Love and Marriage

Kevin Lewis

September 16, 2009

Mrs. Wilson for Congress:


Kind toward whom? Mate preferences for personality traits are target specific

Aaron Lukaszewski & James Roney
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Previous mate preference studies indicate that people prefer partners whose personalities are extremely kind and trustworthy, but relatively nondominant. This conclusion, however, is based on research that leaves unclear whether these traits describe the behavior a partner directs toward oneself, toward other classes of people or both. Because the fitness consequences of partners' behaviors likely differed depending on the classes of individuals toward whom behaviors were directed, we predicted that mate preferences for personality traits would change depending on the specific targets of a partner's behavioral acts. Consistent with this, two experiments demonstrated that people prefer partners who are extremely kind and trustworthy when considering behaviors directed toward themselves or their friends/family, but shift their preferences to much lower levels of these traits when considering behaviors directed toward other classes of individuals. In addition, both sexes preferred partners who direct higher levels of dominance toward members of the partner's own sex than toward any other behavioral target category, with women preferring levels of dominance toward other men as high as — or higher than — levels of kindness and trustworthiness. When asked to rate traits for which the behavioral target was left unspecified, furthermore, preferences were very similar to self-directed preferences, suggesting that previous trait-rating studies have not measured preferences for partners' behaviors directed toward people other than oneself. These findings may provide a basic contribution to the mate preference literature via their demonstration that ideal standards for romantic partners are importantly qualified by the targets of behavioral acts.

Mimicry and seduction: An evaluation in a courtship context

Nicolas Gueacuteguen
Social Influence, October 2009, Pages 249-255

Recent studies have found that mimicking the verbal and nonverbal behavior of strangers enhances their liking of the individual who mimicked them. An experiment was carried out in two bars during six sessions of speed dating for which young women confederates volunteered to mimic or not some verbal expressions and nonverbal behaviors of a man for 5 minutes. Data revealed that the men evaluated the dating interaction more positively when the woman mimicked them, and that mimicry was associated with a higher evaluation score of the relation and the sexual attractiveness of the woman. Mimicry appears to influence perceptions of physical attributes in addition to personal and social attributes.

'Mortgage Moms' and 'More Responsible Fathers': Parenthood and Issue Attitudes in the 2008 Presidential Election

Laurel Elder & Steven Greene
North Carolina State University Working Paper, August 2009

This paper employs 2008 American National Election Studies (NES) data to explore whether parents are any different than their peers without children in terms of their views on important policy issues, their presidential vote choice, and their feelings towards Sarah Palin. We find that the very personal and intense act of raising children is a politically defining experience. Rather than finding parents to be a distinctively conservative group, as they are often portrayed in the media, our results support the idea advanced by some feminist thinkers that time spent raising children has liberalizing political effects on women. Moreover, the data reveal that on social welfare issues and to a lesser extent national security and social issues parenthood pushes women and men in opposite ideological directions. Finally, despite media coverage suggesting Sarah Palin's presence would attract parents, especially mothers, to the Republican ticket, we find no support for this idea.

Female reproductive strategy predicts preferences for sexual dimorphism in male faces

Fhionna Moore, Miriam Law Smith, Clare Cassidy & David Perrett
Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, September 2009, Pages 211-224

The aim of the current studies was to test an assumption that variation in female preferences for sexually dimorphic male facial characteristics reflects strategic optimisation of investment in offspring. A negative relationship was predicted between ideal number of children and preferences for masculine male face shapes, as the benefits of securing paternal investment should outweigh the benefits of securing good genes as the costs of raising offspring increase. In Study 1 desired number of children and preferences for masculine face shapes were compared in a sample of female students. In study 2, the prediction was tested in a sample with a wider age profile while controlling for relationship status. Preferences for explicit partner characteristics were also assessed. The prediction was supported: women who desired a higher number of children preferred more feminine male face shapes and ranked cues to investment of parental care over cues to immunocompetence in a partner more highly than those who desired fewer children. Results indicate that female mate preferences vary with reproductive strategy and support assumptions that preferences for feminine male faces reflect preferences for "good dads".

Fatal (Fiscal) Attraction: Spendthrifts and Tightwads in Marriage

Scott Rick, Deborah Small & Eli Finkel
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, February 2009

Although much research finds that "birds of a feather flock together," surveys of married adults suggest that opposites attract when it comes to emotional reactions toward spending. That is, "tightwads," who generally spend less than they would ideally like to spend, and "spendthrifts," who generally spend more than they would ideally like to spend, tend to marry each other, consistent with the notion that people are attracted to mates who possess characteristics dissimilar to those they deplore in themselves (Klohnen and Mendelsohn 1998). In spite of this complementary attraction, spendthrift/tightwad differences within a marriage predict conflict over finances, which in turn predict diminished marital well-being. These findings underscore the importance of studying the relationships between money, consumption, and happiness at an interpersonal level.


Why Love Has Wings and Sex Has Not: How Reminders of Love and Sex Influence Creative and Analytic Thinking

Jens Förster, Kai Epstude & Amina Özelsel
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

This article examines cognitive links between romantic love and creativity and between sexual desire and analytic thought based on construal level theory. It suggests that when in love, people typically focus on a long-term perspective, which should enhance holistic thinking and thereby creative thought, whereas when experiencing sexual encounters, they focus on the present and on concrete details enhancing analytic thinking. Because people automatically activate these processing styles when in love or when they experience sex, subtle or even unconscious reminders of love versus sex should suffice to change processing modes. Two studies explicitly or subtly reminded participants of situations of love or sex and found support for this hypothesis.


Insurance Or Bargaining? The Impact of Spousal Labor Supply on Unemployment Duration

Jing Liu
University of Texas Working Paper, June 2009

This paper theoretically studies and empirically estimates (1) how spousal labor supply affects bargaining among couples over their private consumption, and (2) the impact of this intrahousehold bargaining on couples' reservation wage and unemployment durations. We consider a model of household job search in which the outcomes of bargaining are determined by the sharing rule of Chiappori (1992), a function defining the dependency of private consumption on couples' employment status. This model allows household members to rationally expect their share within the household and decide on labor supply recursively. Using the panel data of SIPP 2001, our finding shows that private consumption of unemployed husbands shrinks to 85% of that of employed husbands in US, revealing employment is crucial in husbands' bargaining with their spouses. The estimates suggest asymmetric household unemployment durations: the more husbands earn, the longer wives search for jobs; whereas the more wives earn, the sooner husbands find jobs.


Variation in testosterone levels and male reproductive effort: Insight from a polygynous human population

Alexandra Alvergne, Charlotte Faurie & Michel Raymond
Hormones and Behavior, forthcoming

Recent evidence suggests that, in humans, variations in testosterone (T) levels between men reflect their differential allocation in mating versus parenting efforts. However, most studies have been conducted in urbanized, monogamous populations, making generalizations from them questionable. This study addresses the question of whether indicators of male reproductive effort are associated with variations in salivary testosterone levels in a polygynous population of agriculturists in rural Senegal. We first show that pair-bonding and/or transition to fatherhood is associated with T profiles: married fathers (N = 53) have lower morning T levels than unmarried non-fathers (N = 28). Second, among fathers, individual differences in parenting effort, as well as variations in mating effort, predict morning T levels in fathers. Indeed, men highly investing in parental care show lower morning T levels. Moreover, among men under 40, polygynous men show higher morning T levels than monogamous men. Taken together with previous results in monogamous settings, these findings suggest that the endocrine regulation of reproductive effort is probably a general feature of human populations.


Why Does Getting Married Make You Fat? Incentives and Appearance Maintenance

Uri Gneezy & Jason Shafrin
University of California Working Paper, March 2009

Married individuals weigh more on average than non-married individuals. We suggest that exiting the dating market decreases one's incentive to maintain their appearance and leads to an increase in body weight. We hypothesize that it is most difficult for individuals to exit a traditional marriage, and easiest for individuals to exit if the couple is cohabitating but not legally married. Using a 14-year panel data set, we test whether or not the ease of exiting a domestic relationship affects weight gain. For men, we find that the type of domestic relationship has little impact on weight gain. For women, however, marriage leads to a 2.4 kg weight gain compared to cohabitating.


Stress and Reactivity to Daily Relationship Experiences: How Stress Hinders Adaptive Processes in Marriage

Lisa Neff & Benjamin Karney
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, September 2009, Pages 435-450

Maintaining a relationship requires that intimates successfully navigate the ups and downs of their daily experiences with their partners. Intimates whose daily global satisfaction is heavily dependent on these experiences exhibit worse relationship outcomes than do intimates whose satisfaction is less sensitive to fluctuating daily experiences. The current studies examined how intimates' reactivity to daily experiences within the relationship is affected by their experiences of stress outside the relationship. Using diary data, Study 1 examined the covariance between spouses' daily global and specific relationship evaluations in 146 newlywed couples. Between-subjects analyses revealed that daily global satisfaction covaried with perceptions of specific relationship experiences more strongly in spouses experiencing more stress. Study 2 examined the within-person association between reactivity and stress using 7-day diaries collected at 3 time points over 4 years in a sample of 82 couples. Intimates' reactivity to daily relationship experiences was stronger when they were experiencing greater than normal stress. All findings held when controlling for the influence of various individual difference factors on reactivity. These findings highlight ways that adaptive relationship functioning may be constrained by external stress.


Secret Romantic Relationships: Consequences for Personal and Relational Well-Being

Justin Lehmiller
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Previous research on romantic secrecy found that hiding one's relationship from others predicted lower levels of relationship quality. The present research built on this work by exploring the potential consequences of relationship concealment on partners' commitment level and personal health. Study 1 found that greater secrecy was associated with reduced commitment to one's relationship, lower self-esteem, and more reported health symptoms. Study 2 tested a theoretical model of the effects of secrecy using structural equation modeling. This model was well supported and suggests that romantic secrecy (a) undermines relational commitment by means of constraining cognitive interdependence (i.e., by limiting psychological closeness to one's partner) and (b) poses a threat to partners' personal health as a result of generating negative affect (e.g., nervousness and fear). These findings indicate that romantic secrecy may have harmful consequences for both the relationship itself and the health of the partners involved.


Consanguinity in Lebanon: Prevalence, Distribution and Determinants

Bernadette Barbour & Pascale Salameh
Journal of Biosocial Science, July 2009, Pages 505-517

The union of individuals with a common ancestor may lead to serious health consequences in their offspring. Consanguinity is high in Middle Eastern communities; it was around 26% in 1988. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of consanguinity in Beirut and other Lebanese regions, and its associated factors in different subgroups. The cross-sectional study was performed on a convenience sample of married women in Lebanon. The women were administered a standardized questionnaire in a face-to-face interview by independent enquirers. Among 1556 women, the overall prevalence of consanguineous marriages was 35·5%, and the consanguinity coefficient was 0·020; 968 marriages (62·2%) were not consanguineous, 492 (31·6%) were first cousin, 61 (3·9%) were second cousin and 36 (2·3%) had lower degrees of consanguinity. Beirut suburb dwelling, low education subgroups, women working in the home and non-Christian religion presented the highest rates of consanguinity (p<0·05). Consanguinity is associated with couples' nulliparity and child chronic morbidity. Factors that could affect consanguinity are having consanguineous parents, having a favourable opinion towards consanguinity, choosing a spouse for religious reasons, particularly in Islam, woman having a low education, woman working in the home and women thinking that consanguinity would not lead to serious diseases. Consanguinity is therefore still a prevailing problem in Lebanon. Specific health education, and genetic counselling in particular, are suggested to explain the consequences of consanguinity to the general population and to help couples make informed choices.


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