample of undergraduates listed the

problems they had experienced finding people to date and problems that they had with

people whom they actually dated.

Study 1 linked the items on the instrument to the two theories of interest, Buss's

bioevolutionary theory and social exchange theory. These data were then used in









combination with the data from Study 2, which included participants' reports regarding

problem frequency and importance, from a second sample of college students. These data

were analyzed to assess how much each theory accounted for participants' dating

problems, weighted by problem frequency and importance.

Support was found for the hypothesis that bioevolutionary theory would explain a

greater proportion of the variance in problem frequency and importance than social

exchange theory. Further analysis revealed that the superior ability of the bioevolutionary

theory to explain problem variance in the overall model was primarily due to its ability to

account for the problems reported by women participants. The methodological limitations

of these studies and the implications of these findings for practice and research are

discussed.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

The research to be reported evaluates the effectiveness of David Buss's (1994)

bioevolutionary theory of human mating behavior in understanding men's and women's

dating conflicts. Buss's (1994) theory proposes that human mating and courtship

behaviors, like many other behaviors, have been naturally selected over generations,

through evolution. From Buss's perspective, the reason people engage in particular

mating and courtship behaviors is that those behaviors have been successful in producing

offspring for their ancestors, who themselves reproduced and continued to pass these

behaviors onto succeeding generations. This work has the potential to enhance people's

understanding of their own sex as well as the other sex. This and related scholarship

holds the promise of greater consonance between the sexes, by understanding inter-sex

antipathies from the perspective of sex differentiated human reproductive strategies,

about which Buss and colleagues have theorized and collected data.

Inter-sex conflict has been a significant part of human history. What appears to

have changed over the years is where the blame" for that conflict has been placed. For

centuries that blame has rested with women, who were thought to be inferior to men.

Therefore, the inter-sex conflicts were viewed as their fault. The more recent answer to

this view has been feminism, which seeks to put women on a plane equal to men.

Feminism has offered an opposing (Firestone, 1970), but, I would argue, similarly flawed

view, that men are primarily to blame for inter-sex conflicts. The problem, according to

feminism-based perspectives, lies in traditional masculinity itself (Brooks, 1998). What is









offered here is a model in which neither sex is ascribed primary blame for inter-sex

conflict. Instead, this model posits that survival strategies that are specialized according

to sex sometimes naturally conflict, thus accounting for much of inter-sex conflict.

This research evaluates the utility of Buss's (1994) theory of human mating

behavior to explain, and predict difficulties experienced by college students in dating and

relationships. Buss's theory provides a less blame-laden and a scientifically more

satisfying explanation than the viewpoint that "men are bad" (see Brooks, 1998 for an

example of the male role blaming perspective).

It would constitute a misunderstanding of Buss's theory to view it as an excuse

for men's misdeeds or as a license for men to be able to do whatever they want. Rather, a

Buss-based approach should be viewed as an attempt to provide an understanding of the

origin of some of these conflictual, inter-sex behaviors, as well as an explanation of why

they have endured.

Buss's (1994) theory proposes that human mating and courtship behaviors have

been naturally selected over generations through evolution. According to this perspective,

the reason people engage in particular mating-relevant behaviors is because in the past,

these behaviors have resulted in offspring who themselves reproduced. That is, these

behaviors have survived because the genes of people exhibiting those behaviors have

been successfully passed on to future generations. Less effective reproduction-related

behaviors have declined because the genes of people who engaged in those behaviors

were less likely to survive to the present. At the heart of this explanatory approach is

recognition of the power of passing one's genes on to the next generation in shaping

human behavior, particularly mating behavior.









From Buss's perspective, the goal is the same for men and women, but the

effective strategies for achieving this goal differ. Though often unspoken and perhaps not

even consciously recognized, both sexes have the motive to increase the chances that they

will have offspring and that these offspring will survive to reproduce. Because a man can

impregnate more than one woman at a time, the male strategy with the highest survival

value, according to Buss (1994), is to father as many offspring as he can, in order to

increase the chance that one or more of them will survive to pass on his genes.

On the other hand, women typically have only one child at a time. Therefore,

women's best survival strategy is to maximize the chances of each child surviving,

according to Buss. A woman pursues this strategy by trying to "husband" and allocate as

many resources as she can to ensure the well being of her offspring. These resources can

include such things as an abundant food supply, safety, shelter, and social status.

In patriarchal cultures, such as the U.S. culture, these resources traditionally have

been disproportionately in the possession of men. Even before there were Western

cultures, Buss would argue that the demands of feeding and nurturing children often

reduced women's capabilities in garnering these offspring-relevant resources. It is

therefore in a woman's best interest, as far as gene survival is concerned, to secure the

resources of a male, especially the child's father, who, like the mother, has a vested

interest in that child. Ideally, she would want to have all of this particular man's resources

at her disposal. This, according to Buss, is in direct contrast with the man's strategy, as he

wants to conserve as many of his resources as possible to gain access to more women

who can produce more offspring. Thus, the conflict is born, according to Buss's analysis.









An example of the utility of Buss's perspective comes from an analysis of

research by Heesacker and Lawrence (1994) and Heesacker, Smith, & Lawrence,(1998),

in which differences were discovered in the frequency with which college men and

women desired specific behaviors from their romantic partners, in order to feel loved.

These behaviors were divided via factor analysis into four categories: (a) caring actions

(e.g., Cook a special meal for just the two of us.), (b) scripting (e.g. Say, "I'll always love

you."), (c) relationship support (e.g., Be a good listener to me.), and (d) sex (e.g., Initiate

sex.). Significant differences were found in three of these four factors. In order to feel

loved, women desired both relationship support and scripting behaviors more often than

men did. Men desired sexual behaviors more often than women did. There was no

significant difference in the frequency with which men and women desired behaviors in

the caring actions category.

This pattern of preferences is easily explained by Buss's theory, according to

which men would prefer sex more often than women would because more sex fits

directly into their reproductive strategy of producing numerous offspring. Women prefer

to receive more relationship support and scripting behaviors because they signal a higher

level of commitment of a partner to the relationship and thereby increase the chances of a

commitment of that male's resources to her and her offspring.

One way to evaluate the utility of the Buss approach is to compare it to older and

widely accepted theories of inter-sex conflict. Of the scientific theories that attempt to

explain these conflicts, social exchange theories are in all likelihood the most widely

accepted. There are several approaches to social exchange, each taking a slightly different

view of the decision-making process one undergoes during an exchange, the patterns of









exchange, and how conflict occurs within interpersonal relationships as a result of these

exchanges. Two of these social exchange approaches are equity theory and investment

theory.

Equity theory is concerned with fairness in interpersonal relationships and

consists of the following four propositions (Traupmann, Peterson, Utne, & Hatfield,

1981):

Proposition I: Individuals will try to maximize their outcomes (where outcomes equal

rewards minus punishments).

Proposition IIA: Groups of individuals can maximize collective reward by evolving

accepted systems for equity and will attempt to induce members to accept and adhere to

these systems.

Proposition I1B: Groups will generally reward members who treat others equitably and

will generally punish members who treat others inequitably.

Proposition III: When individuals find themselves participating in inequitable

relationships, they will become distressed. The more inequitable the relationship, the

more distress they will feel.

Proposition IV: Individuals who discover that they are in inequitable relationships will

attempt to eliminate their distress by restoring equity. The greater the inequity, the more

distress they will feel, and the harder they will try to restore equity.

The investment model suggests that "individuals will be more satisfied with their

relationships to the extent that they provide high rewards, involve low costs, and exceed

their comparison level, or expectations regarding the quality of close relationships"

(Rusbult, Johnson, & Morrow, 1986, p. 82). When these conditions are not met, however,









conflict is created within the relationship. Also, persons who invest larger amounts of

resources into a relationship are presumed to be more committed to the relationship

because they will incur greater costs if it ends. The investment size is the "magnitude and

importance of the resources that are attached to a relationship--resources that would

decline in value or be lost if the relationship were to end" (Rusbult, Martz, & Agnew,

1998, p. 359).

It is important to note that in a number of studies (Cate, Lloyd, Henton, &

Larson, 1982; Davidson, 1984; Hatfield, Traupmann, Sprecher, Utne, & Hay, 1985;

Rusbult, 1980; Walster, Walster, & Traupmann, 1977), social exchange theory has been

linked to relationship satisfaction as well as offering an explanation for relationship

conflict. For the purposes of this research however, this study and literature review will

focus exclusively on exchange theory's contribution to the conflict literature and not

address its connection to relationship satisfaction.

Returning to the research on desired loving behaviors (e.g., Heesacker &

Lawrence, 1994), some social exchange models also may explain significant portions of

variance in desired loving behaviors. However, each of them would have a difficult time

accounting for the sex differences in desired loving behaviors. The main reason is that

none of these theories make sex differentiated predictions. On the other hand, 6 of 10 of

the Scripting subscale items could be viewed as investment related (for example, "I love

you with all my heart and soul"). Likewise, three items in the Sex subscale and one in the

Relationship Support subscale could be viewed as related to the equity model. So, notions

related to theories of social exchange are reflected in item content, but not in factor

structure, nor do they readily provide explanations for the sex differences observed in the









desired loving behaviors research. Social exchange theory does not make sex-based

predictions regarding conflict. Parties in an exchange are considered to be basically equal

and can therefore assume any role in the conflict. Likewise, there are no sex-based

predictions regarding selecting or attracting partners. The Buss model, as indicated

earlier, not only is reflected in the item content, but also in the factor structure of the

measure, and provides explanations for the sex differences in the results.

Purpose of the Dissertation


The purpose of the two reported studies is to evaluate Buss's theory. This

evaluation involves both its ability to explain the sources of dating conflicts experienced

by collegians, as well as the degree to which it makes a unique contribution in

understanding mating difficulties, over and above the contributions made by social

exchange theory.

Preliminary Study: Problem Identification

Toward this end, a preliminary study (the problem identification study) was

conducted. The purpose of the study was to generate a list of the problems that college

students are experiencing while dating. This purpose was achieved by giving a sample of

undergraduates the opportunity to respond to a survey that asked them to list the

problems they have experienced finding people to date and to list problems that they have

had with people whom they have actually dated. After the responses were compiled and

redundant items removed, a list of 80 problems remained. These 80 items make up the

assessments that were used in Studies 1 and 2.

The goal of this preliminary, problem identification study was to generate items

for use in Studies 1 and 2. A comprehensive list of college dating problems was









unavailable in the literature that was reviewed, so it was necessary to create one. What

was needed was a list of problems that college students have experienced. Once this list

was developed, it could serve as the basis of a quantitative measure of the frequency of

these problems and how important they are to participants.

A sample of 88 undergraduates was recruited from a lower level psychology class

at the University of Florida during the Summer of 1996. For participating, the students

were given one extra credit point in the class. The average age of the participants was

18.7 years. Of the 88 students, 31 of them were male and 57 of them were female. 64

participants identified themselves as Caucasian, 5 as African-American, 6 as Asian, 10 as

Hispanic, and 3 as other. All participants indicated that they were heterosexual.

Participants were read the informed consent protocol. They were then asked to

write their answers to the following questions printed on a standard form: "I'm interested

in the difficulties people have been finding and selecting people today. Please list the

problems you have personally experienced finding and selecting people to date. You

may use the back of the sheet if necessary." Next, participants were instructed, "Now

please list the problems you have personally experienced with people you have actually

dated. You may use the back of this sheet, if necessary." To preserve anonymity, the

participants were instructed not to put their names on the form.

All of the responses were compiled into a master list with redundant items

removed. In order to shorten the instrument and thereby reduce the chances of fatigue

effects on participants, low frequency items were also removed. Such fatigue effects

would inflate error variance and reduce reliability on the measure. For the purposes of

reducing the number of items, "low frequency" was defined as items that were endorsed









by fewer than 4% of males or 4% of females, provided that the opposite sex did not also

endorse that item. These were items that were endorsed by only a single male participant

or only one or two female participants. The different cutoff point for males and females

maintained a similar ratio of dropped items to participants for the two sexes. The actual

endorsement cutoff percentage for men was 3.2% and for women was 3.5%. This strategy

takes into account the different sample sizes for males and females. As a result, the

number of items removed for males and females were roughly proportional to their

numbers in the samples. Of the 34 items that were removed, males generated 12 of them

and 22 were generated by females. The proportion of males and females in the sample

reflects the differential popularity of undergraduate psychology courses for males and

females at the University of Florida.

After the above-described reduction of items, the resulting instrument contained

33 different items for the first question (regarding problems finding people to date) and

47 different items for the second question (regarding conflicts in dating relationships). In

response to the first question, men generated 19 different items and women generated 29

different items. In response to the second question, men and women generated 29 and 45

different items, respectively. This group of items was used in the surveys conducted in

Studies 1 and 2.

Hypotheses


Study 1

Study 1 sought to link the items that were generated in the preliminary study to

the two theories of interest, Buss's bioevolutionary theory and social exchange theory.

Participants in this study attended a training session to ensure that they understood each









of the theories. Following that session, they rated each of the problems with respect to the

degree to which it could be explained by each theory. The scores of all of the raters were

averaged for each problem, creating three theory-fit scores for each problem, two for

bioevolutionary theory and one for social exchange theory, which indicate the degree to

which it can be explained by each theory. The reason for two theory-fit scores being

calculated for bioevolutionary theory is that Buss's theory makes sex-differentiated

predictions for areas of conflict. These data were used in combination with the data from

Study 2 to assess how much each theory accounts for the problems that college students

report most frequently and as being most important. The hypothesis tested in Study 1 was

that there would be a main effect for theory and that there would be neither a main effect

for sex of the rater nor an interaction effect between sex of the rater and theory on the

theory-fit scores.

Study 2

Study 2 assessed the frequency with which collegians experience these problems

and the level of importance that they place on the problems. The participants in this study

indicated, on a 5-point scale, how often each problem had happened to them and how

important each of the problems was to them. These data, when combined with the theory-

fit scores generated in Study 1, provided a quantitative measure of the extent to which

each of the theories accounted for the frequency of each of the problems, the importance

of each of the problems, and the interaction between frequency and importance of college

dating problems.

Buss's theory predicts that the problems that collegians most often experience and

those that they consider most important would mirror the sometimes-conflicting mating

strategies of each sex. According to Buss (1994) the problems that collegians find most






11


important will differ according to sex in the same way that mating strategies with the

highest survival rate for one's offspring will also differ according to sex.

The hypothesis tested in Study 2 is that the bioevolutionary coefficient resulting

from the interaction of problem frequency, problem importance and the Study 1 theory-fit

scores will be significantly greater than the comparable social exchange coefficient,

suggesting that bioevolutionary theory provides a more complete explanation for

collegiate dating problems than social exchange theory.














CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF LITERATURE


This chapter reviews relevant literature on the topics of bioevolutionary theory

and social exchange theory. These studies and resources were collected primarily via a

computerized literature search of the American Psychological Association's PsychInfo

database. The following terms were utilized in various combinations as search criteria:

"college," "dating," "problems," "relationship," "conflict," "social exchange," "equity

theory," "investment theory," "bioevolutionary," and "Buss."

Articles were selected for inclusion in this review because they met one of two

criteria: (a) they either explained or supported an important component of one of the two

theories of interest (bioevolutionary and social exchange) or (b) they described how

conflict occurs in relationships from the perspective of one of the two theories. Articles

that focused primarily or exclusively on relationship satisfaction were excluded. No

evidence was found in the literature to clearly link relationship conflict with relationship

satisfaction.

This review of literature is divided into two main parts, the first of which focuses

on an explanation of Buss's bioevolutionary theory. First, a general introduction to the

theory is given, followed by sections that explain (a) how mates are selected, (b) how

humans attract mates, and (c) causes of conflict. The second part of this literature review

focuses on social exchange theory. Five sub-sections follow that describe how decisions









are made and how conflict occurs from different perspectives that fall under the

conceptual umbrella of social exchange theory.

Buss's Bioevolutionary Theory


Buss's (1994) theory proposes that human mating and courtship behaviors have been

naturally selected over generations through evolution, the same way that other behaviors

have been naturally selected. Human ancestors had to develop strategies to deal with a

myriad of problems that threatened their survival. For example, they had to figure out

ways to get nourishment. Faced with many choices of things to eat, they had to decide

which ones were valuable nutrition sources and which ones offered no nutritional value,

or worse, were harmful or toxic. Through millions of years of evolution, people

developed taste buds that are sensitive to sugar and fat and respond negatively to things

that taste sour or bitter. People also solved the problem of extremes in heat and cold by

developing the ability to regulate their body temperatures by sweating and shivering.

These are examples of survival strategies.

Buss (1994) argued that human ancestors developed sexual strategies in much the

same way, to overcome various mating problems.

All of us descend from a long and unbroken line of ancestors who
competed successfully for desirable mates, attracted mates who were
reproductively valuable, retained mates long enough to reproduce, fended
of interested rivals, and solved the problems that could have impeded
reproductive success. We carry in us the sexual legacy of those success
stories. (Buss, 1994, pp. 5-6)

Buss's theory has its roots in the work of Charles Darwin and his theory of sexual

selection. According to Darwin (1859, 1871), sexual selection can take two forms. One

form has members of the same sex competing with each other and as a result, the winners

gain greater access to members of the opposite sex for reproduction. Examples of this









type of competition are bighorn sheep, whose rams clash heads in competition for

breeding rights, and lions, whose males will fight each other for possession of a pride.

The characteristics that lead to victory in these types of competition, strength, size, agility

and intelligence, for example, evolve because the victors mate more often than the losers,

and thus pass their genes on to more offspring.

In the second form of sexual selection, members of the opposite sex choose mates

based on preferences for characteristics that they themselves find attractive. Those

possessing the desirable characteristics mate more often and their genes survive whereas

those who lack those characteristics mate far less often, if at all, and their genes die out.

A common example of this form of selection occurs in the peacock. Over generations,

female peacocks peahenss) have shown a preference for males (peacocks) with large,

bright tail plumage. Peacocks who possessed this characteristic mated more often and

passed their genes to future generations. Those with small or dull plumes do not mate as

often and their genes, over time, perish. These two forms of sexual selection help to

explain mating behavior by identifying the processes by which evolutionary change can

occur, namely competition for a mate and preferences for a mate.

According to this perspective, the reason people engage in particular mating

relevant behaviors is because in the past, these behaviors have resulted in offspring who

themselves reproduced. That is, these behaviors have survived because the genes of

people exhibiting those behaviors have been passed on to future generations. Less

effective reproduction related behaviors have declined because the genes of people who

engaged in those behaviors were less likely to survive to the present.









All of human's sexual strategies are created to solve a specific problem of mating,

according to Buss's theory. They range from strategies for selecting a desirable mate to

defeating rivals for access to desirable mates, to attracting and keeping desirable mates.

Buss (1994) stated that each sexual strategy has an underlying psychological mechanism

(i.e., preference for a particular mate, feelings of love, sexual desire, or jealousy) which is

sensitive to cues from the outside world, such as physical features, signs of sexual

interest, or hints about potential infidelity. These mechanisms are also sensitive to cues

about ourselves, such as our ability to attract and retain a mate who is high in desirability.

Buss (1994) also noted that the term "sexual strategy" may be misleading in that it

may suggest conscious intent. These sexual strategies do not require conscious thought in

the same manner that our sweat glands do not require thought to regulate our body

temperature. Sweating is a "strategy" that we have developed to deal with a particular

problem and sexual strategies are no different. Buss further suggested that most human

sexual strategies are best carried out without conscious awareness in much the same way

as a person's typing speed would be slowed if he or she were to consciously focus on his

or her finger placement.

Mate Selection

Nowhere do people have an equal desire for all members of the opposite sex.

Everywhere there are preferences for some potential mates, whereas others are

considered less desirable. Buss suggested that human's sexual desires evolved in the

same manner as other preferences and desires. For example, human ancestors had to

solve the problem of deciding what food to eat. Faced with numerous choices of things to

eat (e.g., trees, grass, fruit insects, dirt, rocks, poisonous plants, various animals), one

must develop strategies for deciding which things to ingest. If people ate anything at









random, by chance some people would ingest healthy, nutritious foods and survive. On

the other hand, some would randomly ingest unhealthy or poisonous foods and die.

Human ancestors who had preferences for foods that were nutritious, or at least non-

toxic, survived to reproduce. Those preferences were passed on to their offspring and so

on. Our current food preferences reflect this idea. People tend to show a preference for

foods that are rich in fat, sugar, protein, and salt as well as an aversion to substances that

are bitter, sour and toxic (Rozin, 1976). These preferences helped solve a specific

problem of survival and we carry them today because they were adaptive for our

ancestors.

Characteristics that we prefer in mates serve similar adaptive purposes. Their

impact however is not linked as directly to people's survival as individuals. Ancestors,

who faced a myriad of challenges (hunting for meat, gathering fruits and berries, staying

warm, and protecting themselves from predatory animals and other hostile humans) had

to make wise choices when considering a mate. If one chose a mate who could not

deliver resources such as food and protection, lacked hunting skills, was lazy, had affairs,

was unhealthy, or abusive, it could threaten one's own survival and certainly reduce the

chances of reproducing successfully. On the other hand, if one chose a mate who

provided sufficient resources, was an effective hunter, was healthy, provided protection

and devoted time and effort to the family, one would be in a reproductively advantageous

position. "As a result of the powerful survival and reproductive advantages that were

reaped by those of our ancestors who chose a mate wisely, clear desires in a mate

evolved" (Buss, 1994, p. 7). Humans today, as descendants of those ancestors, carry

those same preferences.









A non-human example of this process involves the African village weaverbird

(Collias & Collias, 1970). When a male weaverbird notices a female in the vicinity of his

nest, he hangs upside-down from it flapping his wings to get her attention. The female

then approaches and enters the nest to examine it. She will poke around and otherwise

test the nest and materials for up to ten minutes. She may at any point decide that the nest

does not meet her standards and leave in search of another male. If the nest passes

inspection, she may choose to mate with him. A male whose nest is rejected by several

females might destroy it and build a new one. By exerting a preference for males who

construct sound, sturdy nests, the female weaverbird partially solves the problem of

protecting her future chicks. Her preferences have evolved because they provided a

reproductive advantage to her offspring when compared to offspring of females who

mated with males who built substandard nests. The offspring of the more selective

females, in turn, passed on to their offspring these same preferences of nesting.

Buss (1994) suggested that women, much like the weaverbird, prefer men with

desirable "nests." An ancestral woman who chose to mate with men who were impulsive,

unfaithful, or unable to sustain a relationship ended up raising her children alone without

the resources, assistance, and protection that another man would have provided. By

contrast, a woman who chose to mate with a man who was more willing to commit to her

and their offspring would be more likely to have children that survived. Over thousands

of generations, a preference for men who showed signs of willingness to commit evolved

in women in much the same way that preferences for males who build superior nests

evolved in weaverbirds. These preferences solve specific reproductive problems in the

same way that food preferences solve specific survival problems.









Buss (1994) suggests that in humans, women are more selective in their choice of

mates than men are because of their greater investment in the reproduction process.

One act of sexual intercourse, which requires minimal male investment,
can produce and obligatory and energy-consuming nine -month
investment by the woman that forecloses other mating opportunities.
Women then bear the exclusive burden of lactation, an investment that
may last as long as three or four years. (pp. 19-20)

Because our female ancestors risked enormous investment as a result of having

sex, evolution favored women who were highly selective about the males with whom

they chose to mate. Women who were less selective suffered costs such as lower

reproductive success and fewer offspring who survived to reproduce themselves.

Ancestral men, on the other hand, could leave a casual sexual relationship with minimal

investment or consequence, perhaps only a few hours of his time. His reproductive

success was very minimally affected, if at all. Ancestral women could also walk away

from these encounters, but if they got pregnant, would have to deal with the costs of that

decision for months and possibly years after that. Buss (1994) noted that modem birth

control methods have altered these costs somewhat by reducing the chances that a woman

will become pregnant. But he also noted that our sexual strategies developed over

millions of years to deal with certain adaptive problems and we still possess the

underlying psychology of those strategies today, although the environment has changed.

Women's preferences

According to Buss's theory, women would develop preferences for men who

possess characteristics that would increase their chances for reproductive success. In

order for preferences to develop, women must be able to detect differences between men.

Men can vary in a myriad of ways on a variety of attributes. However, evolution would

only develop preferences for those attributes that somehow granted a reproductive









advantage. Evolution favors women who prefer men who possess attributes that endow

benefits and who avoid men who possess attributes that impose costs. Each of these

attributes represents one component of a man's value to a woman as a mate and each of

her preferences is aimed at one component.

These preferences, however, tend to be dynamic and can vary between individual

women. A particular man may have different value as a mate to different women

depending on the individual circumstances of those women. For example, a man who is

willing and able to provide direct child care is more valuable to a woman who does not

have extended family living nearby than he is to one who has a number of relatives to

assist her. Since some of these characteristics change over time, women must also be able

to predict a man's potential to acquire the desired characteristics in the future.

One of the characteristics of men that women tend to hold important when

selecting a mate is economic capacity. Buss (1994) noted that in order for preferences for

a mate with resources to develop, three conditions would have to be met: (a) resources

would have to be accruable, defensible and controllable by men, (b) men would have to

differ from each other in their acquisitions and their willingness to invest those resources

in a woman and her children, and (c) the benefits of being with one man would have to

outweigh the benefits of being with several men. Buss noted that in humans, all three of

these conditions are easily met.

Early research by Hill (1945), Hudson & Henze (1969), and McGinnis (1958) has

shown that American women valued good financial prospects in a mate twice as much as

men did. In 1989, Buss found that American women still preferred good financial

prospects in a mate about twice as much as men did.









Kenrick, Sadalla, Groth, & Trost (1990) developed a system of measuring to what

degree men and women value certain characteristics in the opposite sex. The system was

based on percentiles and subjects indicated what percentile a potential spouse would have

to fall into in order to be acceptable. For example, a person in the 50'h percentile on a

characteristic would rank higher than 50% of the other people on that characteristic and

below 49% of the other people on that particular characteristic. American college women

indicated that a potential husband would have to minimally rank in the 70th percentile in

the category of earning capacity in order to be acceptable. American college men,

however, indicated that a potential wife need only minimally rank in the 40"' percentile

for earning capacity in order to be acceptable. These results are not limited to college

students. In a study of 1,111 personal ads placed in newspapers and magazines,

Wiederman (1993) found that females who placed ads sought financial resources roughly

eleven times as often as male advertisers did.

These preferences are not limited to American women, nor are they limited to

Western societies. Research (Buss, 1989b, and Buss et al., 1990) collected in thirty-seven

cultures also shows these patterns of preferences. Buss and his colleagues collected data

from cultures around the world on six continents and five islands. Subjects came from

populations that varied on many demographic and cultural characteristics (for example,

societies that practiced polygyny as well as those that were monogamous and countries in

which unmarried cohabitation was condoned as well as those in which it was denounced).

In all, data were collected from 10,047 individuals. Based on results from these studies,

Buss (1994) made the following statement regarding the importance women place on

financial resources when selecting a mate:









Women across all continents, all political systems (including socialism
and communism), all racial groups, all religious groups, and all systems of
mating (from intense polygyny to presumptive monogamy) place more
value than men on good financial prospects. Overall, women value
financial resources about 100 percent more than men do, or roughly twice
as much. (p.25)

There were variations between culture in the degree to which women's

preferences exceed men's for financial prospects, some more than twice as much (Japan)

and some less than twice as much (Netherlands). Despite these cultural differences in

degree, it was universally found that women desired financial resources in a marriage

partner more than men did (Buss et al., 1990).

Another characteristic that women consider when choosing a mate is social status.

Women desire men who occupy high positions in society because social status is a

universal cue to the control of resources. Studies of traditional hunter-gatherer societies

(Betzig, 1986) revealed that there are clearly defined status hierarchies in which

resources are readily available to those at the top of the hierarchy and trickle down slowly

to those at the bottom. These societies are our best guide to what conditions were like for

our early human ancestors. With this being the case, a man's rank in the social hierarchy,

his status, would be a powerful clue to his possession of resources. In fact, Betzig (1986)

found that in the 186 societies studied, high-status men invariably had greater wealth,

provided better nourishment for their children and had more wives than low-status men

did.

Studies of American women (Buss & Barnes, 1986; Hill, 1945; Hudson & Hanze,

1969; Langhorne & Secord, 1955; McGinnis, 1958) have revealed that they have a

preference for mates who have a high social status or a high-status profession, rating it

only slightly less important than good financial prospects. In a study of college students,









women listed status, prestige, rank, position, power, standing, and station as important

more frequently than men did in terms of choosing a mate (Langhome & Secord, 1955).

Buss and Schmitt (1993) found that women judge the likelihood of success in a

profession and the possession of a promising career to be highly desirable in a spouse.

They also placed great value on education and professional degrees in mates, both of

which tend to be linked to higher social status, and conversely indicated that a lack of

education was undesirable in a potential husband.

In Buss's (1989b) cross-cultural study, his research found that in the vast majority

of the thirty-seven cultures studied, women valued social status in a prospective mate

more than men did. Because social hierarchies are universal features among human

societies and resources tend to accumulate for those at the top of these hierarchies, one

way that ancestral women solved the problem of acquiring resources was to express a

preference for men who are high in status. The cross-cultural evidence seems to support

the evolutionary prediction that women will key into this cue for resource acquisition.

Worldwide, women prefer to marry up the social hierarchy. In humans' evolutionary

past, women who did so were better able to provide resources for themselves and their

children, giving them a reproductive advantage over women who did not.

Another characteristic that women use to select mates is age. Buss (1989b)

reported that in all thirty-seven cultures that were included in the study on choosing a

mate, women preferred men who were, on average, about three and a half years older

than they were. The smallest age difference was among French Canadian women, who

preferred men who were almost two years older. The largest difference was among

Iranian women, whose husbands were more than five years older than they were.









Worldwide, men averaged to be three years older than their brides were.

Buss (1994) suggested that one of the reasons that women prefer men who are

older is that their social status and access to resources both increase with age. This tends

to hold true in both Western and non-Western societies. For example, Jencks (1979)

found that American men who are thirty years old made about fourteen thousand dollars

more than men who were twenty. Men who were forty made seven thousand dollars more

than men who were thirty. A non-Western example can be found among the Tiwi tribe. In

this tribe, the oldest men possess the most power and social status and control the mating

system through a network of alliances. Hart and Pilling (1960) found that among the

Tiwi, men are typically at least thirty years old before they acquire enough social status to

acquire their first wife and rarely does a man acquire enough social status to have more

than one wife before the age of forty.

Buss noted that despite the fact that men's financial resources generally do not

peak until he is in his forties or fifties, that twenty year-old women in all thirty-seven

cultures studied still preferred to marry men who were only a few years older. Buss

(1994) suggested that younger women may not be drawn to substantially older men

because the have a greater risk of dying sooner and leaving them without the resources

they were providing, nor the protection for herself and her children. He also suggested

that a larger discrepancy in ages might lead to increased conflict resulting in a greater

chance of divorce, again leaving the woman without the resources her mate was

providing.

Often, younger men have not yet reached their peak of resource acquisition or

social status. Ancestral women, in order to increase their reproductive advantage, needed









to find a way to predict a man's future economic capacity or social status. Research has

shown (Buss. 1989b; Jencks, 1979; Willerman, 1979) that men who were industrious and

ambitious secured higher occupational status than men who were lazy and unmotivated.

Industriousness and ambition can serve as cues to women about a man's potential status

or earning power before they have peaked and women appear to be aware of this cue.

Langhorne and Secord (1955) found that women in their study of undergraduates desired

mates who enjoyed their work, showed career orientation, and demonstrated

industriousness and ambition much more often than men did. American women in the

cross-cultural study rated industriousness and ambition in a potential mate as important or

indispensable (Buss, 1989b). In fact, Buss and Schmitt (1993) found that women were

likely to discontinue a long-term relationship if the man loses his job, lacks career goals,

or shows a lazy streak. Preferences for mates who were ambitious was stronger among

women than they were among men in the majority of the 37 cultures studied (Buss,

1989b). Developing a preference for men with these characteristics helped ancestral

women solve the problem of resource acquisition when there were no overt signs of a

man's current resources. Women who were able to recognize these cues had a

reproductive advantage over women who did not because they were able to secure men

with the most potential for resource acquisition in the future, passing the benefits of those

resources on to their children.

Physical characteristics also play a role in female mate selection. In the animal

world, a male's physical size and strength are key factors that females use when selecting

mates. In species such as the gladiator frog and baboons, females were found to have

selected larger, stronger males with which to mate (Smuts, 1985; Trivers, 1985). In the









case of the frogs, females preferred large males because it is the male's job to defend the

nest containing the eggs until they hatch. Prior to selecting a mate, a female will

deliberately bump a male to test his strength and how vigorously he will defend his nest.

If the male moves as a result of the bump or flees, she will no longer consider him and

move on to another potential mate until she finds one that does not move. Among

baboons in the African plains, females form bonds with larger males who offer protection

for them and their offspring. The females are protected from other males who might seek

to sexually dominate them, removing their choice in mate selection. In exchange for

protection, female baboons grant these males sexual access.

Similarly in humans, a benefit for ancestral women to selecting a long-term mate

would be protection against physical and sexual domination at the hands of other men. A

man's size and strength would be cues for the degree of protection that a particular man

could offer. Modem women have been shown to be sensitive to these cues and have

preferences for taller, stronger men.

American women were found to judge short men to be undesirable as a permanent

mate and found it very important for a potential permanent mate to be tall, physically

strong, and athletic (Buss & Schmitt, 1993). Jackson (1992) found that women view tall

men as more desirable dates than short men or men of average height and they indicated a

preference for men of average or greater height, approximately five feet eleven inches as

their ideal marriage partner. Wiederman's (1993) study of personal ads revealed that

among women who mentioned height in their ad, 80% of them wanted a man who was at

least six feet tall. Also, ads place by taller men were found to have received more

responses from women than ads placed by shorter men. Selecting men as mates who have









the physical size, strength, and athletic ability to protect them is one way that women

have solved the problem of protecting themselves from aggressive men who might seek

to dominate them physically and or sexually, thereby restricting their reproductive

options.

Another important physical characteristic is good health. Buss et al. (1990) found

that in all thirty-seven cultures studied, women rated good health to be anywhere from

important to indispensable in a marriage partner. In earlier research, Ford and Beach

(1951) found that signs of poor health, such as open sores, lesions, and unusual color or

paleness in the face, are universally regarded as unattractive. Humans can signal good

health by their appearance or by behavior. People who are more lively, energetic, and

physically active may be seen as more attractive because these activities require an

energy expenditure that can only be afforded by those in good health.

Buss (1994) posited that there were potentially four potential consequences for

ancestral women who chose unhealthy or disease-prone mates. One, she placed herself

and her children at risk of being exposed to and contaminated by disease. Two, her mate

was less able to perform essential functions and provide certain benefits to her and her

children, such as hunting, providing protection and childcare. Three, her mate had a

greater chance of dying prematurely leaving her and her children without the resources he

was providing and leaving her, because she already has children, in a position in which it

is difficult to attract another mate who would provide those resources. The fourth

consequence is the possibility that her mate's susceptibility to illness and/or disease is

genetic and by mating with him, she would pass that susceptibility on to her children,

thereby decreasing their chances of reproductive success. By choosing healthy mates, a









female ancestor solved the problem of mate survival and ensured that resources would be

provided in the long term for herself and her children.

Just because a man possesses the positive attributes that a woman is seeking (i.e.

resources, status, size, and good health) does not mean that he will be willing to commit

those resources to a particular woman and her children. As mentioned before, it is in a

man's best interest reproductively to use his resources to acquire multiple mating

partners, rather than to invest in only one. Given the cost that a woman incurs from sex,

pregnancy, and child rearing, commitment of resources from her perspective seems like a

reasonable demand. Since the provision of resources can be temporary, women must look

for cues of an ongoing resource commitment.

Cross-culturally, love has been found to be one of the most important cues to

commitment (Jankowiak & Fisher, 1992; Sprecher, Aron, Hatfield, Cortese, Potapova, &

Levitskaya. 1994). In a study of college women in Texas, Thiessen, Young and

Burroughs (1993) found that the quality of being loved was rated as the most strongly

desired characteristic in a potential husband. In the cross-cultural study by Buss et al.

(1990), mutual attraction or love was the most highly valued characteristic in a potential

mate by both men and women. Nearly all cultures gave love the top rating among all

characteristics indicating that it is nearly indispensable for marriage. According to Buss's

(1994) theory, women place a premium on love because it signals the commitment of

men's economic, emotional and sexual resources. Men however, may do so for different

reasons.

According to Buss's theory, the preferences that women have when selecting a

mate are present because at one time in human history, they addressed and solved









specific survival and reproductive problems. A woman seeks a mate with greater

economic resources because he can provide such resources as food and shelter for her and

her children. She prefers a mate with high social status because he is more likely to

possess economic resources now and continue to have access to them in the future. An

abundance of resources is of little use if the mate she chooses is too small or weak to

defend them against other rival males and is unable to protect her and her children. To

solve that problem, ancestral women placed a premium on size and strength in their

mates. A good provider and protector of resources does little good if he dies prematurely

due to sickness or disease, creating a preference for mates who were in good health.

Finally, all of these characteristics were of little use to an ancestral woman if her mate

was not willing to commit those resources to her and her children. In fact, she would

incur great costs from a union with a man who then did not invest those resources in her

and her children. These preferences were passed along from generation to generation

from women to their daughters and, according to Buss, are at the root of women's

preferences in men today.

Men's preferences

Ancestral man's ideal mating strategy is quite different from that of ancestral

woman's, according to Buss's (1994) theory. Because all he needed to do in order to

reproduce was to impregnate a woman, it was not in ancestral man's interests to invest

his resources too heavily in any one woman, as it would restrict his access to others.

Because evolution has produced men who desire to marry and to commit their resources

to one woman, there must have been some adaptive reproductive advantages for doing so,

for human male ancestors. Buss (1994) posited that part of the explanation comes from









ancestral women's requirements for consenting to sex. If most women only granted

sexual access to men who were willing to invest heavily in them, those men who chose to

pursue a short-term mating strategy would have fewer opportunities to mate. Such men

would have access to a limited number of potential partners and likely not the most

desirable, because those in high demand would be in a position to select the

characteristics they found most desirable in a man.

Another potential advantage for human male ancestors to enter into committed

relationships is that committed relationships increase the chances of survival for his

offspring. A father could offer resources such as food, shelter, and protection to his child.

Additionally, the child could also have the benefit of any social or political alliances of

the father, which may produce a reproductive advantage for him or her by affording

access to more desirable choices of mates.

If human male ancestors were going to commit their resources to a single woman,

he would have to choose one who could bear children, in order for him to be

reproductively successful. This ability was key in the selection process for an ancestral

man because he could not afford to invest in a woman who could not bear him children.

Therefore, a preference for women with a high reproductive capacity developed,

according to Buss's theory. Because a woman's reproductive capacity could not be

directly detected, ancestral men had to rely on cues to a woman's ability to bear children.

These cues involve observable characteristics of women, two of which are youth and

health (Symons, 1979; Williams, 1975). Old or unhealthy women are less likely to

reproduce than younger healthy women, so one of the ways that our ancestral men solved









the problem of finding women who had high reproductive value was to prefer those

women who were young and healthy.

Youth is an important characteristic about which men have developed a

preference. Studies conducted on American college students (Buss, 1989b; Hill, 1945;

Hudson & Henze, 1969; McGinnis, 1958) revealed that men preferred an age difference

of about 2.5 years between themselves and their female partners, preferring their partners

to be younger. In fact, in all of the thirty-seven cultures incorporated in the international

study, men preferred wives who were younger than themselves (Buss, 1989b). Although

men universally preferred younger wives, the age difference preferred varied from culture

to culture with an average of about 2.5 years across cultures.

Data collected on marriage confirm men's preferences for younger brides.

Guttentag and Secord (1983) found that in the United States, men were three years older

than their brides at the time of their first marriage, five years older at the time of their

second marriage, and eight years older at the time of their third marriage. Buss (1989b)

found that in all countries around the world where information is available on the ages of

brides and grooms, men on average are older than the women they marry.

Because there was no way to assess accurately and objectively a woman's health,

ancestral men, in their effort to select young, healthy women with high reproductive

value, had to rely on various physical and behavioral cues to determine a woman's health.

Physical cues (e.g. full lips, clear, smooth skin, and good muscle tone) and behavioral

cues (e.g. animated facial expressions, youthful gait, and high energy levels) became

important predictors of reproductive value and shaped male standards of female beauty

(Buss, 1994). Because these cues provided some evidence of a woman's reproductive









value, over generations men developed preferences for women who displayed these

characteristics. According to Buss, men who preferred women who failed to display these

characteristics were likely to have had less reproductive success, produced fewer

offspring, and therefore their line of succession would have greatly diminished, if it did

not die out entirely.

Ford and Beach (1951) discovered several universal standards of beauty that

correspond to predictions of Buss's evolutionary theory. Clear, smooth skin with the

absence of sores and lesions, is a sign of health that is universally regarded as attractive.

Conversely, signs of poor health, such as poor complexion, ringworm, and facial

disfigurement are universally regarded as unattractive.

Cues that signal youth are also important in the assessment of a woman's

attractiveness. Jackson (1992) found that both men and women who judged a series of

photographs of women of various ages gave lower ratings of facial attractiveness as the

age of the women in the photographs increased. Jackson (1992) also noted that the

decline in ratings occurred regardless of the age of the judge. There was a sex difference,

however with respect to the rate at which ratings of facial attractiveness declined. Men's

ratings declined more rapidly than women's, as the age of the woman in the photograph

increased. This finding is consistent with the importance that men place on youth as a

predictor of reproductive capacity in women.

Langolis et al. (1987) and Langolis, Roggman, & Rieser-Danner (1990) reported

findings consistent with Buss's theory, in their studies of infants and attractiveness. First,

infants of two to eight months old who were shown pairs of slides of female faces that

differed in attractiveness (as rated by adults) looked longer at the more attractive faces.









Second, twelve month-old infants showed more observable pleasure, more play

involvement, less distress and less withdrawal when they interacted with strangers who

were wearing attractive masks than they did with strangers wearing unattractive masks.

Thirdly, twelve month-old infants played significantly longer with attractive dolls than

unattractive ones. These studies suggested that at least some components of human

standards of beauty are developed very early in life, perhaps even passed on genetically.

Furthermore, these standards of beauty do not appear to be bound by culture. A number

of researchers (Cross & Cross, 1971; Cunningham, Roberts, Richards, & Wu, 1989;

Jackson, 1992; Morse, Reis, Gruzen, & Wolff, 1974; Thakerar & Iwawaki, 1979) have

found that there is great consistency across races and cultures regarding judgments of

facial attractiveness of photographs of women of various across races.

Facial attractiveness is only one component of human standards of female beauty.

Body shape is another important component. Unlike facial attractiveness, standards of

female beauty related to body shape and size vary from culture to culture. Plump versus

slim body build, light versus dark skin, and emphasis on particular physical features (e.g.,

eyes, ears, breasts, and genitals) all vary across cultures (e.g., Ford & Beach, 1951). The

feature whose preference varies the most across cultures is a slim (versus plump) body

build. The degree of the preference for slimness is linked with the social status that

different body shapes convey within a specific culture. In cultures where food is scarce, a

plump body is a sign of wealth and adequate nutrition (Rosenblatt, 1974) and in cultures

where food is plentiful, the rich and healthy are differentiated by being lean (Symons,

1979).









Despite the cultural differences in preference for body size, men across cultures

share a particular preference for body shape. Singh has conducted a number of studies

(Singh, 1993a; 1993b; Singh & Lewis, 1995) that have shown that men have a preference

for women who have a low waist-to-hip (WTH) ratio. At puberty, the distribution of body

fat changes in boys and girls, with girls depositing fat in the hips and upper thighs. This

redistribution of fat lowers a girl's WTH ratio. Healthy, reproductively capable women

have been found to have low WTH ratios. Therefore, for ancestral men, WTH ratio

would have been an important cue regarding a woman's reproductive capacity and thus

an important standard of attractiveness. Buss (1994) suggested that a high WTH ratio

might mimic pregnancy in a woman. A woman who is already pregnant loses

reproductive value for a man and would thereby be less attractive. Over generations, this

might have helped reinforce men's preference for women with a low WTH ratio.

Because of its ability to cue them into healthy mates, the physical attractiveness of

a woman has become an important factor in mate selection for men. Langhome and

Secord (1955) found that among college students asked to identify characteristics they

wanted in a future husband or wife, men listed physical attractiveness far more often than

women did. Cross-generation studies conducted in the United States (Buss, 1985; 1989b;

Buss & Barnes, 1986; Hill, 1945; Hudson & Henze 1969; McGinnis, 1958) have gauged

the importance that men and women place on various characteristics in a potential mate.

These studies, conducted over ten year intervals from 1939-1989, revealed that in all

cases, men rated physical attractiveness and good looks as more important and desirable

in a potential mate than women did. This is not to say that women did not find physical

attractiveness desirable in a potential mate. Women did find attractiveness desirable, just









not as important. In each of the studies, the importance of physical attractiveness

increased with each passing decade for both men and women. What remained constant,

however was the difference between the sexes in the degree of importance placed on it.

Again, these differences are not limited to Western cultures. In all thirty-seven

cultures studied by Buss (1989b). men valued physical appearance more than women did

when choosing a mate. This effect was obtained across different locations, habitats,

marriage systems, and cultural living arrangements. The importance men place on

physical attractiveness in a mate appears to transcend race, ethnicity, religion and

political system.

Buss (1987) suggested that men's preference for attractive mates serves a purpose

in addition to its value as a reproductive cue. He suggested that an attractive mate signals

higher status to same-sex competitors as, well as other potential mates, thereby increasing

his reproductive value.

Another problem that ancestral men had to solve was that of determining

paternity. In a reproductively ideal situation for a man, he would mate with a variety of

women and produce a number of offspring, never having to invest much in any one of

them. However, when women began expressing preferences for men who were willing to

commit resources, things changed. In order for a man to benefit from investing large

amounts of resources into a woman and her childrenn, he had to be sure that he was

actually the father. Otherwise, he risked wasting his resources to further the spread of

someone else's genes.

Unlike other primates, human females give no visual or olfactory cues as to when

they are ovulating (Daniels, 1983). If they did, men, like other primates, would be able to









monopolize their mates during that small window of time, virtually ensuring that they

fathered any offspring produced. However, since ovulation and fertilization can occur at

any time, men who are away from their mates for any length of time run the risk of being

cuckolded (which means being the male partner of an adulteress). These men then

suffered lower reproductive success because they depleted resources investing in children

of another man, instead of using them to attract other mates and to raise their own

children.

To combat this problem, ancestral man needed to find a way to increase the

chances that his mate's children were also his own. Buss (1994) proposed that two

preferences for women that men developed, chastity and fidelity, help men solve that

problem. Before the use of modem contraceptives, female chastity provided some

measure of certainty of the paternity of future children, at least at the onset of a marriage.

With the assumption that a woman's tendencies toward chastity remained constant over

time, chastity also provided a cue to the long-term fidelity of a potential mate. Research

by Thompson, (1983) and Weiss and Slosnerick, (1981) has shown, however, that the

actual amount of a person's premarital sexual promiscuity, as opposed to virginity, is a

better predictor of postmarital fidelity. Those who had more sexual partners prior to

marriage were found to be less faithful than those who had fewer partners before

marriage.

Cross-generation mating studies confirmed that in the United States, men valued

chastity in a potential mate more than women did (Hill, 1945; Hudson & Henze 1969;

McGinnis, 1958). The value that they placed on it however, has declined over the years.

The trend of men valuing chastity more than women do is not true across all cultures,









however. Of the thirty-seven cultures in Buss's (1989b) study on mate preferences, only

about 62 percent of those cultures showed a sex difference for preference of mate

chastity. In all of those cultures that did show a sex difference, however, males placed a

greater value on chastity in their mates than did females.

Infidelity by his mate over time would have a much more devastating impact on a

man than would her lack of chastity in the beginning. Therefore, according to Buss's

theory, men should have a much greater preference for fidelity in a potential mate than

for chastity. Likewise, men should also show a greater intolerance for infidelity on the

part of their mates. Research supports this assumption. American men (Buss & Schmitt,

1993) and men across cultures (Buss, 1989a) rated faithfulness and sexual fidelity as the

most highly valued traits in the selection of a long-term mate. By the same token, they

also regarded unfaithfulness as the least desirable characteristic in a long-term mate.

Over generations, human males have faced a unique set of environmental

challenges and problems related to reproduction. A sexual psychology has evolved to

address these problems. One such problem is finding reproductively valuable females

with whom to mate. With the increase in women's preferences for men who were willing

to invest their resources in a long-term relationship, men needed a way to determine the

future reproductive potential of their mates. Men evolved a preference for youth and

beauty to address this problem. Men worldwide want physically attractive, younger

wives, not because of an arbitrary sexist desire, but because youth and beauty are cues to

a woman's health and fertility. Men who did not express these preferences had less

reproductive success and were therefore less likely to pass on their genes causing their

line to die out. Those who chose healthier mates had greater success and their preferences









were passed on to their offspring, thus continuing their line. These preferences have been

shown to occur across cultures and apparently are deeply engrained in human sexual

psychology (Buss, 1994).

Another universal preference expressed by men is for fidelity in their long-term

mates. Across cultures, sexual fidelity has been identified as the most important trait for

men in selection of a long-term mate. In an environment in which men are investing large

portions of their resources in a single mate and her children, it is crucial for his

reproductive success that the children he is providing for are his own. Men who

committed to unfaithful partners were utilizing their resources to raise other men's

children, and therefore less successful at passing their genes to future generations.

These preferences evolved as a part of men's and women's sexual psychology,

which was designed to address certain specific reproductive challenges that each faced.

Although they were originally designed to deal with cues that were present in early

human history, the underlying psychology still exerts tremendous force in human mating

behavior today, according to Buss and his colleagues (Buss et al., 1990).

Attracting a Mate

It is not enough to simply identify desirable mates. Knowing what one desires in a

mate does not guarantee success in getting what one wants. For successful mating to take

place, one must also be able to gain access to those desirable mates by signaling that one

will deliver the benefits desired by the opposite sex. Competition with members of one's

own sex often helps solve this problem, with the victors having greater access to mating

with desired partners. The animal kingdom provides many examples of these types of

intrasex competitions.









Male elephant seals often fight each other to establish dominance within a heard

(Le Boeuf. 1974). The winner of these fights chases off his rivals and has sexual access to

a number of females within the herd. The victors in these fights tend to be larger,

stronger, and more aggressive than their defeated rivals and these traits are passed on to

their offspring. Over many iterations of these larger, more aggressive males competing

successfully, the largest and strongest of them will have greater access to females,

producing future generations of males who are even larger than the generations preceding

them. Males who are smaller and weaker are often excluded from the mating process and

fail to pass their genes on. Female elephant seals prefer to mate with the males who are

victorious in combat and thereby pass their preferences on to their daughters. Also, by

choosing to mate with larger, stronger, more aggressive males, they also pass these traits

on to their sons, securing a reproductive advantage for them. Females, in fact, often

refuse to mate with smaller males and will alert the dominant male if one attempts to

mate with her, further reinforcing the selection criteria of size and strength. This is an

example of how one sex's preferences tend to create the context of competition for the

other sex.

Females are not immune from this type of competition for mates. Research

(Lindburg, 1971; Seyfarth, 1976; and Smuts, 1987) has found that in several species of

monkeys, females will often interfere during the copulation of males and rival females, in

an attempt to disrupt the mating process of those females thereby limiting their access to

the resources of those males and gaining access to those males for themselves.

Like the males and females of other species, men and women also compete within

their own sexes for reproductive access to desirable members of the opposite sex. These









intrasex competitions, although typically less violent than in the animal kingdom, are also

driven by the preferences of the other sex. This competition not only involves attempting

to attract desirable mates, but also interfering with the success of same-sex rivals. This

interference often takes the form of physical confrontation in the animal kingdom,

whereas modem humans more often opt for verbal derogation their competitors. Insults,

slurs, and insinuations aimed at damaging a rival's reputation or status as a desirable

mate are part of the process humans use to thwart competitors and successfully attract

mates (Buss, 1994).

The success of these tactics, both those designed to attract mates and those

designed to disparage competitors, depends on whether the target of one's efforts is

seeking a casual sex partner or a long-term marriage partner. In long-term mating, both

men and women prefer a longer courtship (Buss, 1994). This allows more time for the

partners to evaluate the assets and liabilities that each other carries with them. In time,

negative things that a person may hide from a potential partner (e.g., children from a

former relationship or exaggeration of status or resources) are more likely to be revealed.

In short-term casual sexual relationships, the evaluation process is greatly abbreviated;

allowing for these types of deceptions to go undetected by one's partner.

Like the male weaverbird mentioned earlier, one of the techniques men use to

attract mates is to display tangible resources. This can be done in a number of ways

including displaying a lot of money, showing a high income potential, driving an

expensive car, and emphasizing high status. Another way men may mislead women is by

exaggerating their potential to acquire future resources or to lie about their career in a

stature-enhancing direction.









Men often counter the tactics of rivals by derogating the resource potential of

those rivals. Buss and Dedden (1990) found that men typically tell women that their

rivals are poor, lack ambition, and drive inexpensive cars. They also found that women

are much less likely to attack a rival's resource potential, and when they do, it is less

effective than when men do it.

Different types of resource displays also have different effects. More immediate

displays of wealth, such as buying a woman expensive gifts or showing large amounts of

money, are more effective for attracting short-term casual sex partners than for attracting

long term mates (Cloyd, 1976). Showing ambition and future resource potential is more

effective at attracting long-term mates. Similarly, derogating a rival's immediate

resources is more effective for interfering with his access to casual sex partners, whereas

belittling his future resource potential is more effective for interfering with his ability to

attract a long-term mate (Buss, 1994).

One strategy that is successful at attracting both types of relationships for men is

wearing expensive clothing. Hill, Nocks and Gardner (1987) found support for this in a

study in which women were shown slides of different men in various outfits. The women

reported that they were more attracted to men who were wearing expensive clothing, such

as three-piece suits, sport jackets or designer jeans, than they were to men wearing cheap

clothing such as T-shirts and tank tops. This effect was the same whether the women

were evaluating the men as potential marriage partners or as sex partners. Townsend and

Levy (1990) conducted a similar study in which the same men were photographed twice;

once wearing a Burger King uniform with a blue baseball cap and a polo-type shirt and

again wearing a white dress shirt with a designer tie, a navy blazer, and a Rolex watch.









Based on these photographs, women in the study stated that they were unwilling to date,

have sex with. or marry the men in the low-status outfits, but were willing to consider all

three of those kinds of relationships with the men in the high-status outfits.

In addition to resource displays. men also use displays of commitment to attract

women. Displays of love, commitment, and devotion are powerful tools that men can use

to attract women because these displays signal a man's willingness to invest his resources

in his partner. Unlike other displays, such as wearing expensive clothing or driving an

expensive car, displays of commitment are more difficult and costly to fake, because

commitment is gauged by repeated behaviors over time. Once an investment of time is

made attempting to attract one woman, that same time cannot then be reused to pursue

another, as it can with wearing particular clothing, for example.

Displaying kindness, which also signals commitment, is another tactic men use to

attract women. Men who display an understanding of a woman's problems, who show a

sensitivity to her needs, and who perform helpful deeds, succeed in attracting women as

long-term mates (Buss, 1994). These types of displays work to attract women because

they signal that the man cares for the woman, will assist her in times of need, and will

dedicate resources to her. They also signal long-term commitment, rather than short-term

sexual interest. Tooke and Camire (1991) found that these displays of kindness by men

can be deceptive. In a study of university students, they found that men act more polite,

appear to be more considerate, and seem more vulnerable than they typically do, in order

to attract women.

Another effective tactic men can use to display kindness is to show nurturing

behavior toward children. In a study by La Cera, Cosmides, and Tooby (1993), women









were shown slides of the same man photographed in three contexts: standing alone,

interacting positively with a baby, and ignoring a baby in distress. Women in the study

indicated that they were most attracted to the man when he was shown interacting

positively toward the baby and least attracted when shown ignoring the baby in distress.

Commitment can also be signaled by displays of loyalty and fidelity. Out of 130

possible ways for men to attract women, women ranked showing fidelity as the second

most effective act, just below displaying an understanding of a woman's problems (Buss,

1994). Because fidelity is a strong signal for commitment, an effective tactic for men who

are competing with each other to attract women is, to call into question his rival's sexual

intentions and fidelity. Suggesting to a woman that a rival only wants casual sex is

effective in decreasing that rival's attractiveness in the long-term, but less so in the short-

term (Buss, 1994). Similarly, saying that a rival cheats on women and cannot stay loyal to

one woman is another effective strategy for men to reduce the long-term attractiveness of

a rival (Schmitt & Buss, 1996).

Although signs of commitment strengthen a man's attractiveness to women, signs

that he has already made a commitment to another woman, and thus has also made a

commitment of resources, undermine his attractiveness. In the study by Schmitt and Buss

(1996), university students rated mentioning that a rival already has a serious girlfriend as

the most effective way for a man to reduce the attractiveness of that rival.

Another way men attempt to attract women is by displaying physical and athletic

prowess. College students rate displays of one's own physical prowess as well as

derogating a rival's physical prowess as significantly more effective at attracting casual

sex partners than they are at attracting long-term partners (Schmitt & Buss, 1996).









Similarly, college students also judged male displays of self-confidence and bravado to

be effective at attracting casual partners, but less so with long-term partners. One reason

that Buss suggested for this difference in effectiveness is that women may be seeking

additional physical protection that short-term mating can provide. As with kindness, men

can also be deceptive with their displays of confidence and bravado. In Tooke and

Camire's (1991) study, men were found to boast and brag to make themselves appear

more desirable, act more masculine than they really felt, and behaved more assertively

around women, in order to attract short-term partners.

These displays are not always directed at women, however. They can also be

directed toward other men, as a way for a man to elevate his status and prestige among

his rivals. With increased status among his peers, he might obtain deference from rivals,

thereby further increasing his status and his access to desirable women (Buss, 1994).

These displays of resources, commitment, and dominance are effective ways for

men to attract women because they are all designed to highlight characteristics that

women look for in a man. Men who displayed these characteristics were more successful

at acquiring mates than men who did not. These characteristics were then passed on to

their sons and the preference for those characteristics was passed on to their daughters,

continuing the cycle.

In the same way that men's tactics to attract women are based on women's

preferences, women's tactics to attract mates are based on men's preferences. Because

men place an emphasis on appearance when selecting a mate, an important tactic for

women when trying to attract men is to enhance their physical appearance by increasing

their appearance of youthfulness and good health. Buss (1994) noted that in this area,









women do not attempt to display accurate information, but instead compete to activate

men's evolved psychological standards of beauty that are keyed to youth and health.

Cosmetics designed to create youthful, healthy features such as full lips, clear skin, and

lustrous hair serve to stimulate men's evolved preferences, whether the woman actually

possesses these characteristics or not. Schmitt and Buss (1996) found that women use

makeup to accentuate their looks, go on diets to improve their figures, and get new

haircuts (to enhance its body and the appearance of its health) more often than men did.

They also found that these improvements in appearance were twice as effective for

women as they were for men at attracting a mate. Furthermore, while it was found that

these tactics were effective for attracting both short-term sex partners and marital

partners, they were more effective at attracting short-term sex partners than marital

partners.

In competition to attract mates, women not only attempt to improve their own

appearance, but they also denigrate the physical attractiveness of other women. Buss and

Dedden (1990) found that women denigrated their rivals by saying that they were fat,

ugly, physically unattractive, and that their bodies had no shape. These tactics, similar to

the enhancement strategies discussed earlier, are more effective for women in short-term

contexts than it is in long-term contexts, and is more effective for women than for men.

Denigrating a rival's appearance is more effective for a woman if it is made

public (Buss, 1994). The knowledge that others find a woman unattractive raises the cost

for men of mating with that particular woman. As stated earlier, one of the benefits for

men of having an attractive mate is that it elevates the perception of his status to others.

With this increased status, comes increased access to both numbers of women and to









more desirable women, giving him a reproductive advantage. In the same way, being

with a woman whom others find unattractive potentially jeopardizes his status, creating

the opposite effect. The effectiveness of this strategy is enhanced by the fact that humans'

judgments of attractiveness are influenced by other people's judgments (Graziano,

Jensen-Campbell, Shebilske, & Lundgren, 1993).

Signals of fidelity are a very effective strategy for women when trying to attract a

long-term mate. Schmitt and Buss (1996) reported that of all the attraction strategies rated

by college students, remaining faithful, avoiding sex with other men, and showing

devotion were judged to be the three most effective tactics for a woman to attract a

permanent mate. These tactics directly address one of human males' most important

evolutionary problems, ensuring the paternity of children in whom he is investing

resources. As discussed earlier, the most evolutionarily disadvantageous position for a

man to find himself in is a committed relationship and raising children of whom he is not

the father (so they cannot transmit his genes). So by displaying cues of her fidelity in a

committed relationship, a woman offers men increased certainty of the paternity of future

offspring.

Conversely, questioning the fidelity of others is an effective way for women to

denigrate their rivals and gain a competitive advantage. Saying that a rival cannot stay

loyal to one man was judged to be the most effective strategy for a woman to use against

a rival in a marriage context (Schmitt & Buss, 1996). Likewise, saying that a rival was

loose, sleeps around a lot, or is a tramp was also judged to be among the most effective

derogation tactics for women. Buss and Dedden (1990) noted that women are

significantly more likely than men are to derogate a rival's fidelity.









When using this denigration strategy, women must make accurate judgments of a

man's intentions or she risks this tactic working against her. Although derogating another

woman's fidelity is an effective strategy for discouraging men from pursuing a long-term

relationship or marriage, men seeking short-term partners typically are not bothered by

promiscuity in a women. In fact, they find it somewhat desirable because it enhances

their chances of success (Buss, 1994). Therefore, a woman must assess the type of

relationship a man is pursuing before employing any derogation or attraction tactics. If

she guesses wrong, she may use a tactic that has the opposite effect of what she intended,

placing her at a competitive disadvantage. For example, a woman seeking a long-term

relationship may sexualize her appearance and give signals of sexual availability in order

to attract a man whom she assumes is looking for more of a casual sexual relationship.

She does this even though she may have no intention of having sex with him right away.

Instead she may hope to interest him enough to trigger investment of his time and

resources to pursue her for a long-term relationship. If, however, the man is initially

interested in a long-term relationship in the beginning, the signals of her sexual

availability which she was using to attract him will, actually deter him from pursuing her

as a long-term partner, because they raise concerns about her fidelity in a future

relationship.

The importance of judging a man's intentions is also important for women when

using coyness as an attraction technique. Appearing indifferent to a person whom one

likes or "playing hard to get" were judged to be more effective for women in the context

of permanent relationships than in the context of causal ones, and were judged more

effective for women than for men (Schmitt & Buss, 1996). Buss (1994) suggested that









this strategy serves the purposes of both sexes. For men, a woman's relatively limited

availability signals desirability and communicates fidelity. If she is hard for him to get,

than he can be more certain that she will be harder for a rival to get once she is his wife.

These address two key evolutionary problems: (a) it increases her perceived desirability

in the mating market and (b) it offers greater certainty of paternity of her children, should

he marry her, because it increases the chances that he alone will have sexual access to

her. For women, playing hard to get tests a man's willingness to invest resources, as he

will have to commit considerably more time, energy, and resources pursuing her.

Sexualizing her appearance and behavior are highly effective strategies for a

woman seeking a short-term relationship. "Men in singles bars stated that wearing sexy,

revealing, tight clothes; wearing a shirt with a low-cut back or a low-cut front; letting the

shirt slip off her shoulders; wearing a short skirt; walking seductively; dancing

seductively; and walking with a strut all place in the top 25 percent of the tactics most

likely to attract them." (Buss, 1994, p. 118). Cashdan (1993) also found that women who

were pursuing a mating strategy of casual sex wore revealing clothes more often than

women who were pursuing a strategy of long-term commitment did. These acts of

sexualizing one's appearance signal sexual availability to men.

Buss and Dedden (1990) found that when competing in a short-term context,

women derogate their rivals by questioning their sexual availability. They found that

college women derogated their rivals by suggesting that they were merely a tease, that

their rivals led men on and told men that their rivals were frigid, all suggesting that the

other woman would not be sexually accessible to the man, and therefore less attractive to

him.









Success in mating for men and women involves being able to attract desirable

mates. Men and women employ different strategies designed to enhance their

attractiveness to potential mates, but also they derogate the rivals to minimize the rivals'

attractiveness to potential mates. At times, these strategies involve deception, particularly

in short-term mating strategies employed by men, who may feign interest in commitment,

or inflate their level of status, kindness or resources in order to gain sexual access to

women. Women tend to combat this by insisting on stronger indications of commitment

before granting sexual access to a man. Women, however are not above employing

deception in their own mating strategies, for example by feigning interest in casual sex a

means of concealing their intentions of a long-term relationship.

Men and women are aware of the strategies and possible deception by the

opposite sex. In an attempt to regain a selection advantage, men and women often employ

counter-strategies to subvert those used by the opposite sex. When the mating strategies

of one sex interfere with the goals of the other, conflict arises.

Conflict

The sexual strategies that one sex uses to select, attract, and keep a mate often

create conflict with members of the other sex as they employ their own sexual strategies

toward the same ultimate goal; to successfully pass their genes on to another generation.

A non-human example of this type of conflict can be found among scorpionflies.

Female scorpionflies will refuse to mate with a male unless he presents her with a "gift,"

usually a dead insect or other food resource (Thornhill, 1980). While the female

consumes the gift, the male copulates with her and maintains a grasp on the gift to

prevent her from escaping with it before he is finished. It takes a male scorpionfly twenty

minutes of continuous copulation to deposit all his sperm. If he brings a gift that doesn't









take twenty minutes for the female to consume, she may leave before he is finished. On

the other hand, if he brings a gift that is too large, he may end up fighting with her over

the uneaten portion once copulation has finished. Such fighting could lead to loss of life

by one or both of them, thus hampering the passing of his genes. Over generations, male

scorpionflies have evolved the ability to select the appropriate size gift, one that is neither

too large nor too small, thus allow them to avoid both of these types of conflict.

Similarly, men and women also often engage in conflict over resources and sexual

access when their strategies interfere with each other's. For example, a man who seeks

sex without investing in his partner interferes with the mating goal of many women, who

seek higher emotional investment and commitment of a man's material resources.

Similarly, a woman who requires a long courtship and/or heavy investment interferes

with a man's sexual strategy, acquiring sex with a minimum amount of investment. From

this perspective, men and women often cannot simultaneously reach their individual

goals without coming into conflict.

Buss (1994) suggested that the negative emotions of anger, distress and upset are

important human psychological solutions that evolved in part, to alert humans to

interference with their adaptive goals, including their sexual goals. These negative

emotions draw attention to problematic events and serve as cues for memory storage and

retrieval of these events. Buss also suggested that these emotions motivate action to

eliminate the source of the problem. Men and women have different sexual strategies, so

it follows that they differ in the events that activate these negative emotions. For

example, men seeking causal sex without commitment or investment often anger and









upset women, whereas women who lead men to invest time and/or resources for a period

of time and then withhold sex that was promised or implied, often upset and anger men.

Perhaps the most common source of conflict between men and women centers on

disagreements about sexual access or availability. Byers and Lewis (1988) asked a group

of college students to keep daily diaries of their dating activities for a four-week period.

Forty-seven percent of participants reported having one or more disagreements about the

desired level of sexual intimacy between themselves and a date during that time. One

explanation offered is that because men sometimes seek sexual involvement with a

minimum of investment and because women may withhold sex until an investment is

made, conflict naturally follows as each tries to get what he or she wants.

Another source of conflict is limitation in a person's ability to correctly identify

signals of sexual interest on the part of another. Several studies have shown that men are

likely to misinterpret friendly interest on the part of a woman as sexual receptivity

(Abbey, 1982; Abbey & Melby, 1986; Saal, Johnson & Weber, 1989). In these studies,

men were found to incorrectly infer sexual interest from women based on simple

friendliness and smiling, when no sexual intent was there. From a Buss perspective, if,

throughout evolutionary history, some of these incorrect inferences actually led to sex,

men would tend to retain them, particularly if there was no significant consequences to

being wrong.

Men's lowered threshold for detecting sexual interest also makes them vulnerable

to manipulation, as women can use sexuality for their own gain. Buss (1994) noted that in

a study of university students, women significantly more often than men reported smiling









and flirting as a means for eliciting special treatment from a member of the opposite sex,

even though they had no interest in having sex with that person.

The combination of men's lowered threshold for inferring sexual interest in

women and women's intentional exploitation of this phenomenon can readily lead to

conflict over the desired level of sexual intimacy that each feels is appropriate. Men will

tend to feel that women lead them on and women will tend to feel that men seek sexual

intimacy too quickly.

Sometimes the conflict over sexual accessibility can cross the line from pushiness

into sexual aggression. In a study by Buss (1989a), men and women were asked to

evaluate potentially upsetting actions that a member of the opposite sex could perform.

The ratings were done on a 7-point scale where a rating of 1 indicated no distress and a

rating of 7 indicated the highest level of distress. Women in this study rated sexual

aggression by a man on average to be 6.5, the highest rating of any of the actions listed.

Women judged sexual aggression to be the most disturbing action that a man could

perform, more so than both verbal abuse and non-sexual physical abuse. Conversely, men

rated sexual aggression by a woman at an average of only 3.02. Other actions when

performed by women, such as infidelity (6.04) and verbal or physical abuse (5.55), were

rated as more distressing than sexual aggression.

Men and women, however both failed to accurately evaluate how distressing

sexual aggressiveness was to the opposite sex. Men underestimated the level of distress

that women felt as a result of sexual aggressiveness perpetrated by a man, whereas

women overestimated how upsetting men found sexual aggressiveness when performed

by a woman. These differences in perception may result from men and women









incorrectly assuming that the other sex is more similar to themselves than is actually the

case.

Another source of conflict over sexual access between men and women is sexual

withholding. In Buss's study mentioned earlier, both men and women indicated that they

found sexual withholding by the opposite sex to be distressing, but men rated it

significantly more distressing than women did, 5.03 and 4.29 respectively. Buss

suggested a number of possible functions of sexual withholding for women. One

potential function is that it preserves her ability to choose men of high quality or value

with whom to mate. Another is that by withholding sex, it increases the value of sexual

access and thereby increases the investment that a mate will be willing to make to gain

sexual access to her. A third function of withholding is to manipulate the perception of

the woman's value as a mate. Because highly desirable women are less sexually

accessible to the average man, a woman may manipulate a man's perception of her

desirability in the positive direction by withholding sex. This may also encourage a man

to view her as a long-term rather than a short-term partner. Because infidelity by a spouse

is highly disturbing to men, they more often view women who grant sexual access easily

as casual sex partners and not long-term mates. The practice of sexual withholding

creates conflict for men because it directly interferes with the mating strategy of gaining

sexual access with a minimum amount of resource investment and commitment.

Another source of mating conflict is emotional commitment. In an abstract sense,

one can solve adaptive problems in one of two ways: (a) one can use one's own energy

and resources to solve the problem or (b) one can secure the energy and resources of

another. Those who were able to enlist the services of others, with minimal commitment









on their own part, would have an adaptive advantage over those who were not able to do

so. For example, according to Buss's theory, it would be in a woman's best interest to

have a man so committed to her that all of his energies and resources are channeled

toward her and her children. It is often in a man's best interest, however, to devote only

part of his energy and resources to any one woman, thus reserving the rest for solving

other adaptive problems (e.g., seeking other mates or pursuing higher social status).

This discrepancy over level of commitment is illustrated in women's complaints

about men's tendency not to express their feelings openly. Buss and Dedden (1990)

found that among newlyweds, 45 percent of women complained that their mates failed to

express their true feelings, compared to only 24 percent of the men in the study. One

possible source of this difference is the fact that men can more easily divide their

reproductive resources than women can. For example, in a one-year period, a woman

typically can only get pregnant by one man and the vast majority of her reproductive

resources are devoted to offspring from that pregnancy. During the same time period,

however, a man can much more easily divide his reproductive resources among multiple

women because it requires very little investment, technically, to impregnate multiple

women.

Buss (1994) suggested that an adaptive reason for men failing to express emotions

is that by investing less emotionally in a relationship, a man frees up resources that can

be directed toward other women or other goals. It would be in a man's best interest not to

reveal how strong his desires are for a woman or how much he is willing to commit

because that, as in any negotiation, may increase the "price" he has to pay. If a man's

emotions remain concealed, so do his sexual strategies. It is in the woman's interest,









therefore, to discern as much of this information as possible in order to make decisions

about her own level of reproductive investment. Buss (1994) noted that college women

reported that they spent more time than men did recalling and dissecting conversations

with people they were dating and tried to analyze their partner's "real" feelings,

intentions, and motivations. It was noted that women may also conceal their true feelings,

but that the consequences to a man for incorrectly assuming his partner is seeking a long-

term commitment are much smaller than they may be for a woman, because his

reproductive investment is more easily fractionated than hers is. Therefore, getting a man

to express himself emotionally is one way that women can get the information they need

to determine a man's level of commitment.

In contrast to women's complaints, men more often than women complain that

that their partners are overly emotional (Buss, 1994). Buss suggested that overly

emotional partners can be costly because they absorb time and energy. The process of

calming an emotional partner consumes energy that could be directed toward other goals,

thereby increasing the cost of commitment to that partner. Buss suggests that this process

functions as a way for women to elicit greater commitment on the part of a man. This

cost escalation creates conflict for men by consuming resources that could be allocated

elsewhere.

Zahavi (1977) suggested that for women, moodiness also functioned as an

assessment tool to test the strength of a bond. For example, a woman could use

moodiness to impose small costs on her partner and then use the partner's reaction to

gauge his level of commitment to the relationship. If her partner tolerated these costs and

was responsive to the increased demand for investment, it would signal a stronger level









of commitment on his part. If, however, he was unwilling to tolerate these costs, that

would signal a weaker level of commitment to the relationship.

Another issue that causes conflict among couples is the investment of time,

energy and resources. Complaints of neglect or unreliability from a partner are examples

of investment conflicts. Buss (1994) found that women, twice as often as men,

complained that their partners neglected them, rejected them, and were unreliable.

Examples of these complaints were the following: men did not spend enough time with

them, men failed to call when they said they would, men arrived late, and men canceled

plans at the last minute. According to Buss, the sex difference in the frequency of these

complaints suggests that these events are costs placed on women by men. In evolutionary

terms, women who bore children of and then were neglected by their partners would lose

the reproductive advantage they had gained by having a committed partner (that is, one

willing to invest his resources in her and her child).

On the opposite end of the spectrum from neglect is dependency and

possessiveness. Conflict arises around these issues when one partner feels that the other

absorbs so much of his or her energy that his or her own freedoms or goals are

compromised. Buss (1994) reported that 36 percent of married men, compared to only 7

percent of married women, complained that their spouses demanded too much of their

time. Similarly, 29 percent of married men, compared to only 8 percent of married

women, complained that their spouses demanded too much attention from them.

According to Buss, these sex differences reflect conflict about investment. Women try to

requisition their mate's resources and investment, whereas men try to resist investing all

of their resources in one woman, instead choosing to reserve resources for the pursuit of









other adaptive goals (such as raising social status or acquiring other mates). Both sexes

can benefit from dividing their reproductive resources across different partners, however

the potential costs and rewards for doing so historically favor men. According to Buss,

having multiple partners fits directly into men's optimal reproductive strategy, therefore

the loss of a relationship with a partner after she has been impregnated is of less cost to

him. Because garnering the resources of a mate is an important component in women's

mating strategy, the potential costs of pursuing other partners is much greater. Because

being cuckolded is one of the costliest reproductive problems for men, a woman risks

losing her existing partner's investment of time and resources if she is discovered.

Another example of conflict related to investment of resources is in disagreements

about the allocation of money. A study of American couples by Blumstein and Schwartz

(1983) found that money was one of the most frequent sources of conflict between them.

They found that 72 percent of married couples fought about money at least once per year

and 15 percent reported fighting more than once per month about money. These fights

were more often about how the money they had was to be spent than they were about a

lack of money. Women, more often than men, complain that their partners do not channel

the money that they earn to them, particularly in the form of buying them gifts (Buss,

1994). An explanation from a Buss perspective would suggest that these sex differences

again reflect men's and women's different mating strategies. Because women select

mates partly for their external resources, they would be more disturbed when they were

not receiving the benefit of those resources. External resources do not rate as highly on

men's selection criteria, therefore conflict is not created when those resources don't come

his way.









Conflict between men and women appears in all mating relationships. These

conflicts occur over sexual access, degree of emotional commitment and investment, and

amount of resource investment. The majority of these conflicts can be traced back to

different mating strategies that men and women have developed. The mating strategies

employed by one sex often interfere with those employed by the other sex. Both sexes,

however, have also evolved mechanisms to alert them to interference with their mating

strategies. Anger, sadness, jealousy, and other emotions serve to alert humans to this type

of interference. Once alerted to this interference, one can take action to avoid the negative

consequences of the interference before suffering any cost because of it. Because their

mating strategies are different, men and women are sensitive to different types of

interference. For example, a woman would be upset by a man seeking sexual access too

quickly (because it interferes with her strategy of securing a commitment of resources)

whereas a man would be upset by a woman cuckolding him (because it drains his

resources without any reproductive benefit to him).

In summary, throughout evolutionary history, men and women have become more

sensitive to each other's interference and have developed ways to circumvent that

interference. As men and women become more covert and possibly even more deceptive

with regard to their own intentions in a relationship, they also become more sensitive to

and develop better strategies to detect deception in others. For every strategy that one sex

develops to gain a mating advantage over the other, the other sex develops a strategy to

detect and counteract it. As women develop more sophisticated strategies to achieve their

goals, men, in turn, develop more sophisticated strategies to achieve their goals. Because

these goals interfere with each other, there appears to be no end to these types of conflict.









Social Exchange Theory

An exchange can generally be thought of as the transfer of something from one

person to another, in return for something else. Blau (1964) noted two types of exchanges

that can occur between people, economic and social, and listed several differences

between the two. First, economic exchanges (i.e., a business contract) usually involve

specific obligations whereas the obligations in social exchanges (i.e. helping a neighbor

repair a fence) are primarily unspecified. Secondly, economic exchanges involve a

specific time frame in which repayments are to be made, whereas social exchanges are

often without such restrictions. Third, the objects of economic exchange are often open to

negotiation, while those of social exchanges usually are not. Fourth, economic exchanges

can be enforced by the legal system, whereas social exchanges are based on trust and are

usually not legally enforceable. Fifth, economic exchanges often tend to be impersonal.

Social exchanges, on the other hand, often foster feelings of gratitude, trust and personal

obligation. Interpersonal relationships are often developed as a result of these social

exchanges. Sixth, the exchange rate in economic interactions is often well defined, which

is usually not the case in social exchanges. Seventh, the value of economic benefits is

independent of the individual who provides them. Social benefits, on the other hand,

often gain or lose value, depending upon who gives them.

There are several approaches to social exchange, each taking a slightly different

view of the decision-making process one undergoes during an exchange, the patterns of

exchange, and how conflict occurs within interpersonal relationships as a result of these

exchanges. It is important to note that social exchange theory has been linked to

relationship satisfaction (Rusbult, 1980) as well as relationship conflict. For this









dissertation, however, the focus will remain exclusively on exchange theory's

contribution to understanding relationship conflict literature and not relationship

satisfaction.

Five Approaches To Exchange

Homans' Operant Psychology Approach

Although a sociologist, Homans's (1974) exchange theory relies heavily on

behaviorist psychology, particularly the work of B.F. Skinner. In his work, Skinner

(1974) makes four assumptions about human behavior. First, a person is an organism that

inhabits the earth with other organisms. These human beings possess unique anatomical

and physiological characteristics that have evolved as their ancestors adapted to their

environments. Those characteristics, which aid survival, were passed onward to their

offspring making up our genetic endowment. Second, a newborn human being becomes a

"Person" when he learns to behave in a way that has been reinforced by other people.

Third, human behavior is under the control of cues in the setting in which the behavior

takes place. Finally, the ability of human beings to learn to engage in behaviors is part of

the genetic endowment.

Decision-making

Homans's theory is based on the principal that people repeat rewarded behaviors

and do not repeat punished behaviors. Homans (1974) articulated the following five

propositions to elaborate his position.

1. "For all actions taken by persons, the more often a particular action of the person is

rewarded, the more likely that the person is to perform that action" (p. 16). Homans

did note limits to this proposition in that research has shown that people tend to repeat









a behavior more frequently when it is rewarded irregularly than when it is rewarded

regularly.

2. "If in the past the occurrence of a particular stimulus, or set of stimuli, has been the

occasion on which the persons action has been rewarded, and the more similar the

present stimuli are to the past ones, the more likely that person is to perform that

action, or some similar action, now" (p. 22-23). This proposition describes stimulus

generalization, in which people tend to employ strategies that have been successful in

similar circumstances in past.

3. "The more of valuable to person is the result of his action, the more likely he [or she]

is to perform an action" (p. 25). In this proposition Homans assumed that resources

take on varying degrees of value as rewards and those resources with higher reward

value will be more successful as reinforcers for behavior.

4. "The more often in the recent past a person has received a particular reward, the less

valuable any further unit of that reward becomes for him [or her]" (p. 29). This

proposition states that a resource loses its value as a reward after the point at which a

person no longer needs any more of that particular resource, also known as satiation.

5. (a) "When a person's action does not receive the reward he expected, or receives

punishment he [or she] did not expect, he [or she] will be angry; he [or she] becomes

more likely to perform an aggressive behavior, and the results of such behavior

become more valuable to him [or her]" (p. 37). (b) "When a person's action receives

rewards he [or she] expected, especially a greater reward than he [or she] expected, or

does not receive punishment he [or she] expected, he [or she] will be pleased; he [or

she] becomes more likely to perform an approved behavior, and the results of such









behavior become more valuable to him [or her]" (p. 39). Here Homans suggested that

in time, people will be able to anticipate the rewards and punishments that follow

certain behaviors. When these anticipated rewards are not given, the person becomes

frustrated and aggression is elicited, often resulting in the expected reward being

obtained, but aggressive behavior becomes associated with a reward, making it more

likely to occur in similar situations in the future.

These five propositions form the foundation of Homans's theory and suggest that

a person's behavior can be predicted from knowledge of the outcomes produced by a

behavior in previous settings. In this way, previous history of reinforcement in a similar

situation should be a major determinant of current behavior, provided that the person

recognizes cues in the current setting that are similar to those in previous situations.

Exchange patterns

Homans (1961) suggested that the secret to human exchange is that each person

seeks to gain resources or behaviors that are more valuable to him or her than they are

costly to the other person and in exchange offers resources or behaviors that are more

valuable to the other person than they are costly to him or her. The fairness of the

exchange is determined by the rule of distributive justice, which states: "A man [or

woman] in an exchange relation with another will expect that the rewards of each man [or

woman] be proportional to his [or her] costs-the greater the rewards the greater the

costs-and that the net rewards, or profits, of each man be proportional to his [or her]

investments-the greater the investments the greater the profits"(Homans, 1961, p. 75).

The propositions about decision-making still apply when the exchange takes place

between two people. The people in the exchange are bound together by their past









experiences of exchanging resources with each other that conform to their mutual self-

interests (Roloff, 1981).

Interpersonal conflict

Homans (1961, 1974) suggested two sources of interpersonal conflict. One, the

"aggression-approval proposition" states that conflict is likely to arise when a person

either doesn't receive a reward that was expected or receives a punishment that wasn't

expected for a particular action. When these expectations are violated, people become

angry and more likely to engage in aggressive behavior. Many times the aggressive

behavior is rewarded, making those types of aggressive behaviors more likely in the

future.

For example, during the two weeks surrounding Christmas, package delivery

services typically double the volume that they handle. Workers, who are working harder

and for longer hours, get banned from taking vacation time and get pressured by their

supervisors to increase their workload during this busy season. Viewing this as an

unexpected and unfair punishment for the job they have been doing well all year long,

workers become angry and wish to retaliate. To get even, workers may load the trucks in

such a way that the packages shift in transit, crushing many of the boxes. Customers who

receive damaged packages then complain to the company and the company reprimands

the managers. Due to the time delay between the actual packing of the trucks and the

reprimand to the manager, the manager has no way of knowing who loaded the particular

truck so must take the responsibility him or herself. The workers, having gotten away

with it, are rewarded for their aggressive behavior, making it more likely, under similar

circumstances, to occur in the future.









The failure to provide expected rewards is not always a result of internal factors

or individual preference. Sometimes external factors make it difficult for partners to

provide rewards we have come to expect for certain behaviors. For example, a couple

who has a new baby may find that they do not have the time or energy to provide each

other with the attention and emotional and sexual support that they have in the past. In

this case, rewards are not being provided for behavior that has been previously

reinforced. If the external causes are not recognized, it could be a source of conflict for

the couple.

Another source of conflict is related the Homans' fourth proposition which

focuses on satiation. If a resource is provided so often that it ceases to be rewarding, a

person will perceive a similar situation of not being reinforced for his or her behavior,

creating conflict.

Blau's Economic Approach

Blau's approach is similar to Homans's, but Blau recognized emergent properties

as controllers of social exchange and relies upon economic principles as his theoretical

base, rather than operant psychology. Emergent properties "'are essentially relationships

between elements in a structure. The relationships are not contained in the elements,

though they could not exist without them, and they define the structure" (Blau, 1964, p.

3). An example of an emergent property in social exchange is the relationship between

the two people. The people may engage in certain interpersonal behaviors with each other

because they have been rewarded for doing so in the past. If, however, they do not find

the other's response rewarding, they may not continue behaving in the same manner in

the future.









Decision-Making

Blau (1964) suggested that in an exchange, a person will estimate the potential for

gain from a particular activity or behavior, compare it to alternative courses of action, and

choose the one which he expects to be most profitable. There are three types of

expectations that Blau suggested would influence a person's decision about which

alternative to choose: general, particular, and comparative.

General rewards are those that are available to people in different aspects of life

(i.e. a salary for performing one's job or emotional support from friends). These types of

expectations tend to be formed both by social norms about what a person should receive

and the previous levels of rewards gained by that particular person (Roloff, 1981). Blau

suggested that there is a range from a minimum level of reinforcement that an individual

will find satisfying to a maximum level, which is an ideal amount.

Particular expectations are rewards that are received from another person. They

not only assume that the other person's behaviors will conform to social norms, but also

that rewards gained from that particular person may vary when compared with

associating with other people.

Comparative expectations take into account the potential rewards from an

exchange minus the costs to assess the potential for profit. Blau (1964) stated that the

more profitable a relationship, the more committed a person will be to that relationship.

Blau's theory is similar to Homans's because they both posit that a person will

choose the alternative that is likely to be most profitable to him or her. However, whereas

Homans' theory assumes that reinforcement history is the defining variable in this

decision, Blau's theory suggests that expectations formed by the relationship with the









other person or from social norms may affect the choice as much or more than

reinforcement history.

Exchange Patterns

Blau emphasized the role that emergent properties play in social exchange. Social

exchanges are influenced by the relationship between the two individuals and by social

context, which includes the role a person plays and social norms that guide exchange.

Concepts such as the "going rate of exchange," which gives people an idea of the relative

values of two resources and is influenced by supply and demand, and "fair rate of

exchange" are examples of these social norms. Although Blau's perspective maintains

that people base their behaviors on expectations of profitable rewards, he also

acknowledged that emergent properties, defined by social relationships and structure, also

influence exchange patterns.

Interpersonal Conflict

Blau (1964) has argued that conflict is inherent in exchange relationships. People

are motivated to maximize rewards, minimize costs, and to establish an advantageous

position in a relationship. Blau (1964, p. 117) defined power as "the ability of persons or

groups to impose their will on others despite resistance through deterrence either in the

form of withholding regularly supplied rewards or in the form of punishment, inasmuch

as the former as well as the latter constitute, in effect, a negative sanction." A person

enhances his or her power over another by providing that person valuable and scarce

resources, those that cannot be found elsewhere. This creates dependence, which can be

used as leverage to demand compliance in other areas.

By supplying services in demand to others, a person establishes his [or her]









power over them. If he [or she] regularly renders needed services they cannot

readily obtain elsewhere, others become dependent on and obligated to him

[or her] for these services, and unless they can furnish other benefits to him

[or her] that produce interdependence by making him equally dependent on

them, their unilateral dependence obligates them to comply with his [or her]

requests lest he [or she] cease to continue to meet their needs. (Blau, 1964 p.

118).

An imbalance of power, however, does not necessarily constitute conflict.

Societies develop norms for what constitutes a fair exchange and only when a powerful

person violates these norms is it likely that conflict will occur. In other words, when

people feel that the more powerful person is misusing his or her superior position to gain

unfair returns from the weaker person, conflict will arise. If the more powerful person

exchanges resources in a socially approved manner, however, no conflict will occur. Blau

(1964) noted that although power differences in and of themselves do not constitute

conflict, their existence increases the probability of conflict.

Thibaut and Kelley's Theory of Interdependence

Thibaut and Kelley's (1959) theory is based upon two concepts: drive reduction

and gaming principles. Their approach assumes that internal drive mechanisms prompt

people's behavior. The reduction of the drive is pleasurable. Therefore, stimuli that are

associated with drive reduction become capable of evoking pleasure, and in this way

become rewards themselves. An example of one such drive is hunger. When a person

eats, the hunger drive is reduced, thus producing pleasure. Eating then becomes

associated with the pleasure of reducing the hunger drive and as a result, becomes a









reward itself. A social exchange therefore, is a process in which two people provide

resources to each other that reduce drives and fulfills each other's needs.

Game theory describes the ideal way that two people might go about resolving a

conflict and involves looking at the outcomes from a win/lose perspective for each of the

participants. Game theory involves a set of assumptions about the exchange, which

Thibaut and Kelley conceptualize as not holding true for all interpersonal exchanges.

Thus, game theory is not useful in predicting specific behaviors and outcomes. It does,

however, provide a good analogy for the way people analyze social exchanges.

Decision-making

In Thibaut and Kelley's model, decision-making is based upon reinforcement that

is a result of need fulfillment. Therefore, the likelihood that a person will perform a

particular behavior is a function of the internal and external stimuli associated with the

behavior, as well as the history of reinforcements gained by engaging in that behavior in

the past (Roloff, 1981). Behaviors that maximize rewards are more often chosen. In the

event that a situation or behavior is novel and there is no history of reward or cost,

Thibaut and Kelley suggest that people will learn to respond in a way that is reinforced

and will quickly adapt to those conditions of the situation.

Thibaut and Kelley's theory also makes predictions about how people evaluate

their relationships. People are thought to do this by comparing the outcomes they are

actually getting in their relationship with what they feel they should be getting from the

relationship (called by Thibaut and Kelley the comparison level). If the relationship

outcomes equal or exceed the comparison level, the person would find that relationship

satisfying. If, on the other hand, relationship outcomes fell below comparison level, the









person would be unsatisfied in the relationship. People also compare relationship

outcomes with what the lowest level of outcomes they will accept, based on what they

anticipate they could gain from alternative relationships (called by Thibaut and Kelley the

comparison level for alternatives). So if relationship outcomes meet or exceed the

comparison level for alternatives, the relationship is predicted to be stable. According to

this perspective, instability in a relationship results from the relationship outcomes falling

below the comparison level for alternatives. In this model, satisfaction and stability are

independent of each other. Therefore it is possible to have a relationship that is both

dissatisfying and stable, as well as a relationship that is both satisfying and unstable.

Exchange Patterns

When considering patterns of exchange, Thibaut and Kelley (1959) focused on

how people change their patterns of behavior to adjust to the responses of others. Because

outcomes are partially dependent on the behavior of the other person, people in

relationships will be interested in how they will be able to influence the other's behavior.

This type of power in relationships comes in two forms, fate control and behavior control.

Fate control can be defined as the ability to exert control over another person's outcomes

regardless of the other person's actions. For example, if one partner is dependent on the

other for a resource, the other partner can exert control over him or her by refusing to

provide that resource. Behavior control can be defined as the ability to vary the other

person's actions by changing one's own behavior. For example, person A in a dyad can

choose a behavior (e.g., taking a nap) that person B would only find rewarding if he or

she chose to engage in certain behaviors herself (e.g., also taking a nap or reading a book,

vs. having a conversation or playing ping-pong).









Thibaut and Kelley (1959) suggested that all social exchanges involve a matrix of

behaviors and the outcomes associated with those behaviors that the participants have to

choose from. In their later work, Kelley and Thibaut (1978) and Kelley (1979) described

three different types of matrices that can exist in social exchanges: the given matrix, the

effective matrix, and the dispositional matrix. The given matrix represents behaviors and

outcomes that are mandated by external factors, such as environmental and institutional

limitations and by internal factors, such as the skills of the participants in the exchange.

Therefore, the given matrix is difficult to change, as it involves changing either the

environment or the people.

If neither person in an exchange has desirable outcomes based on the given

matrix, they may treat the given alternatives and outcomes in ways that transform them

into something else. This transformation is called the effective matrix and represents an

expansion of alternatives that are considered in a social exchange. For example, if neither

person finds the available outcomes desirable, they may find that there is some value in

acting first. Therefore, the pair can vary who acts first in these types of exchanges and

find some reward in the exchange, even though the value of the outcomes themselves has

not changed.

The dispositional matrix represents the orientation that people have with respect

to how social exchanges should be handled. For example, some people view social

exchanges as competitions that are to be won or lost. Such people would view a

successful exchange as one that maximizes their outcomes relative to the other person's.

Other people view of a successful exchange is one that involves equity among the

participants in terms of the rewards that each receives as a result of the exchange.









Therefore, if one knows what type of disposition the other person has, one can predict

strategies the other person may use in an exchange and adjust his or her approach

accordingly.

Interpersonal Conflict

In Thibaut and Kelley's (1959) theory, conflict essentially involves response

interference and different interpretations of why the interference took place. Because

Thibaut and Kelley (1959) have argued that people in interpersonal relationships are

interdependent, the behaviors that they perform toward each other influence their mutual

outcomes. As a result, there is the possibility that people may engage in behavioral

sequences that increase their costs or that make the attainment of rewards less likely.

When one partner's actions or behaviors interfere with the other's attainment of rewards,

conflict arises.

A second factor that has the ability to reduce or escalate the level of conflict is the

interpretation of why the interference took place. If the cause of a conflict is assumed to

occur at the level of the given matrix, the conflict might be easily resolved. Kelley (1979)

suggested that conflicts often escalate into the area of the dispositional matrix. In this

type of attributional conflict, people conclude that their partners behave the way they do

because of some stable disposition or trait. Conflicts become more difficult to resolve if

the partners disagree on the cause of the behavior.

An example of this kind of conflict might involve a wife who goes to the opera

with her husband. During the performance, the husband falls asleep and begins to snore.

His snoring may interfere with her rewards from being at the opera in a number of ways,

thus creating conflict. Perhaps by snoring, he is distracting her so she can't pay attention









to the opera or maybe he is attracting unwanted attention from other audience members

and causing her some embarrassment. If this conflict remained at the level of the given

matrix, the wife could easily change the unpleasant environment by simply nudging her

husband awake and thereby resolving the conflict. If however, in seeking a reason for his

behavior, she attributes it to her husband being inconsiderate of her needs or to him trying

to retaliate for not wanting to go to the opera in the first place, the conflict will be more

difficult to resolve, particularly if her husband makes different attributions for his

behavior than she does.

Foa and Foa's Resource Theory

In their theory, which has roots in various psychological theories, Foa and Foa

(1974) suggested that adults have a variety of cognitive structures that allow for the

development of meaning in social exchanges. The acquisition of resources is the focus of

these exchanges and Foa and Foa categorized resources into six categories: love, services,

status, information, goods, and money.

Decision-making

According to Foa and Foa's (1974) theory, behavior is guided by motivational

states. People are motivated to engage in behaviors whenever their quantities of a

resource fall outside of an optimal range for that particular resource. The optimal range

consists of the points between the lower amount of a resource, below which the person

would feel the need for that resource and an upper level, above which the resource is not

needed and further acquisition of it ceases to be rewarding. Optimal ranges vary from

resource to resource, with some having a much larger range than others have. Love, for

example is considered to have a relatively narrow optimal range compared to money,









whose upper limit approaches infinity. If a person is within his or her optimal range for a

particular resource, meaning he or she has more than their lower level of a particular

resource, they can then afford to enter into an exchange for other resources. Their

effectiveness in an exchange, however, depends on the other person needing or desiring

the resource that they have to offer.

Exchange patterns

Foa and Foa (1976) articulated the following two propositions concerning the

rules that guide the exchange of resources: "(1) Every interpersonal behavior consists of

giving and/or taking away one or more resources; and (2) Behaviors that involve closely

allied resources occur more frequently than behaviors that involve less closely related

resources."(p. 106). These propositions suggest and research (Foa & Foa, 1974, 1976)

supports that the more similar resources are, the more likely they are to be exchanged. In

its most direct case, money for money, love for love, and service for service. This holds

more true for the more idiosyncratic resources, like love, status, and service, than it does

for more universal resources, like goods and money. If the same resource is not available

for exchange. then the preference is for a similar one (i.e., love for status and money for

goods). Satisfaction with an exchange tends to be higher when the exchanged resources

are similar and lower when they are dissimilar.

Interpersonal Conflict

Foa and Foa (1974) have identified two major sources of conflict. First, conflict

occurs when a person denies another a resource, creating some need. When a person's

supply of a resource drops below his or her optimal range, they feel a need and seek more

of that resource. When a person who has been a dependable source of rewards withholds









the supply, conflict occurs as the need for the resource becomes acute. Secondly,

conflicts may result from distortions in interpersonal communication. Conflicts emerge

when two people are unable to understand the resources being transferred.

Walster, Berscheid, and Walster's Equity Theory

Walster, Berscheid, and Walster's Equity theory has roots in the work of Homans

(1961) and Blau (1964), who explored the concept of distributive justice, which describes

the reactions of a person who feels that his or her outcomes are less desirable than those

of another person making similar investments. Adams (1965) used the concept of

distributive justice to posit an early form of equity theory in which equity was defined as:

the perception that the ratio of one's outcomes to his or her costs was equal to those of his

or her exchange partner, others engaged in exchange with the same partner, or someone

in a similar exchange relationship with a different partner. If the two ratios are unequal

then inequity exists, which creates an unpleasant emotional state. A person experiencing

inequity might do one of the following in order to achieve equity: (a) alter inputs or

outcomes, (b) cognitively distort inputs and outputs, (c) leave the exchange, (d) change

his or her perceptions of another person's inputs and outputs, or (e) find another person

for comparison. In a study of undergraduate couples, Hill, Rubin, & Peplau (1976) found

that perceived unequal involvement in the relationship was among the reasons most often

cited for breaking up.

Decision-Making

Walster, Berscheid, & Walster (1976) defined an equitable relationship as one in

which the relative gains of the participants are perceived as equal. These relative gains

are a ratio that represents a person's net reward by subtracting a person's inputs from his









or her outcomes and dividing by the absolute value of the inputs.

According to this theory, the decision-making process is relatively simple and the

goal straightforward. In the first of their four propositions, Walster et al. (1976, p. 6)

implied that people are selfish and will act in their own self-interests when engaging in

exchanges, "Individuals will try to maximize their outcomes (where outcomes equal

rewards minus costs)". They further emphasized this point by saying, "So long as

individuals perceive they can maximize their outcomes by behaving equitably they will

do so. Should they perceive that they can maximize their outcomes by behaving

inequitably, they will do so." (p. 16).

Exchange Patterns

The other three propositions offered by Walster et al. (1976) speak to the way

exchanges are conducted.

Proposition IIA: Groups of individuals can maximize collective reward by

evolving accepted systems for equity and will attempt to induce members to

accept and adhere to these systems.

Proposition 1IB: Groups will generally reward members who treat others

equitably and will generally punish members who treat others inequitably.

Proposition III: When individuals find themselves participating in inequitable

relationships, they will become distressed. The more inequitable the

relationship, the more distress they will feel.

Proposition IV: Individuals who discover that they are in inequitable

relationships will attempt to eliminate their distress by restoring equity. The

greater the inequity, the more distress they will feel, and the harder they will









try to restore equity. (P. 6)

When inequity exists in relationships, the theory predicts that it will be short-lived and

that individuals and/or society will seek ways to restore equity, in much the way Adams

(1965) suggested.

Interpersonal Conflict

Equity theory assumes that interpersonal conflict arises in a relationship

whenever people perceive inequities in the distribution of outcomes. Propositions III and

IV, discussed earlier, speak directly to this issue and suggest that people who find

themselves in an inequitable relationship become distressed, and that the greater the

inequity, the greater their distress and the harder they work to restore equity. Inequities

that are intentionally produced tend to create more distress and greater attempts to restore

equity than do inequities that are unintentionally produced.

Despite people's best efforts to enter into equitable relationships, inequities often

occur. Walster, Walster, and Berscheid (1978) suggested three reasons why inequities

may occur in a previously equitable relationship. First, as relationships develop, the

partners may learn more about each other and this new information reveals inequities that

were unknown at the outset of the relationship. Secondly, people may change during the

course of a relationship. For example, their needs may change and not be communicated

to each other. As these needs change, and behavior by the partner stays the same,

outcomes change, inequity is perceived, and conflict develops. Third, inequities may be

the result of changes in the relationship due to external events, such as the birth of a baby,

as mentioned earlier.









In summary, each of these five approaches offers a slightly different explanation

of social exchange. Primarily, the differences lie in their explanation of the decision-

making process people go through in exchanges and the mechanisms by which exchanges

take place. Although differing in some of their specifics, these five theories of social

exchange share elements in common. All of the approaches assert that people enter into

social exchanges with the expectation that they will be rewarded for doing so. People also

have an expectation about the amount of reward that they should receive from entering

into a particular exchange. These expectations are set either by a person's past history of

similar exchanges, social norms and standards, or by comparison with others, depending

upon which theory is consulted. When these expectations are not met, all five approaches

suggest that interpersonal conflict results.

Summary


This chapter has reviewed the scholarly literature on relationship conflict, from

the perspective of both bioevolutionary theory and the social exchange theories. Both of

these perspectives offer an explanation of conflict, but they offer differing views of how

conflict is created in relationships. They also offer different predictions regarding the

types of conflict that people will experience in relationships. The accuracy of these

differing predictions will be tested by the studies reported in this dissertation.














CHAPTER 3
METHOD


This chapter describes the methods used to conduct two studies. Study 1 linked

the items that were generated in a preliminary study to the two theories of interest, Buss's

bioevolutionary theory and social exchange theory. Participants in Study 1 attended a

training session to ensure that they understood each of the theories. Following that

session, they rated each of the items on the degree to which it can be explained

effectively by each theory. The scores of all of the raters were averaged for each problem,

creating three theory-fit scores for each problem, two for bioevolutionary theory (one for

males, one for females) and one for social exchange theory. These theory-fit scores are

intended to indicate the degree to which a particular problem can be explained by a

theory. The reason for two theory-fit scores being calculated for bioevolutionary theory is

that Buss's theory makes sex-differentiated predictions for areas of conflict. These

theory-fit scores were used in combination with the data from Study 2 to assess how

much each theory accounts for the problems that college students report as occurring

most frequently and those they view as most important.

Study 2 assessed the frequency with which collegians in another sample

experienced these problems and the level of importance they placed on the problems. The

participants in this study were asked to indicate on rating scales, how often each problem

had happened to them and how important each of the problems was to them. These data,

when combined with the theory-fit scores generated in Study 1, provided a quantitative









measure of the extent to which each of the theories accounts for the frequency of each of

the problems, the importance of each of the problems, and the combination of frequency

and importance of college dating problems.

Study 1: Linking Theories to Problems


Once students have identified a list of dating relevant problems that they have

experienced, it becomes possible to assess to what degree these problems can be

understood by these theories. The purpose of this study was to gain a measure of the

degree to which each of the items generated in the preliminary study can be explained by

each of the theories (bioevolutionary and social exchange). The result of this step was

three theory-fit scores for each item, two scores for bioevolutionary theory (a score for

males and another for females) and one for social exchange theory (which makes no sex

differentiated predictions).


Method


Participants. Raters were recruited from the psychology subject pool, which is

made up of students in a general psychology course. Raters were kept blind to the nature

of the study until they were finished with their ratings. Participating raters received six

research participation credits toward the 8 that were required for their class. Of the 20

raters who participated, 13 of them were male and 7 of them were female. Four

participants' scores (3 male and I female) were removed from the study because they did

not complete the answer sheet correctly and their data could not be used. Of the raters

whose data was used, there were 6 females and 10 males. Nine raters identified as

Caucasian, 4 as African-American, and 3 as Hispanic. None of the raters identified as









Asian-American, Native-American, Multiracial, or other. Fifteen raters indicated that

they were heterosexual and one identified as homosexual. Seven raters were freshmen, 5

were sophomores and 4 were juniors. The age range of raters was 17-20 years with a

mean of 18.96 years.

Questionnaire. The Raters' Item instrument consisted of three parts, each

containing the same 80-item list of the problems that were generated in the preliminary

study (see Appendix A). Two of these 80-item lists were used to create theory-fit scores

for bioevolutionary theory and one was used to create theory-fit scores for social

exchange theory. For this study, it was necessary to generate two theory-fit scores for

Buss's bioevolutionary model, one for men reporting the problem and one for women

reporting the problem. This was necessary because in Buss's model, men and women

have different reproductive strategies. Therefore, a particular problem may be more or

less representative of Buss's model, depending on whether a man or a woman

experienced it.

Procedure. The raters attended a 3-hour session during which they learned about

the theories and how to evaluate the fit between problems and the two theories.

Following the training portion of the session, they rated each of the items generated in the

preliminary study. During the training portion of the session, each rater was given two

articles to read. each of which outlined one of the theories of interest, bioevolutionary and

social exchange (See Appendix B for the articles).

After the raters read the articles, they discussed the theories as a group with the

trainer, who was a white, non-Hispanic, female, college senior and a psychology major.









In order to reduce demand characteristics, she was also kept blind regarding the

hypothesis of the study.

To ensure that the participants understood the two theories, they took a ten-item

multiple choice test for each theory (see Appendix C for the questions and answers). The

correct answers were read to the group by the trainer, who also answered questions that

the participants had about the test items and answers. Raters who scored 70% or higher

on the multiple choice tests were considered sufficiently knowledgeable of the two

theories. The mean scores on these tests for bioevolutionary theory and social exchange

theory were 90% and 84%, respectively. To further test the raters and ensure that they

understood the task, after training and testing, the raters evaluated sample items that

previously have been rated by the author (see appendix D for sample items and appendix

E for sample ratings). These sample ratings were simply to test the rater's understanding

of the task. The theory-fit scores used in this study came from the rater's actual ratings of

the items on the final Rater's List. The items in the sample set are items that were not

included in the final Raters' List due to low frequency. Two dissertation committee

members have corroborated these author ratings.

Raters were then given the entire list of items from the preliminary data collection

and instructed to assign theory ratings to each item regarding the degree to which it can

be explained by each theory. Participants rated items using 5-point scales with values

ranging from 0 to 4, where 0 = The Theory Cannot Explain it At All and 4 = The Theory

Can Explain it Well. They used scannable answer sheets and rated the entire list for each

theory, one at a time. The order in which they rated the theories was varied across the









raters to control for any order effects. Although varying the order does not eliminate

fatigue effects, it does control for them by distributing them similarly across the theories.

All of the raters' scores for each theory for each item were averaged to create

three composite scores for each item, indicating that item's degree of fit with each theory

(see Appendix G for a list of items and their theory-fit scores). As mentioned earlier, the

reason that there are three theory-fit scores for each item when there are only two theories

is that there were two scores generated for the bioevolutionary theory based on whether

the problem was reported by a man or a woman.

Study 2: Problem Frequency and Importance


The purpose of this study was to quantify how often college students are

experiencing each of the problems identified in the preliminary study and how

importantly they view each problem. With this frequency and importance information,

the study attempted to answer three questions: (a) To what extent does each of the two

theories account for the dating problems most frequently experienced by college students,

(b) To what extent does each of the theories account for the dating problems that college

students identified as most important, and (c) To what extent does each of the theories

account for these problems when frequency and importance are combined?

Method

Participants.

Participants were a separate set of undergraduates who were also recruited from

the psychology subject pool at the University of Florida during the Fall Semester of 2000.

For participating, the students were given one research participant credit point in their

psychology class. The average age of the participants was 18.75 years. Of the 112









students whose data were used, 38 of them were male and 74 of them were female. Data

from three participants were removed because they did not complete the survey correctly.

Seventy-eight participants identified themselves as Anglo-American/Caucasian, 11 as

African-American/Black, 12 as Asian-American, 7 as Hispanic/Latino(a) American, 0 as

Native American, American Indian, or Pacific Islander, 2 as Biracial/Multiracial

American, and 2 as other. One hundred eight participants indicated that they were

heterosexual, I identified as bisexual, and 3 indicated that they were homosexual.

Seventy-seven of the participants were freshmen, 19 were sophomores, 10 were juniors

and 6 were seniors. Of the 112 participants, 6 indicated that they had never been in a

relationship, 62 indicated that they had been in a relationship, but were not in one at the

time of the study, and 44 indicated that the were in a relationship at the time of the study.

Questionnaire.

The Dating Problems Questionnaire is a 160-item questionnaire divided into two

identical 80-item sections (see Appendix F). These 80 items are the ones that were

retained from the freehand responses of the scale described in the preliminary study and

rated in Study 1.

On the first section of the Dating Problems Questionnaire, participants rated how

often they have encountered the problem identified in each of the items. The items were

rated on a five-point scale with values ranging from never (0) through rarely (1),

sometimes (2), often (3), to always (4).

In the second section, participants rated how important each of the problems was

to them. Again, the items were rated on a five-point scale with values ranging from not at

all important (0). through slightly important (1), moderately important (2), important (3),

to very important (4). The items were generally kept in their original form, but were









occasionally adjusted for grammar, made gender non-specific, and written in the first

person.

Demographic information was collected in the "special codes" section of the

answer sheet. This information included the participant's sex (male or female), race

(Anglo-American/Caucasian, African-American/Black, Asian-American,

Hispanic/Latino(a) American, Native American, American Indian, or Pacific Islander,

Biracial/Multiracial American, or other), year in school, age, and sexual orientation

(heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual).

Participants who have never been in a relationship were included in the final

analysis. The information gained by their inclusion is important to this research because it

represents data from a group that may not have been successful in dating precisely

because of some of the problems being researched in this study. Forty-seven of the 160

items in this survey (those related to how frequently a participant has experienced a

problem with someone he or she has actually dated) were not relevant to participants who

have never dated, so they were instructed not answer those questions. The section that

asks about the importance of problems made provisions for participants who have never

actually experienced those specific problems, so their data were included there. Although

this decision creates a potential limitation in the study, not to include people who have

never been in a relationship would have created an even greater limitation. That would

have resulted in excluding those who are likely to have been most affected by the very

problems that this research is investigating.

Procedure.

Participants completed the questionnaire during a designated session in the

Psychology Building at the University of Florida. Each participant was given a sheet









containing the instructions and the 160 items and a computer scannable answer sheet, on

which they recorded their responses to the items. The instructions for the first half of the

questionnaire were as follows: "Do not put your name on the answer sheet. Please answer

all of the questions on the answer sheet. Use the following scale to indicate how often

you have encountered the following problems in finding and selecting people to date."

A second set of instructions read, "Use the following scale to indicate how often

you have personally experienced the following problems with people you have actually

dated. If you have never been in a relationship, skip this section and continue with item

number 81." For the second half of the questionnaire, the instructions were as follows:

"For the rest of the items, use the following scale to indicate how important each of the

following problems in finding and selecting people to date is to you. Please rate each

item. If you haven't experienced a particular problem, please use the scale to indicate

how important it would be to you if you were to experience it." A second set of

instruction within that section read, "The following is a list of problems you may or may

not have experienced with people you have actually dated. Use the scale below to

indicate how important each of these problems is to you. Please rate each item. If you

haven't experienced a particular problem, please use the scale to indicate how important

it would be to you if you were to experience it." Participants were given permission not

to respond to any item with which there are uncomfortable.

Analyses

For each participant, individual item scores for frequency and importance were

multiplied by the theory-fit scores for the corresponding item, as calculated in Study 1. In

the bioevolutionary condition, the frequency and importance ratings for males were

multiplied by the theory-fit scores for males. Likewise, the frequency and importance









ratings for females were multiplied by the theory-fit scores for females. Male and female

frequency and importance ratings were multiplied by the same theory-fit scores in the

social exchange condition. Coefficients for each item were calculated for each participant

for both theories in each of the following conditions: frequency rating X theory-fit score,

importance rating X theory-fit score, and frequency rating X importance rating X theory-

fit score. The difference between the bioevolutionary and social exchange coefficients in

each condition was calculated across all items. These differences were averaged across

all items and the resulting mean differences were evaluated for significance using a series

of three dependent t-tests, one for each condition (theory X frequency, theory X

importance, and theory X frequency X importance). In all three of these t-tests, the theory

coefficient (bioevolutionary theory coefficient and social exchange theory coefficient)

served as the dependent variable.

In the first of these three t-tests, the interaction of problem frequency rating X

problem importance rating X theory-fit score will serve as the dependent variable. What

follows is a detailed example of the computation process. Table 1 provides a graphic

example of this computation process. So, if Participant 1, a male, rates Item 1 on the

Study 2 questionnaire a 3 for frequency and rates Item 81 (which has the same content as

Item 1) a 4 for importance, those two scores would be multiplied by each other and by

each of the theory-fit scores for that item, for men. For this example, 2.6 will serve as the

bioevolutionary theory-fit score for males and 1.8 will serve as the social exchange

theory-fit score for these items. So Item 1, for this participant, would have two resulting

coefficients; problem frequency rating X problem importance rating X bioevolutionary

theory-fit score [in this case (3) (4) (2.6) = 31.2] and problem frequency rating X problem









importance rating X social exchange theory-fit score [in this case, (3) (4) (1.8) = 21.6].

The difference between these two coefficients would then be calculated [in this case, 31.2

- 21.6 = 9.6]. The social exchange coefficient will always be subtracted from the

bioevolutionary coefficient. If the resulting difference is > 0, then bioevolutionary theory

is favored for that item. If the difference is < 0, then social exchange theory is favored for

that item. The coefficient differences will be summed across all participants across all

items. Table 1 illustrates this example for 2 participants across 2 items.



Table 1. Example of the calculations for achieving the difference scores.


Note. TFIT = Theory-fit score. FREQ = participant's frequency score tor that item. IMP
= participant's importance score for that item. BIOCOEF = bioevolutionary coefficient
for that participant for that item. SECOEF = social exchange coefficient for that
participant for that item. DIFF SCORE = the difference between bioevolutionary and
social exchange coefficients for that participant for that item (BIOCOEF SECOEF).
TOTAL = sum of all coefficients and difference scores across all items and participants.

In the second of these t-tests. the coefficient resulting from problem frequency

rating X theory-fit score will serve as the dependent variable. Using the above example

with the same participant on the same item, the final coefficients would be 7.8 [(3) (2.6)

= 7.8] for bioevolutionary theory and 5.4 [(3) (1.8) = 5.4] for social exchange theory.


Bioevolutionary Theory Social Exchange Theory
Subject THFIT FREQ IMP BIO THFIT FREQ IMP SE DIFF
(Item) COEF COEF SCORI
1 (1) 2.6 3 4 31.2 1.8 3 4 21.6 9.6
male
1 (2) 1.8 2 1 3.6 2.0 2 1 4.0 -0.4
male
7 (1) 1.4 1 0 0 1.8 1 0 0 0
female
7 (2) 3.1 4 2 24.8 2.0 4 2 16 8.8
female
TOTAL 59.6 41.6 18









The difference score would be 2.4 [7.8 5.4 = 2.4]. These difference scores will again be

summed across all participants and all items.

Finally, in the third of these three t-tests, problem importance rating X theory-fit

score will serve as the dependent variable. Using the above numbers as an example the

final coefficients would be 10.4 [(4) (2.6) = 10.4] for bioevolutionary theory and 7.2 [(4)

(1.8) = 7.2] for social exchange theory. The resulting difference score would be 3.2 [10.4

- 7.2 = 3.2].

Support for the Study 2 hypothesis will come from at least one of these three

analyses revealing a significantly larger bioevolutionary coefficient than social exchange

coefficient, and that in no case is the social exchange coefficient significantly larger than

the comparable bioevolutionary coefficient. The condition that tests the interaction of

problem frequency, problem importance and theory-fit score is of particular interest. To

guard against inflated family-wise error, a Bonferoni corrected alpha level of p <.017

(.05/3) will serve as the significance level for each of these tests.

Summary

This chapter has described 2 studies that, together, assessed the utility of Buss's

bioevolutionary theory in accounting for collegiate dating problems. To test the utility of

Buss's theory, it was compared to social exchange theory. A preliminary study, entitled

Problem Identification, used a free-response survey to identify problems that collegians

have experienced finding people to date and problems that they have had with people

they have actually dated. Study 1, entitled Linking Theories to Problems, obtained a

quantitative measure of the degree to which each of the theories can explain each of the

problems listed in the preliminary study. Study 2, entitled Problem Frequency and






88

Importance, measured how often collegians experienced the problems generated in the

preliminary study and how important each of the problems was to them. The combination

of these two studies compared the theories of interest (bioevolutionary and social

exchange) with respect to the proportion of college dating problems that they accounted

for. With this information, this research sought to determine whether Buss's

bioevolutionary theory accounted for a greater proportion of the problems that collegians

experience most frequently and that they find most important than what is accounted for

by social exchange theory.















CHAPTER 4
RESULTS


Study 1

Study 1 linked the 80 items that were generated in the preliminary study to the

two theories of interest, Buss's bioevolutionary theory and social exchange theory.

Theory-fit scores were calculated for each of the 80 items in the study, for each of the

three theory conditions (bioevolutionary-male, bioevolutionary-female, and social

exchange). These theory-fit scores were generated by calculating the mean scores across

raters for each item in each condition (see Appendix G for these scores).

Reliability of Judges

Interrater reliability was assessed for each theory across all items and all raters

using a series of three intraclass correlations, using the following equation:

Rc = MS, MSe,
MSp

where R. signifies that the intraclass correlation estimates the reliability of the composite

rating, MSp represents the mean squares for items, and Mse stands for mean square for

error. Because the composite theory-fit scores were the average ratings of all judges on

an underlying continuum, the intraclass correlation is preferred over the standard

equation:

Ri = MS MS.
MSp + MSc (K-1)









where Ri indicates that the average reliability of a singe rater is calculated, MSp

represents the mean squares for items, MSe represents mean squares for error, and K is

the number of judges rating each item. Re is preferred because Ri gives the average

reliability of a single judge and undervalues the interrater reliability of the composite

scores (Tinsley & Weiss, 2000).

The results of the intraclass correlation analyses, shown in Table 2, were

significant for the male and female conditions of the bioevolutionary theory (r = .83 and r

= .84 respectively), but were not significant for the social exchange condition (r = .35).




Table 2. Intraclass Correlations for Raters Across Theory.
Theory n Mean Square Mean Square re
for Items for Error
Bioevolutionary 16 6.43 1.12 .83
Male
Bioevolutionary 16 6.64 1.06 .84
Female
Social 16 1.71 1.11 .35
Exchange

Hypothesis Tests

It was hypothesized that there would be a main effect for theory and that there

would be neither a main effect for sex of the rater nor an interaction effect between sex of

the rater and theory, on the theory-fit scores. The analysis used to evaluate this hypothesis

was a mixed-model analysis of variance (ANOVA), with theory (bioevolutionary theory

male, bioevolutionary theory female, and social exchange theory) serving as the within-

subjects independent variable, and rater sex (male vs. female) serving as the between-

subjects independent variable. Rater-generated theory-fit scores, again, served as the

dependent variable.









The results of the ANOVA, shown in Table 3, support the hypothesis that there is

a significant main effect for theory (F[2] = 5.75, p < .01). The hypothesis that there

would be no significant main effect for sex of the rater was not supported (F[l] = 4.93, p

< .05). This significant sex main effect is not likely to influence the validity of the Study

2 hypothesis test because the ratio of male to female judges was constant across all theory

conditions. The hypothesis that there would be no significant interaction effect between

theory and sex of the rater was supported (F[2] = 1.25, p = .30). This finding of no

significant interaction of theory and sex of rater indicates that it is appropriate for the

ratings of males and females raters to be combined in the theory-fit ratings.




Table 3. Test of Theory and Sex Effects on Theory-fit Scores.
Source of df Mean Square F value p-value
Variance
Theory 2 0.54 5.75 0.006
Sex 1 0.46 4.93 0.032
Theory*Sex 2 0.12 1.25 0.298

Study 2

Study 2 collected frequency and importance data for the 80 items in the

preliminary study. These data were combined with the data collected in Study 1 to assess

the contribution each theory made toward explaining these problems. The hypothesis

tested in Study 2 was that the bioevolutionary coefficient resulting from the interaction of

problem frequency, problem importance and the Study 1 theory-fit scores will be

significantly greater than the comparable social exchange coefficient, suggesting that

bioevolutionary theory accounts for a significantly greater proportion of the variance in

problem frequency and importance than social exchange theory. Support for this

hypothesis would come from at least one of these three analyses revealing a significantly









larger bioevolutionary coefficient than social exchange coefficient, and that in no case is

the social exchange coefficient significantly larger than the comparable bioevolutionary

coefficient.

Analyses

As detailed in the methods section, for each participant, individual item scores for

frequency and importance were multiplied by the theory-fit scores for the corresponding

item as calculated in Study 1. In the bioevolutionary condition, the frequency and

importance ratings for males were multiplied by the theory-fit scores for males. Likewise

the frequency and importance ratings for females were multiplied by the theory-fit scores

for females. Male and female frequency and importance ratings were multiplied by the

same theory-fit scores in the social exchange condition. Coefficients for each item were

calculated for each participant for both theories in each of the following conditions:

frequency rating X theory-fit score, importance rating X theory-fit score, and frequency

rating X importance rating X theory-fit score. The difference between the bioevolutionary

and social exchange coefficients in each condition was calculated across all items. These

differences were averaged across all items and the resulting mean differences were

evaluated for significance using a series of three dependent t tests, one for each condition

(theory X frequency, theory X importance, and theory X frequency X importance). In all

three of these t tests, the theory coefficient (bioevolutionary theory coefficient and social

exchange theory coefficient) served as the dependent variable.

In the first of these three t tests, the interaction of problem frequency rating X

problem importance rating X theory-fit score served as the dependent variable. In the

second of these t tests, the coefficient resulting from problem frequency rating X theory-









fit score served as the dependent variable. Finally, in the third of these three t tests,

problem importance rating X theory-fit score served as the dependent variable.

Support for the Study 2 hypothesis will result from at least one of these three

analyses revealing a significantly larger bioevolutionary coefficient than social exchange

coefficient, and that in no case is the social exchange coefficient significantly larger than

the comparable bioevolutionary coefficient. The condition that tests the interaction of

problem frequency, problem importance and theory-fit score is of particular interest. To

guard against inflated family-wise error, a Bonferoni corrected alpha level p <.017

(.05/3) will serve as the significance level for each of these tests.

Results


The first dependent t-test from Study 2 tested the hypothesis that the

bioevolutionary coefficient resulting from the interaction of problem frequency, problem

importance, and theory-fit score would be significantly greater than the comparable social

exchange coefficient. The analysis supported this hypothesis (t = 4.25, p < .01). This

finding indicates that the bioevolutionary theory explained a greater proportion of the

most important and frequently occurring problems listed than social exchange theory did.

A second dependent t-test tested whether the bioevolutionary coefficient resulting

from the interaction of problem frequency and theory-fit score, (ignoring problem

importance) was greater than the comparable social exchange coefficient. This hypothesis

was also supported by the analysis (t = 4.99, p < .01). A third dependent t-test tested

whether the bioevolutionary coefficient resulting from the interaction between problem

importance and theory-fit score, (ignoring problem frequency) was greater than the









comparable social exchange coefficient. This was not supported by the analysis (t = 0.88,

p = .39). Table 4 details the results of these analyses.




Table 4. Results of T-Test for Differences Between Theories Across Both Sexes.
Condition BIO Mean SOEX Mean t-Value p-value
FREQ*IMP*THFIT 5.66 5.47 4.25 0.0001
FREQ*THFIT 2.00 1.94 4.99 0.0001
IMP*THFIT 4.54 4.52 0.88 0.3787
Note. FREQ = problem frequency IMP = problem importance THFIT = theory-fit score
BIO = bioevolutionary theory SOEX = social exchange theory


Research Question

The research question sought to determine whether the differences found between

bioevolutionary and social exchange theories were qualified by a theory X sex of

participant interaction. This question was analyzed by a mixed-model ANOVA, with

theory serving as the within-subjects effect, and participant sex (male vs. female) serving

as the between-subjects effect. Theory-fit score X problem frequency rating X problem

importance rating served as the dependent variable.

The results of the ANOVA showed no significant interaction effect between

theory and sex of participant (F[1] = 3.16, p = .08). The results of the ANOVA for all

three conditions are shown in Table 5.




Table 5. Test of Theory by Sex Interaction for Study 2 Data.
Condition df Mean Square F value p-value
Frequency only 1 0.03 4.21 0.04
Importance 1 0.70 59.25 0.0001
only
Frequency x 1 0.33 3.16 0.08
Importance




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