What Determines Mate Retention Strategy?
Firstly, the researchers found that female judgments of their own and their partner’s mate value to be related, in other words, women who perceived themselves to be of high mate value judged their partners to be of high mate value also.
In terms of whether it was male or female mate value that determined mate retention behavior, they found that higher female mate value to be associated with greater use of male benefit-provisioning mate retention behavior. However, lower female mate value was not associated with male use of cost-inflicting mate retention strategies. The only exception being the association between low female mate value and male direct guarding behavior. Therefore, the female mate value only explains half the story.
In terms of male mate value, the researchers found that high male mate value to be positively associated with benefit-provisioning mate retention behaviour and low male mate value to be associated with cost-inflicting mate retention behaviour. More specifically low male mate value was associated with male use of direct guarding and intrasexual negative inducements (pointing out the faults of other men). Therefore, it would seem that male mate value more than female mate value is the factor that determines male mate retention behaviour.
Indeed, when the researchers compared men’s or women’s mate value, in determining mate retention behavior, they found that it is men’s more than women’s mate value which more strongly determines both benefit-provisioning and cost-inflicting mate retention behavior. More specifically, men’s but not women’s mate value predicts the use of direct guarding and public signals of possession.
The only exception was that it was women’s but not men’s mate value that predicted male use of positive inducements. The researchers explain this by saying that positive inducements are directly connected to a man’s appreciation of his partner’s attractiveness, which is one of the main attributes of female mate value.
Overall then, male mate value more than female mate value seems to determine the type of mate retention behaviour, with males of higher mate value performing more benefit-provisioning behaviour and males of lower mate value performing more cost-inflicting mate retention behaviour.
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It is worth noting that in this study the researchers used only female reports of mate value of both themselves and their partners. Nevertheless, the finding is consistent with previous research on partner violence which has found that men of lower socioeconomic status or in low-status jobs and thus of lower mate value engage in more domestic violence than men of higher socioeconomic status or those in higher status jobs.
The finding could be linked to an additional factor such as male feelings of self-worth, but either way, it is concerning.
Miner, E., Starratt, V. G. & Shackleford, T. K., (2009). ‘It’s Not All about Her: Men’s Mate Value and Mate Retention’. Personality and Individual Differences, 47 (3), 214-218.
Written By Martin Graff Originally Published In Psychology Today