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Why people stay single: An evolutionary perspective

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Abstract

People do not always look for mates, and frequently choose to stay single, at least for some time. This study puts forward an evolutionary framework in which people prefer to stay single because doing so either increases their future mating success or because they have traits which prevent them from being able to attract a mate. The study aims further to identify the specific reasons that drive people to stay single, to classify them in broader reason categories and to investigate their contingencies. Accordingly, by using a combination of qualitative research methods, Study 1 finds 76 different reasons. By using a sample of 1096 participants, Study 2 applied first order principal components analysis and classified these reasons to 16 reason factors. By using second order principal components analysis, it classified these 16 reason factors to three reason domains. Finally, it was found that sex, age and personality significantly predict the reasons that drive individuals to stay single.

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... Recent theoretical and empirical work has attempted to identify the reasons that have led people to be single (Apostolou, 2015(Apostolou, , 2017(Apostolou, , 2019Pepping and MacDonald, 2018), with one study in particular (Apostolou, 2017) offering a list comprising of 76 such reasons. However, none of the subsequent research following that work has investigated the validity of these reasons by focusing exclusively on those who are actually single -which would conceivably provide some much-needed findings straight from the horses' mouths. ...
... Recent theoretical and empirical work has attempted to identify the reasons that have led people to be single (Apostolou, 2015(Apostolou, , 2017(Apostolou, , 2019Pepping and MacDonald, 2018), with one study in particular (Apostolou, 2017) offering a list comprising of 76 such reasons. However, none of the subsequent research following that work has investigated the validity of these reasons by focusing exclusively on those who are actually single -which would conceivably provide some much-needed findings straight from the horses' mouths. ...
... Nonetheless, this argument does not explain why so many people remain single for prolonged periods of their lives in the present day. Three main factors have been proposed to account for this phenomenon (Apostolou, 2015(Apostolou, , 2017, and will be examined next. ...
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A relatively large number of people in Western societies are single; that is, they are not involved in any romantic relationship. In this study, we have attempted to investigate the reasons for singlehood by asking singles themselves. A final sample of 648 American singles (307 of them women) rated 92 possible reasons for singlehood. These reasons were classified into 18 broad factors and four general domains. Among the most important reasons were poor flirting skills, freedom, fear of getting hurt, having different priorities, and being too picky. Significant sex and age effects were found across different factors and domains. More specifically, men were more likely than women to indicate that they were single in order to be free to flirt around, and because they were not into family making; while women were more likely to indicate that they were single in order to avoid getting hurt, and because they have considered themselves not to be desirable as mates. Younger people were more likely to indicate that they were single because they had poor flirting skills, because they did not see themselves as desirable mates, and because they did not like commitment; whereas older people were more likely to indicate that they were single in order to be free to do what they have wanted. Findings were examined and discussed using evolutionary theories relating to mate selection and evolutionary mismatch.
... It could be, for instance, by choice or because they face difficulties in attracting a partner. A recent study found that both factors are at play (Apostolou 2017). The present study aims to extend this work by examining the reasons for staying single indicated by men in a recent Reddit thread. ...
... The latter can provide us with several reasons that drive people to stay single, but the former is necessary for enabling us to figure out why these reasons appear in the first place. To use one example, one reason mentioned is poor flirting skills (Apostolou 2017). Thus, empirical studies tell us that poor flirting skills prevent people to attract partners, and as a consequence, they stay single. ...
... Apparently, this is not the case, and a theoretical framework is necessary which could explain why. Such a framework has been recently proposed (Apostolou 2015a(Apostolou , 2017, and it will be discussed next. ...
Article
Full-text available
In Western societies, a substantial proportion of the adult population does not have an intimate partner. The current paper puts forward an evolutionary theoretical framework, where people stay single for three main reasons, namely the mismatch between ancestral and modern conditions has resulted in several individuals lacking the adaptations necessary for attracting and retaining mates, individuals can increase their fitness by opting out of relationships, and individuals have constraints that prevent them from attracting a mate. The paper attempted to identify the reasons that drive men to be single and to investigate whether they were consistent with the proposed theoretical framework. More specifically, 13,429 responses from a recent Reddit thread were analyzed, and 6794 responses were coded and classified in 43 categories. Among the most frequent reasons that men indicated for being single included poor flirting skills, low self-confidence, poor looks, shyness, low effort, and bad experience from previous relationships.
... Avoidance of repetition of mistakes was cited as one of the reasons why they were not interested in marriage (Chizomam & Isiugo-Abanihe, 2014). Moreover, observing incompatibilities between marriage and career, not finding the right man, commitment issues, and deprivation of freedom from other relationships further fueled this disinterest (Apostolou, 2017). ...
... This coincides with Nanik et al. (2018) who found women have different priorities at different points in their lives, exhibiting how singlehood and marriage are very dynamic concepts dependent on the woman's experiences and expectations for herself. In fact, as women accumulated more experiences, they found more factors that convinced themselves to stay single (Apostolou, 2017). ...
... To cope with this, many of the women we interviewed focused more on their careers and sources of livelihood to support themselves and their families. This resulted in these career-oriented women remaining single (Ali & Shoukry, 2017;Apostolou, 2017). Prior literature pointed out that highly educated women felt their successful careers would hinder their probability of finding a partner due to the lack of time as a result of focusing on work. ...
Article
As one of the strongly devout Catholic countries in Southeast Asia, the Philippines recognizes marriage as a paramount social institution, where unmarried women face negative perceptions and social consequences. With the increasing populace of elderly people in the country, this study focused on the conditions of middle-aged (ages 45 to 65) never-married women and how the family-oriented society construes their self-perceptions. By interviewing 24 older never-married women over the age of 45, four key aspects were identified behind their lived experiences: interest in marriage, engagement in relationships, societal change, and ending in acceptance. Results open the discussion for social and individual implications.
... Finally, personal constraints, such as poor physical health, can also prevent people from attracting mates. Recent empirical work has found that reasons for being single classify to broader domains which are consistent with this theorization (Apostolou, 2017;Apostolou et al., 2020). ...
... Qualitative research employing interviews, open-ended questionnaires and unobtrusive data, has found that several people indicated that they were single because of their sexual orientation. When items on sexual orientation were used in quantitative studies, they loaded to the constraints factor (Apostolou, 2017;Apostolou et al., 2020). In turn, this finding suggests that, for several people, their homosexual orientation prevents them from forming an intimate relationship. ...
... With respect to being in a relationship, our hypothesis was not confirmed, as homosexual people were not less likely than people of other sexual orientations to fall in this category. This finding contradicts previous findings that homosexual orientation was one reason for being single (Apostolou, 2017;Apostolou et al., 2020). One possible explanation is that sexual orientation is constraining in forming an intimate relationship only for a small proportion of homosexual people. ...
Article
The social stigma attached to same-sex attraction, along with the limited availability of same-sex outlets, are likely to cause difficulties to homosexual people in attracting intimate partners. Based on this reasoning, the current study aimed to test the hypothesis that homosexual people would be more likely to be involuntarily single, and would experience longer spells of singlehood than people of other sexual orientations. Evidence from a sample of 10,939 Greek-speaking participants, indicated that homosexual people were not less likely than people of other sexual orientations to be in a relationship than involuntarily single. However, homosexual people were considerably less likely to be married than people of other sexual orientations, with the effect being more pronounce for men than for women. In addition, male homosexuals experienced longer spells of singlehood than men of other sexual orientations, but no such effect was found for women.
... Similar to study 1, participants were asked why they were single. Given the plethora of reasons for being single ( Apostolou 2017Apostolou , 2018, the three main categories employed in study 1 may have been constraining; thus, in the present study, we have also added the option Bother reason.^ Participants' sex, age, and marital status were also recorded. ...
... A word of caution is necessary here, as our findings should not be interpreted to mean that for some people being single is always a desirable state while for others it is not. The theoretical framework adopted here (see also Apostolou 2017Apostolou , 2018 indicates that singlehood could be a desirable state for most people only for specific periods or stages in their lives. However, a prolonged period of singlehood could compro- mise fitness, as individual are likely to suffer reproductive (i.e., forgone the opportunity to have children) and survival losses (e.g., lack the support of a partner). ...
... Previous research has identified a plethora of reasons that can potentially drive people to be single in general and invol- untary single in particular ( Apostolou 2017Apostolou , 2018). In the current research, we have examined only the effects of few variables including sex, age, and mating performance, with the pseudo R-squared indicating that these factors explain only a small proportion of variation in singlehood. ...
... Previous studies have proposed four main reasons why people are single: (1) fitness advantages (i.e., singlehood could potentially increase one's reproductive success); (2) the result of evolutionary mismatch; (3) issues due to one's own constraints; (4) and because one is currently in between relationships (Apostolou, 2015(Apostolou, , 2017. In more detail, where one's fitness is concerned, it was theorized that it could potentially be beneficial for young people to divert their limited resources in acquiring a good education and a good job than in attracting and keeping a mate (Apostolou et al., 2020). ...
... As a consequence, several of these adaptations fail to produce fitness-enhancing outcomes. This mismatch problem (Crawford, 1998;Li et al., 2017) has been proposed to be one of the main reasons for singlehood (Apostolou, 2015(Apostolou, , 2017; see also Goetz et al., 2019). ...
... The first comprehensive study on this topic with Greek-speaking participants (Apostolou, 2017) identified 76 reasons for being single and, classified them into 16 broad factors, including "difficulties with relationship initiation," "preference for the freedom to flirt around," and "mistrust of other individuals." Subsequently, these factors were classified into three broader domains namely, "Difficulties with relationships," "Freedom of choice," and "Constraints." ...
Article
Full-text available
The current research aimed to examine the reasons people are single, that is, not in an intimate relationship, across eight different countries-Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, India, Japan, and the UK. We asked a large cross-cultural sample of single participants (N = 6,822) to rate 92 different possible reasons for being single. These reasons were classified into 12 factors, including one's perceived inability to find the right partner, the perception that one is not good at flirting, and the desire to focus on one's career. Significant sex and age effects were found for most factors. The extracted factors were further classified into three separate domains: Perceived poor capacity to attract mates, desiring the freedom of choice, and currently being in between relationships. The domain structure, the relative importance of each factor and domain, as well as sex and age effects were relatively consistent across countries. There were also important differences however, including the differing effect sizes of sex and age effects between countries.
... To begin with, a recent study employed a sample of 1894 Greek-speaking participants, and found that about one in two faced considerable difficulties in starting and/or keeping an intimate relationship . Another study employed qualitative and quantitative research methods in order to examine the reasons that drive people to stay single (Apostolou 2017). Seventy six different reasons were identified, which classified in 16 broader categories and three domains. ...
... Similar to study 1, participants were asked why they were single. Given the plethora of reasons for being single (Apostolou 2017(Apostolou , 2018, the three main categories employed in study 1 may have been constraining; thus, in the present study, we have also added the option Bother reason.P articipants' sex, age, and marital status were also recorded. In order to measure mating performance-how well people do in intimate relationships-we have used a five-item instrument developed by Apostolou et al. (2018). ...
... In the same vein, people may prefer to be single and flirt with different casual mates in order to refine their mating skills, as doing so could enable them to make better choices and attract more desirable partners at a future time. Last but not least, people may face difficulties such as health problems, which prevent them from participating effectively in the mating market, and as a consequence, they may prefer to be outside it until these are resolved (Apostolou 2017). Such reasons can potentially explain why a significant proportion of participants indicated that they preferred to be single. ...
Article
Full-text available
A substantial proportion of people living in Western societies do not have an intimate partner. The current research attempts to estimate the occurrence of people who are involuntary single—they want to be in an intimate relationship but they find it difficult to do so—in the Greek cultural context. Evidence from two independent studies (N = 1682) indicated that about half of the participants who were single, they were involuntary so. It was also found that, mating performance—how well people do in starting and keeping an intimate relationship—was a significant predictor of involuntary singlehood, with low scorers facing a higher probability to be involuntary single than high scorers.
... For most individuals, the tactics mentioned above are successful in attracting mates. However, some people are without a mate (Apostolou, 2017). Apostolou (2015) argues that there are at least five principal general motives why many individuals face difficulties in finding a mate: ...
... Understanding why people choose to stay single should broaden the understanding of human mating and sexual strategies. Recently, researchers addressed the reasons why people opt to stay single and showed that there are evolutionary explanations for why some people behave this way (Apostolou, 2017). There are two main reasons why some people decide to stay single: (1) staying single may boost the future chances to mate and to obtain a better mate, which may be a fitness increasing strategy, and (2) some individuals do not possess the characteristics required for mate attraction and retention (Apostolou, 2017). ...
... Recently, researchers addressed the reasons why people opt to stay single and showed that there are evolutionary explanations for why some people behave this way (Apostolou, 2017). There are two main reasons why some people decide to stay single: (1) staying single may boost the future chances to mate and to obtain a better mate, which may be a fitness increasing strategy, and (2) some individuals do not possess the characteristics required for mate attraction and retention (Apostolou, 2017). ...
Article
Even if the majority of humans desire to mate, some people decide to stay single. In this paper, we investigated (N = 270) the link between the Dark Triad traits and the reasons to remain single by choice, testing the moderating effect of sociosexuality. We showed that individuals high on Machiavellianism and psychopathy scored high on two dimensions of reasons to stay single by choice: freedom of choice and difficulties with relationships. Narcissism was not related to any dimension of reasons to stay single. Individuals high on Machi-avellianism or psychopathy that were also high on sociosexuality reported lower scores on the reasons to stay single by choice, compared to individuals high on Machiavellianism or psychopathy low on sociosexuality.
... Much of the debate in this area has focused on issues of mate preferences, potential sex differences, and the origin/nature of those preferences, with some researchers treating mate preferences as a function of sociological or structural forces (Eagly, 1987;Eagly & Wood, 1999;Zentner & Eagly, 2015), with others contending mate preferences are vestiges of ancient selection pressures (Howard, Blumstein, & Schwartz, 1987;Li & Meltzer, 2015). Whatever the origin of mate preferences, countless people are unable to maximize their mating ideals despite the apparent supply of attractive and available partners (Apostolou, 2017(Apostolou, , 2019, suggesting people's mating psychologies are sensitive to contextual threats (Reeve, Kelly, & Welling, 2016). Indeed, the whole online dating industry is built on people's desire and struggle to find mates. ...
... We consider three potential solutions to mating shortages: lowering standards (Regan, 1998), abstention (Apostolou, 2017(Apostolou, , 2019, and searching farther (Jonason, Nolland, & Tyler, 2017). Each of these comes with different costs and benefits that may appeal to men and women for reasons consistent with evolutionary reasoning. ...
... We also examined the option of abstaining (Apostolou, 2017) whereby individuals may temporarily refrain from dating presumably in hopes of finding a better partner later. On its surface, this tactic seems like a bad choice because it could mean reproductive oblivion. ...
Article
Full-text available
Although much work on mating psychology has focused on mate preferences and responses to desirable sexual and romantic offers, less is known about what happens when individuals face a lack of mating options. We present 2 studies on (hypothetical) compensatory mating tactics. In Study 1 (N = 299), participants were asked to imagine they were struggling to find long-term and short-term mates and we revealed sex differences and context-specific effects consistent with parental investment theory. In Study 2 (N = 282), participants were asked to imagine they had been incapable of finding a short-term and long-term mate for 6 months despite actively trying to find one and then report the likelihood of abstaining, lowering their standards, and traveling farther to find a satisfactory partner; results largely (and conceptually) replicated those from Study 1 but document the role of attachment and (self-reported) mate value in accounting for individual differences in adopting the 3 mating tactics. We frame our results in terms of how people might solve mate shortages.
... Nevertheless, studies on singlehood did not distinguish between those who are voluntarily single and those who preferred to be single or were between relationships. One reasons for being single, is difficulties in attracting and retaining mates (Apostolou, 2017). Another reason is that people choose not to be in an intimate relationship (DePaulo & Morris, 2005). ...
... However, casual mating is also beneficial. More specifically, by engaging in casual relationships, individuals can obtain material (e.g., gifts) and non-material (e.g., favors) benefits from multiple mates (Buss & Schmitt, 1993;Greiling & Buss, 2000), gain relationship experience that would enable them to attract and retain long-term mates at a future time (Apostolou, 2017), and men to increase their reproductive success by having children with different women (Buss, 2000). Such benefits have favored the evolution of a short-term mating strategy, where individuals engage in casual relationships, without an interest in committing or investing in children that may come out of them (Buss, 2000;Buss & Schmitt, 1993). ...
... It has been argued that people are likely to opt out from the mating market in order to work on their strengths and advance their studies and careers (Apostolou, 2017). More specifically, the capacity to provide resources, is a trait which is highly valued in a prospective mate (Buss, 2016). ...
Article
Although most people look for and eventually find long-term mates, many opt out from the mating market, preferring to be single instead. The current research aimed to identify some of the factors which are likely to be associated with increased likelihood to be voluntarily single. More specifically, we examined the effects of sociosexuality, Dark Triad, and career focus on relationships status. Our results indicated that men and women who tended toward unrestricted sociosexuality and who scored higher in the Dark Triad, were more likely to prefer to be single than in an intimate relationship. We also found a three-way interaction between career focus, sex and age. In particular, higher career focus was associated with higher probability to be voluntarily single than in an intimate relationship, among younger than older women. The implications of these findings for understanding singlehood were further discussed.
... We further expected (Hypothesis 2) that remained-single participants would have the highest ideal partner preferences (as initiallysingle individuals who remained single may have done so because they have overly high ideal partner expectations that are less likely to be met, Apostolou, 2017). In comparison, newly-coupled participants would have lower ideal partner preferences but higher than continually-coupled participants (as they were tested while being single, and we expect them to adjust their ideal preferences after being coupled). ...
... Remainedsingle individuals, however, did not differ significantly from newlycoupled participants in contrast to our predictions (cf. Apostolou, 2017), although, these findings should be interpreted with caution because the sample sizes were relatively limited. ...
Article
It has been suggested that coupled individuals tend to adjust their ideal partner preferences according to their actual partner. In Study 1, we developed a mate preference trait-list and found a four-factor structure (Physical attractiveness, Status/Resources, Vitality, and Warmth/Trustworthiness), which we confirmed in Study 2. In Study 3, we compared ideal and actual partner preferences in continually-coupled and newly-coupled individuals. Ideal partner preferences were recorded in continually-coupled participants while in the relationship and in single participants before they established a relationship. Results showed that discrepancy between ideal and actual partner evaluations was lower in continually-coupled than in newly-coupled individuals when computing Manhattan distance between them. When comparing ideal partner preferences, continually-coupled individuals rated Warmth/Trustworthiness and Vitality lower than newly-coupled individuals. No difference between continually-coupled and newly-coupled individuals was found in their actual partner evaluations. Our results indicate that relationship status significantly affects ideal partner preferences.
... More specifically, one study identified 76 reasons, and classified them in 16 factors and three domains, which could potentially drive people to be single (Apostolou 2017b). The three domains were the "difficulties with relationships" (included reasons such as not being good in flirting), "freedom of choice" (included reasons such as being free to flirt around), and "constraints" (included reasons such as having a serious health problem), with the first factor rated as being the most important one for being single. ...
... People may stay single for some time in order to divert their resources in building qualities, such as education and social status, which are valued in a partner, and once they do so, to enter in the mating market. Or people may stay single in order to be able to flirt around and have casual sex with many different partners (Apostolou 2017b). These scenarios could potentially enable individuals to increase their fitness and are thus, not associated with negative emotions. ...
Article
Full-text available
A considerable proportion of people living in Western societies are single, i.e., they do not have an intimate partner. Recent research has indicated that about half of these instances are involuntary-people want to be in a relationship, but face difficulties in attracting partners. Within the context of an evolutionary theoretical framework, the current study aims to estimate the occurrence of involuntary singlehood in the Greek cultural context and to assess its impact on emotional wellbeing and on life satisfaction. Using an online sample of 735 Greek-speaking participants (431 women and 304 men), it was found that nearly 40% of those who were single were involuntarily so. It was also found that involuntary singles experienced significantly more negative emotions and lower life satisfaction than voluntary singles and people in a relationship.
... There are many reasons why people experience poor performance in the domain of mating, including stochastic ones such as accidents, genetic mutations, and illnesses (Apostolou, 2017b). For instance, individuals may experience a serious accident, which could result in disfigurement that in turn could impair their capacity to attract mates. ...
... For instance, a high level of aggression may have enabled ancestral men to obtain women by fighting other men, but it constitutes an obstacle in keeping a partner for men living in postindustrial societies. Consistent with this argument, one study identified 76 reasons that could lead people to be single, including poor flirting skills and interpersonal difficulties such as shyness and fear of commitment (Apostolou, 2017b). Another study analyzed 13,429 responses from a Reddit thread, asking the question why men were single (Apostolou, 2019). ...
Article
Full-text available
A considerable proportion of people in postindustrial societies experience difficulties in intimate relationships and spend considerable time being single. In the current research, we attempted to examine mating performance, and occurrence and length of singlehood in a Greek ( N = 884) and a Chinese ( N = 2,041) sample. We found that, in both samples, about half of the participants experienced difficulties in intimate relationships. In addition, more than half of the participants were single, and nearly one in four participants indicated that they were single because they faced difficulties attracting a partner. Moreover, more than one in five singles in the Greek sample were without a partner for more than 3 years, and almost half of the singles in the Chinese sample had never been in a relationship. Mating performance predicted marital status, with low scorers being more likely to be single because they faced difficulties in attracting a partner than high scorers. Mating performance predicted also the length of singlehood, with low scorers spending more time being single than high scorers. In addition, singles who faced difficulties in attracting partners experienced lengthier spells of singlehood than other categories of singles. Furthermore, there were significantly more participants who preferred to be single and who never had a relationship in the Chinese than in the Greek sample. Overall, in both samples, a considerable proportion of participants experienced low mating performance, which was associated with increased incidence of prolonged spells of singlehood.
... In order to analyze the data from the open-ended questionnaires, we employed methods developed in prior research (Apostolou, 2017;Apostolou & Panayiotou, 2019). More specifically, two independent graduate students were employed, a man and a woman, who coded and categorized responses to supraordinate categories. ...
... Similarly, interventions could enable people to maintain good eye contact and improve their looks by dressing, for instance, better. Such interventions are important, because a considerable number of adult individuals face difficulties in attracting partners (Apostolou & Wang, 2019), with one of the main reasons being poor performance in flirting (Apostolou, 2017). Thus, they could be used by professional, such as counseling psychologists and flirt coaches, to enable their clients to improve their performance in the domain of mating. ...
Article
Flirting is an essential aspect of human interaction and key for the formation of intimate relationships. In the current research, we aimed to identify the traits that turn it more effective. In particular, in Study 1 we used open-ended questionnaires in a sample of 487 Greek-speaking participants, and identified 47 traits that make flirting effective. In Study 2, we asked 808 Greek-speaking participants to rate how effective each trait would be on them. Using principal components analysis, we classified these traits into nine broader factors. Having a good non-verbal behavior, being intelligent and having a gentle approach, were rated as the most important factors. Sex difference were found for most of the factors. For example, women rated gentle approach as more effective on them, while men rated good looks as more effective. Last but not least, older participants rated factors, such as the "Gentle approach," to be more effective on them.
... This recurrent problem may have led people to develop strategies to solve mate shortages. Three such strategies may be abstaining, searching farther, and lowering their standards (Apostolou, 2017;Jonason et al., 2020;Regan, 1998). Resorting to these strategies as compensatory mating tactics may expose people to risks (1) like sexually transmitted infections when lowering one's standards for shortterm mates, (2) reproductive oblivion if abstention is employed incorrectly, and (3) exposure to mate defection, travel costs, and the stresses of engaging in a long-distance relationship when opting to travel farther. ...
Article
When people cannot find desirable mating prospects, they may abstain, lower their standards, or travel farther to solve this mate shortage. We examined people's (N = 306) willingness to adopt these three solutions to mating shortages in relation to individual differences in disgust in men and women and for long-term and short-term partners. Those with more sexual disgust were more willing to abstain during a shortage of short-term mates and were less willing to lower their standards and to travel farther for short-term partners. Pathogen and moral disgust were associated with choosing to travel farther in the long-term contexts for men only. Our findings support the idea that how people evaluate costs and benefits in mating is expressed in their personality.
... After all, survival alone does not ensure that genetic material will be passed on; only mating provides that guarantee. Nonetheless, many people remain single, and a significant proportion of people report having difficulty in starting relationships (Apostolou, 2017;Apostolou, Shialos, Kyrou, Demetriou, & Papamichael, 2018). One significant constraint on relationships is mental health. ...
Article
Research suggests that stigma toward mental illness extends to evaluations of people with mental disorders as potential romantic partners. However, it is not clear if mental illness functions as a relationship dealbreaker that leads to the rejection of potential mates. The current research consisted of 3 studies that examined mental illness as a relationship dealbreaker and compared its effects to previously established dealbreakers. Study 1 (N = 113) showed that people list an average of 5 mental disorders when asked to report the mental health problems that would lead them to reject a mate. Participants in Study 2 (N = 111) rated specific mental disorders as somewhat or strongly likely to lead them to reject a potential partner. Study 3 (N = 163) showed that people’s willingness to engage in sexual or romantic relationships with an otherwise attractive partner significantly decreased after finding out that the person had a mental disorder. Across the studies, women tended to be more sensitive to dealbreakers than men, especially for short term/sexual relationships, and the pattern of results for mental illness was similar to previously established general dealbreakers. The results of the studies indicate that mental illness does function as a relationship dealbreaker and the conceptualization of social distance toward mental illness should be expanded to include romantic relationships.
... People's mating motives do not simply evaporate when they cannot satisfy their romantic and sexual ideals. When people fail to find the love and sex they want, they may develop and use compensatory mating tactics like abstaining, searching further, or lowering their standards (Apostolou 2017;Jonason et al. 2020a;Regan 1998a, b). In this study, we attempt to further understand how people make mating decisions when failing to find what they want in terms of physical attractiveness. ...
Article
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Objective Mates high in physical attractiveness are in short supply, which means that not all people are able to find mates who are sufficiently attractive. Threshold models of mate preferences suggest that when physical attractiveness minimums are not reached, other traits possessed by a potential partner may play a lesser role in mate choice. However, few studies have sought to understand mating decisions when those minimums are not met. Methods In this experiment ( N = 186), participants rated images of (pre-rated) unattractive opposite-sex others for long-term and short-term relationships after learning dealbreaker or dealmaker information. Results While participants did not find targets highly desirable or physically attractive (as a stimulus check), men were more willing than women to have casual sex, and that men and women reported similar desirability ratings towards long-term partners. Learning dealbreakers was associated with less desire for the targets than dealmakers, but women’s lack of interest was insensitive to mating context, whereas men found the target especially undesirable in the long-term context. Additionally, men were willing to consider a long-term relationship with a physically unattractive partner who possessed dealmakers, but not one who possessed dealbreakers. Conclusions Our discussion focuses on men and women’s mating decisions when potential partners fail to meet minimum thresholds for physical attractiveness. Future research is needed to explore the magnitude of the effect of meeting or failing to meet one’s minimum thresholds for physical attractiveness.
... They may also prolong the spells of singlehood, because people who face such difficulties may had bad experiences from being in a relationship, which could demotivate them from looking to establish new ones. Actually, one study asked participants to indicate the reasons why they were single, and found that bad experiences from previous relationships was a common reason (Apostolou, 2017b). Accordingly, studying the difficulties in keeping intimate relationships is necessary for developing interventions that could enable people to maintain an intimate relationship. ...
Article
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Keeping an intimate relationship is challenging, and many people face difficulties in doing so. In the current research, we have attempted to identify these difficulties, within the context of an evolutionary theoretical framework. More specifically, by using a combination of qualitative research methods in a sample of 163 Greek-speaking participants, we identified 78 such difficulties. By employing maximum likelihood analysis on the scores of 1,099 Greek-speaking participants, we classified these difficulties in 12 broader factors. The most important factor was "Fading away enthusiasm," followed by "Long work hours" and "Lack of personal time and space." Almost 70% of the participants indicated that at least one factor, and 41% indicated that three or more factors caused them difficulties. Significant sex effects were found for most factors, indicating that men and women differed in the importance they ascribed to these difficulties. Moreover, significant age, marital status and number of children effects were found for several factors.
... Second, singles who choose mobile dating may have particular psychological features that affect the way they form and construct relationships. Certain personality dimensions, such as extraversion or internal locus of control (i.e., the belief that one is in charge of life events and outcomes, as opposed to outside forces), are known to impact mate selection, short-term mating, and marital quality [48][49][50][51][52][53][54]. Individuals that resort to a more agentic way of selecting partners, one that also involves constant interactions with others, may be particularly open, extroverted, and may have a high internal locus of control. ...
Article
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Within the span of almost ten years, phone dating apps have transformed the dating scene by normalizing and, according to some voices, gamifying the digital quest for a partner. Despite amplified discussion on how swipe-based apps damage the fabric of intimate ties, scientific accounts on whether they have led to different relationship patterns are missing. Using 2018 survey data from Switzerland, this study provides a rich overview of couples who met through dating apps by addressing three main themes: 1) family formation intentions, 2) relationship satisfaction and individual well-being, and 3) assortative mating. The data indicate that in Switzerland, dating apps have recently taken over as main online dating context. Results further show that couples formed through mobile dating have stronger cohabiting intentions than those formed in non-digital settings. Women who found their partner through a dating app also have stronger fertility desires and intentions than those who found their partner offline. Generally, there are no differences between couples initiated through dating apps and those initiated elsewhere regarding relationship and life satisfaction. Though more data are needed to capture the full range of users’ romantic and sexual experiences, current results mitigate some of the concerns regarding the short-term orientation or the poor quality of relationships formed through mobile dating. Findings finally suggest that dating apps play an important role in altering couple composition by allowing for more educationally diverse and geographically distant couples.
... Mating success is an important issue in modern societies, as one in two adults report poor mating performance (Apostolou et al., 2018). A possible cause may be that in pre-industrial society, the parents chose the romantic parents for their children, not the children themselves (Apostolou, 2017), mostly for economic reasons (Apostolou, 2007). In modern and nowadays societies, individuals choose mates on their own, but they may not have the experience to make good choices, nor others, like their parents offered them good advice. ...
Article
Mating success is an important issue in modern societies. One in two adults reports poor mating performance. One solution to this problem is to know as much as possible about human mating preferences. In this research, we investigated if women (N = 223) high on the Dark Triad Traits are attracted to males with high levels of narcissism and tested the moderation effect of women's mating orientation and experience with unfaithful men. We showed that women high on all the Dark Triad traits were attracted to males with high narcissism levels. Women with high levels of Machiavellianism, narcissism, or psychopathy that were oriented to long term mating were more attracted to males high on narcissism. Women high on psychopathy who had many experiences with unfaithful men are less attracted by males with high narcissism levels. Experiences with infidelity did not affect the relationships between women's Machiavellianism and narcissism on the one hand and attraction to males high on narcissism, on the other hand. Our research supports the idea of positive assortative mating of women high on the Dark Triad traits, which is conditional on mating orientation and experience with infidelity.
... One in two adults face difficulties in mating and report poor mating performance (Apostolou et al., 2018). This may be because there are important evolutionary mismatches that affect mating performance (e. g., in a free mating context, as the one of nowadays, individuals may not have evolved mechanisms for mate attraction, as mating was to a great extent planned and controlled in the family; Apostolou, 2017). In the last thirty years, mating preferences were among the most studied human mating features, as they are the glue that helps form a romantic relationship (Buss, 2008). ...
Article
Mating preferences were among the most studied human mating features, as they are the glue that helps form a romantic relationship. We investigated the influence of a broad series of environmental characteristics (e.g., resource scarcity, corruption, physical safety and integrity, insufficient jobs, inadequate medical and educational infrastructure) on women's mate preferences (Study 1, N = 211) and attraction to male narcissists (Study 2, N = 223). We also investigated the link between women's Dark Triad traits and perceived mate value on women's mate preferences in conditions of harsh vs. stable environments (Study 1). In stable environments, we found that women would prefer men interested in long-term relationships, with a pleasant personality and parenting skills (e.g., kind and cooperative). In contrast, in harsh environments, women would prefer men high on resources gathering characteristics (e.g., good cook-housekeepers, with well-off family backgrounds, good economic prospects). In Study 2, we found that women would be more attracted by males high on narcissism in the condition of harsh environments. Finally, we showed that women's Dark Triad traits and perceived mate value were associated with variations in women mate preferences in both conditions.
... Consistent with this hypothesis, one study employed open-ended questionnaires and interviews, and found that participants commonly reported having poor flirting skills, high choosiness and low mating effort as reasons for being single (Apostolou, 2017, see also Apostolou, O, & Esposito, 2020). Another study, which analyzed responses on a Reddit thread asking men why they were single, produced similar results (Apostolou, 2019). ...
Article
A considerable proportion of the population is involuntarily single; that is, they want to be in an intimate relationship but they face difficulties in doing so. The current paper attempted to assess some possible predictors of this phenomenon. More specifically, in a sample of 1228 Greek-speaking women and men, we found that participants who scored low in flirting capacity, capacity to perceive signals of interest and mating effort, were more likely to be involuntarily single than in an intimate relationship, and experienced longer spells of single-hood. Mating effort had also a significant effect on voluntary singlehood, with low scorers being more likely to be in this category than high scorers. Choosiness had also a significant effect, but only on voluntary singlehood, with high scorers being more likely to prefer to be single than low scorers.
... Such findings can shed light on several phenomena which might not be otherwise understood. For instance, despite mating being of great importance, it appears that a considerable proportion of people today face difficulties in attracting a partner, with the most commonly reported difficulty being poor flirting capacity (Apostolou, 2017b(Apostolou, , 2019. If one assumes that in ancestral human societies mate choice was freely exercised, we would expect that selection forces would have selected against poor capacity for flirting, so poor flirting capacity would not be a common problem today. ...
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The current chapter aims to assess the importance of cross-cultural research for the field of evolutionary psychology. The disciple of evolutionary psychology is based on the premise that human behavior is generated by a collection of brain modules or adaptations that have evolved to produce fitness-increasing outcomes in the ancestral environment. Thus, understanding human behavior requires understanding the nature and function of these adaptations, which in turn, requires reconstructing the ancestral human condition. By identifying the typical patterns of life in contemporary pre-industrial societies, cross-cultural anthropological research constitutes a valid way to reconstruct the way of life of ancestral pre-industrial societies. Moreover, cross-cultural historical research could be used to reconstruct the way of life in the later period of human evolution. Furthermore, evolutionary psychology is based on the premise that adaptations are universal: Behavior arises from evolved mechanisms that most humans share. Thus, many evolutionary hypotheses require cross-cultural research in order to be tested. Finally, in the evolutionary psychological perspective, behavioral adaptations are not rigid mechanisms, but are responsive to environmental conditions. Accordingly, cross-cultural research is necessary for understanding the range of behaviors that these mechanisms can produce in different settings.
... However, the predictors of mating performance were chosen on theoretical grounds, rather than on what people have indicated to prevent them from doing well in mating. A different study employed qualitative research methods in order to identify the reasons that drive individuals to be single, and subsequently, it employed quantitative research methods in order to classify these reasons to broader categories (Apostolou, 2017b). Nevertheless, this research focused on singlehood in general rather than on the reasons that make it difficult for an individual to start a relationship. ...
Article
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Within the context of an evolutionary theoretical framework, the current research attempted to study the reasons that cause difficulties in starting an intimate relationship in the Greek cultural context. In particular, using qualitative research methods (interviews and open-ended questionnaires), Study 1 (N = 205) identified 58 reasons that make it difficult for people to start an intimate relationship. Using an online sample of 1,095 Greek-speaking participants (N = 1,095), Study 2 classified these reasons in 12 factors. More than 80% of the participants indicated that they faced above moderate or severe difficulties in at least one factor, while about 40% faced difficulties in three or more factors. Significant gender and age effects were found across the different factors. Using second order principal components analysis, the 12 factors were classified in three broader domains of difficulties in starting a relationship.
... Nevertheless, the observed rising amount of singlehood with the mixed findings (e.g., Lehmann et al., 2015) and most notably, the lack of suitable measurements (Lehmann et al., 2015) warrant the present study to develop a quantitative measure to understand the people's attitudes toward singlehood. Moreover, the shortcomings of previous incomprehensive qualitative investigations (Apostolou, 2019) and examination in solely the Greek cultural context other than different cultural contexts (Apostolou, 2017) could be overcome in the present study. As such, attitudes among individuals remaining single could be uncovered in the present study. ...
Article
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Although romantic relationships have been found to boost well-being, some studies demonstrated that staying single has similar beneficial effects. One cause of such contradiction is probably due to the lack of a quantitative measurement of attitudes toward singlehood. To address this methodological gap, four studies involving 1,276 undergraduate students in Malaysia and India were conducted to develop and examine the psychometric qualities of the Attitudes toward Singlehood Scale (AtSS). Study 1 selected 15 items from the pool and identified a 3-factor solution using exploratory factor analysis. However, a 9-item second-order factor model was found superior in Study 2 using confirmatory factor analysis. The 9-item AtSS demonstrated good internal consistency and test-retest reliability measured two weeks apart as well as construct and criterion validity. Study 3 further supported the superiority of the 9-item second-order factor model with replicated results of Study 2 on a new sample. Measurement invariance test supported scalar invariance across gender while ANCOVA showed female participants displaying higher scores than male counterparts. Study 4 then examined the properties of the 9-item AtSS on a sample of young adults in India. The results are consistent with Study 2 and 3, lending further support to the usability of the AtSS in different cultural contexts. Overall, the consistent findings promote the AtSS as a promising tool for assessing young adults’ attitudes toward singlehood. Implication and suggestions for future studies are also discussed.
... In consequence, many people today may lack good flirting skills, which are important in contemporary postindustrial societies in which people have to find mates on their own. Recent studies have found that poor flirting skills are one of the most frequently reported reasons for being single (Apostolou, 2017b(Apostolou, , 2019. Accordingly, due to mismatch between ancestral conditions, where parents dominated mate choice, and modern ones, where they do not, it could be predicted that a considerable proportion of people living in postindustrial societies would experience difficulties in attracting mates. ...
Chapter
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This chapter addresses how the genetic relatedness between parents and their children results in the two parties having converging as well as diverging interests. In the domain of mating, these interests, along with other factors such as the trade-offs inherent in mating, give rise to an opportunity cost of free mate choice: Parents have much to lose if they allow their children to exercise choice freely. This opportunity cost provides a strong incentive to parents to influence their children's mate choices. In preindustrial societies, parents manage to exercise direct control, which is predominantly manifested in the institution of arranged marriage. In postindustrial societies, parents exercise influence indirectly through manipulation. Ultimately, parental influence over mating gives rise to a sexual selection force, namely parental choice, which may be unique to the human species.
... For the purpose of analyzing the data from the open-ended questionnaires and the in-depth interviews, methods employed in prior research were used (Apostolou, 2017;Apostolou & Panayiotou, 2019). Two independent graduate students, a man and a woman, coded and categorized responses to supraordinate categories. ...
Article
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Forming long-term intimate relationships constitutes an important aspect of human nature. Within the context of an evolutionary theoretical framework, the current research has attempted to investigate what motivates people to keep an intimate relationship. Using a combination of qualitative research methods in a sample of 131 Greek-speaking participants, 58 reasons that motivated individuals to keep their intimate relationship were identified. Using quantitative research methods in a sample of 789 Greek-speaking participants who were in an intimate relationship, these reasons were classified in nine broad factors and two broader domains. Having a supporting and compatible partner with whom one shares similar goals, and with whom one has good sex and a strong emotional attachment, were rated among the most important factors motivating participants to keep their relationship. Moreover, as indicated by the domain means, participants were more strongly motivated to keep their intimate relationship if their partners had desirable attributes, such as providing them with support, and less so by their own attributes, such as fear of loneliness. Significant effects of sex, age, marital status, presence of children, and years in a relationship were found for several factors.
... Please note that, we are not suggesting that poor mating performance is the sole reason for being single. People stay single for reasons other than difficulties in attracting and keeping a partner, including focusing on developing their strengths that would enable them to become more effective mate-seekers in the future, or because they do not wish to commit to a relationship as they prefer to engage in different casual relationships (Apostolou, 2017). People may also be single because they are between relationships. ...
Article
There are reasons to believe that the mechanisms involved in mating, evolved in a context where marriages were arranged and male-male competition was strong. Thus, they may not work well in a post-industrial context, where mating is not regulated and where male-male competition is weak. As a consequence of the mismatch between ancestral and modern conditions, several individuals may face difficulties in the domain of mating. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence rates of poor mating performance and to identify some of its predictors. In particular, evidence from 1894 Greek and Greek-Cypriot participants from three independent studies, indicated that about one in five individuals found intimate relationships difficult, about one in two experienced difficulties in either starting or keeping a relationship, and about one in five experienced difficulties in both starting and keeping a relationship. Moreover, it was found that sexual functioning, self-esteem, self-perceived mate value, choosiness, personality, attention to looks, and mating effort were significant predictors of poor mating performance. It was also found that men and women closely overlapped in their mating performance, while age did not predict how well people do in the domain of mating.
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This paper explores the discursive constructions of femininity and masculinity expressed by incels. Situated within a new wave of misogyny, incels blame feminism for disrupting a natural order whereby women and broader societal structures are organised around heterosexual, monogamous couplings. Using femmephobia as a lens, I consider how incels employ heteropatriarchal conceptions of emphasised femininity to both devalue women and describe pervasive social conditions that force them to remain celibate. Femmephobia casts feminine expressions as inherently performative and directed towards a masculine subject. Through an online ethnography of incel-identified subreddits and a deep-reading of Elliot Rodger’s manifesto, this paper situates incel discourse within contemporary work on critical femininity. It finds that incels use gendered actors to illustrate and explain their status as incels. Further, these actors all operate within heteropatriarchal understandings of gender, and operationalise femininity or hegemonic masculinity for social capital. Through the use of these actors, incels demonstrate how they view sexual access and relationships as a unique form of capital that they are denied. Taking gender as its starting point, this paper contributes to the emerging field of critical femininity through an understanding of the misogyny and femmephobia expressed by incels through the use of gendered actors.
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This study examines the effect of relationship desire on singles’ social lives and vice versa. Based on the German-based Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics study, never-married singles and divorced singles were analyzed. Cross-sectional results showed a correlation between the extent to which singles desire relationship and both the relative importance of friendships and overall social satisfaction. Further analysis, using longitudinal methods, showed that the move to a lower degree of relationship desire had a significant effect on the relative importance of friends. Furthermore, both higher levels of the relative importance of friends and social satisfaction are negatively correlated with relationship desire. These results clarify previous studies and point to the fact that singles with low relationship desire are more social and derive greater support from their friends.
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Many researchers believe that the concept of adaptation is useful for understanding the human mind and human behavior.1-7 These researchers agree that adaptations are design features of organisms that evolved because they enhanced fitness in ancestral environments. They see the psychological mechanisms that make up the human mind as evolved adaptations. Further they are convinced that these adaptations are more likely to produce adaptive effects in environments similar to ancestral ones. In other words, the more similar the present environment to the ancestral one, the more likely the adaptation is to confer the reproductive advantage that led to its evolution. On the other hand, adaptations are less likely to confer an adaptive advantage in novel environments. Despite these shared views, the question of exactly how to characterize these expectations has led to a major disagreement among researchers who study human behavior and psychology from an evolutionary perspective. One group, whose members label themselves evolutionary psychologists, has dealt with this problem by elaborating the concept of the environment of evolutionary adaptedness, (EEA).8-9 Other researchers, who are variously labeled behavioral ecologists, evolutionary ecologists, sociobiologists, or human paleontologists, have tended to question the value of this concept.10-14 In this paper, I review and critique the concept of the EEA and the associated evolutionary psychological view that the human mind consists of many specific-purpose decision-making mechanisms rather than just a few general-purpose ones. I then suggest an alternative to the EEA concept that I believe will serve better the purpose of modeling the relationship between adaptations and environments. I see this concept as a more logical complement than the EEA to the view that the human mind consists of many specific mechanisms. I refer to this new concept as the adaptively relevant environment (ARE). The expression "relevant environment" may also serve as a shorter label. The key idea motivating the ARE concept is that an organism consist of a large number of special-purpose adaptations, each interacting with only a part of the organism's environment. Thus, when a particular element of an environment changes, it is likely to affect some adaptations but not others. Logically, this idea is closely related to the idea that evolutionary change is mosaic: In the course of evolutionary change, some aspects of organisms change while others remain the same. In order to understand an adaptation fully at the proximate level, we need to study its design, the structure of its relevant environment, and the interaction of the two. Before proceeding, a word of caution is necessary regarding the label evolutionary psychology. The label has both a broad and a narrow meaning. In its narrow meaning, it refers to the research program of scholars such as Barkow, Cosmides, Symons, and Tooby who rely heavily on the EEA and associated concepts and who insist that others who do not share this emphasis are not strict Darwinians or true adaptationists.2 However, many writers use the terms in a broader sense that includes all recent attempts to study human behavior and psychology in evolutionary terms. Robert Wright's recent book, The Moral Animal,15 uses the word in this broader sense.
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The human penis exhibits considerable variation in size, while a substantial proportion of the adult male population experiences size anxiety. This paper employs an evolutionary framework in order to understand this variation, as well as the concern men exhibit about the adequacy of the size of their penis. It is argued that female choice has been one important sexual selection force, responsible for shaping the size of the penis. However, this force has been relatively weak, because women do not consider the size of their partners’ penis to be the most important determinant of their sexual satisfaction. Also, in ancestral human societies, sexual satisfaction was a secondary concern, while women had limited space to exercise mate choice. The mismatch between ancestral and modern conditions, with female choice being stronger in the present than in the past, causes anxiety in men about their ability to satisfy their partners, which is also manifested in their concerns about size.
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Successful sexual intercourse is a prerequisite for successful reproduction, a fact that translates into strong evolutionary pressures being exercised on mechanisms that regulate sexual functioning to work optimally. In effect, selection forces would remove from the gene pool any alleles that pre-dispose for sexual dysfunctions, limiting their prevalence to very low levels. But this did not happen with epidemiological studies indicating that sexual dysfunctions are common, with approximately one in three men facing such a difficulty. This raises the question why evolutionary forces have allowed such variation in sexual functioning given its importance in reproduction. The present paper attempts to address this question by applying three evolutionary models on anthropological and historical evidence that depicts the ancestral human condition. It is argued that the high prevalence of sexual dysfunctions in men is predominantly explained by the mismatch between ancestral and modern environments, with selection forces not having sufficient time to optimize sexual functioning mechanisms to the demands of modern conditions. The proposed evolutionary framework is employed to derive predictions which are examined against the available evidence on sexual dysfunctions.
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Epidemiological studies indicate that almost one in two women face some kind of sexual dysfunction. Given the importance of sexual functioning for successful reproduction, such a high prevalence is enigmatic. Selection forces should have reduced to a low frequency, or have eliminated completely from the gene pool, any alleles that predispose for sexual dysfunctions. Epidemiological studies indicate that this did not happen, and the present paper attempts to examine the reasons why. Based on anthropological and historical evidence, it is argued that in ancestral societies sexual motivation was a much weaker predictor of successful mating in women, than it is today in post-industrial societies. Accordingly, balancing selection has favored a female type of sexual behavior which is characterized by low sexual motivation. This low level of sexual motivation is not optimal in post-industrial societies where mate choice is not regulated, resulting in women, who have such predispositions, to be classified as suffering from a dysfunction. Predictions are derived from the proposed model, and matched with available evidence.
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Many people face difficulties or fail completely to establish and maintain long-term intimate relationships. This is puzzling because, given the evolutionary importance of mating, we would expect that evolutionary forces would have endowed most people with adaptations that promote success in intimate relationships. This does not appear to have happened, and the present paper explores the reasons why. In particular, on the basis of anthropological and historical evidence, it is argued that the mechanisms involved in mate choice were shaped by selection forces in a context where mating was regulated. The situation in which individuals have to find mates almost completely on their own, constitutes therefore an evolutionarily novel situation for which selection forces had not sufficient time to produce adaptive changes. The present paper nominates several mechanisms involved in mate choice which may not have been optimized to deal effectively with the demands of the contemporary mating context. This perspective can promote a deeper understanding of the difficulties people face in intimate relationships, and provide a sound basis for therapy to address them.
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Evidence from the anthropological record indicates that in most human societies, parents control the mating access to their offspring. Based on these data, a model of sexual selection has been recently proposed, whereby along with female and male choice, parental choice constitutes a significant sexual selection force in our species. This model was found to provide a good account for the mating patterns which are typical of foraging societies. By employing data from the Standard Cross Cultural Sample, the present study aims at examining whether this model can also account for the mating patterns typical of agricultural and pastoral societies. In addition, comparisons between different society types are made and two model-derived hypotheses are tested. First, it is hypothesised that parents have more control over their offspring's mate choices in non-foraging societies. Second, it is hypothesised that male parents exert greater decision making power in agropastoral societies than in hunting and gathering ones. Both hypotheses are supported by the results presented here. The evolutionary implications of these findings are also explored.
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Literature in evolutionary psychology suggests that mate choice has been the primary mechanism of sexual selection in humans, but this conclusion conforms neither to theoretical predictions nor available evidence. Contests override other mechanisms of sexual selection; that is, when individuals can exclude their competitors by force or threat of force, mate choice, sperm competition, and other mechanisms are impossible. Mates are easier to monopolize in two dimensional mating environments, such as land, than in three-dimensional environments, such as air, water, and trees. Thus, two-dimensional mating environments may tend to favor the evolution of contests. The two-dimensionality of the human mating environment, along with phylogeny, the spatial and temporal clustering of mates and competitors, and anatomical considerations, predict that contest competition should have been the primary mechanism of sexual selection in men. A functional analysis supports this prediction. Men's traits are better designed for contest competition than for other sexual selection mechanisms; size, muscularity, strength, aggression, and the manufacture and use of weapons probably helped ancestral males win contests directly, and deep voices and facial hair signal dominance more effectively than they increase attractiveness. However, male monopolization of females was imperfect, and female mate choice, sperm competition, and sexual coercion also likely shaped men's traits. In contrast, male mate choice was probably central in women's mating competition because ancestral females could not constrain the choices of larger and more aggressive males through force, and attractive women could obtain greater male investment. Neotenous female features and body fat deposition on the breasts and hips appear to have been shaped by male mate choice.
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Much of the evolutionary literature on human mating is based on the assumption of extensive female choice during the history of our species. However, ethnographic evidence from foraging societies reveals that, in societies thought to be akin to those of our ancestors, female choice is constrained by the control that parents exercise over their daughters. Data from 190 hunting and gathering societies indicate that almost all reproduction takes place while the woman is married and that the institution of marriage is regulated by parents and close kin. Parents are able to influence the mating decisions of both sons and daughters, but stronger control is exercised with regard to daughters; male parents have more say in selecting in-laws than their female counterparts. In light of the fact that parental control is the typical pattern of mate choice among extant foragers, it is likely that this pattern was also prevalent throughout human evolution. Because daughters' preferences can be expected not to fully coincide with those of their parents, research to date may thus have simultaneously overestimated the contribution of female preferences to processes of sexual selection and underestimated the contribution of parental preferences to such processes.
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Contemporary mate preferences can provide important clues to human reproductive history. Little is known about which characteristics people value in potential mates. Five predictions were made about sex differences in human mate preferences based on evolutionary conceptions of parental investment, sexual selection, human reproductive capacity, and sexual asymmetries regarding certainty of paternity versus maternity. The predictions centered on how each sex valued earning capacity, ambition— industriousness, youth, physical attractiveness, and chastity. Predictions were tested in data from 37 samples drawn from 33 countries located on six continents and five islands (total N = 10,047). For 27 countries, demographic data on actual age at marriage provided a validity check on questionnaire data. Females were found to value cues to resource acquisition in potential mates more highly than males. Characteristics signaling reproductive capacity were valued more by males than by females. These sex differences may reflect different evolutionary selection pressures on human males and females; they provide powerful cross-cultural evidence of current sex differences in reproductive strategies. Discussion focuses on proximate mechanisms underlying mate preferences, consequences for human intrasexual competition, and the limitations of this study.
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Asymmetrical fitness benefits between parents and offspring result in the ideal spouse not being the ideal in-law. This enables parents to attempt to control the mating behavior of their children, and when they succeed, parental choice becomes a primary sexual selection force. A number of studies indicate that parental choice is dominant in contemporary pre-industrial societies. This paper presents evidence from the historical record which indicates that parental choice was also dominant during the later stages of human evolution. More specifically, 40 variables have been coded for a sample of 16 historical societies. Consistent with the model of parental choice, it is found that mating is controlled by parents, male parents exercise more control over marriage arrangements than females, and more control is exercised over female than male offspring. Finally, the specific qualities that parents desire in an in-law and offspring desire in a spouse have also been identified. The implications of these findings are discussed.
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Introduction: Accurate estimates of prevalence/incidence are important in understanding the true burden of male and female sexual dysfunction and in identifying risk factors for prevention efforts. Aim: To provide recommendations/guidelines concerning state-of-the-art knowledge for the epidemiology/risk factors of sexual dysfunctions in men and women. Methods: An International Consultation in collaboration with the major urology and sexual medicine associations assembled over 200 multidisciplinary experts from 60 countries into 17 committees. Committee members established specific objectives and scopes for various male and female sexual medicine topics. The recommendations concerning state-of-the-art knowledge in the respective sexual medicine topic represent the opinion of experts from five continents developed in a process over a 2-year period. Concerning the Epidemiology/Risk Factors Committee, there were seven experts from four countries. Main outcome measure: Expert opinion was based on grading of evidence-based medical literature, widespread internal committee discussion, public presentation and debate. Results: Standard definitions of male and female sexual dysfunctions are needed. The incidence rate for erectile dysfunction is 25-30 cases per thousand person years and increases with age. There are no parallel data for women's sexual dysfunctions. The prevalence of sexual dysfunction increases as men and women age; about 40-45% of adult women and 20-30% of adult men have at least one manifest sexual dysfunction. Common risk factor categories associated with sexual dysfunction exist for men and women including: individual general health status, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, other genitourinary disease, psychiatric/psychological disorders, other chronic diseases, and socio-demographic conditions. Endothelial dysfunction is a condition present in many cases of erectile dysfunction and there are common etiological pathways for other vascular disease states. Increasing physical activity lowers incidence of ED in males who initiate follow-up in their middle ages. Conclusions: There is a need for more epidemiologic research in male and female sexual dysfunction.
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We describe an integrated theory of individual differences that traces the behavioral development of life history from genes to brain to reproductive strategy. We provide evidence that a single common factor, the K-Factor, underpins a variety of life-history parameters, including an assortment of sexual, reproductive, parental, familial, and social behaviors. We explore the psychometrics and behavioral genetics of the K-Factor and offer a speculative account of the proximate mediation of this adaptive patterning of behavior as instantiated in well-established functions of specific areas of the human brain, including the frontal lobes, amygdala, and hippocampus. We then apply Life History Theory to predict patterns of development within the brain that are paedomorphic (i.e., development begins later, proceeds at a slower rate, and has an earlier cessation) and peramorphic (i.e., development begins early, proceeds at a faster rate, and has a later cessation).
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Modern humans have inherited the mating strategies that led to the success of their ancestors. These strategies include long-term mating, short-term mating, extra-pair mating, mate poaching, and mate guarding. This article presents empirical evidence supporting evolution-based hypotheses about the complexities of these mating strategies. Since men and women historically confronted different adaptive problems in the mating domain, the sexes differ profoundly in evolved strategic solutions. These differences include possessing different mate preferences, different desires for short-term mating, and differences in the triggers that evoke sexual jealousy. The study of human mating is one of the “success stories” of evolutionary psychology.
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This article proposes a contextual-evolutionary theory of human mating strategies. Both men and women are hypothesized to have evolved distinct psychological mechanisms that underlie short-term and long-term strategies. Men and women confront different adaptive problems in short-term as opposed to long-term mating contexts. Consequently, different mate preferences become activated from their strategic repertoires. Nine key hypotheses and 22 predictions from Sexual Strategies Theory are outlined and tested empirically. Adaptive problems sensitive to context include sexual accessibility, fertility assessment, commitment seeking and avoidance, immediate and enduring resource procurement, paternity certainty, assessment of mate value, and parental investment. Discussion summarizes 6 additional sources of behavioral data, outlines adaptive problems common to both sexes, and suggests additional contexts likely to cause shifts in mating strategy.
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Social exchange and evolutionary models of mate selection incorporate economic assumptions but have not considered a key distinction between necessities and luxuries. This distinction can clarify an apparent paradox: Status and attractiveness, though emphasized by many researchers, are not typically rated highly by research participants. Three studies supported the hypothesis that women and men first ensure sufficient levels of necessities in potential mates before considering many other characteristics rated as more important in prior surveys. In Studies 1 and 2, participants designed ideal long-term mates, purchasing various characteristics with 3 different budgets. Study 3 used a mate-screening paradigm and showed that people inquire 1st about hypothesized necessities. Physical attractiveness was a necessity to men, status and resources were necessities to women, and kindness and intelligence were necessities to both.
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Personality traits such as low emotional stability and low empathy have a considerable negative impact on an individual's mating success. This impact is more severe in cases where such traits reach extreme levels and are classified as personality disorders. Several evolutionary models have been proposed to account for the relative high prevalence of these apparently maladaptive traits. The present paper contributes to the explanatory power of these models by putting forward the hypothesis that in ancestral human societies selection pressures on personality traits that predict success in intimate relationships had been weak. The reason why is that mate choice had been controlled by parents, mainly fathers, who did not place considerable weight on these traits in a prospective son- and daughter-in-law, and who were willing to impose substantial costs on their children in order to benefit themselves from a marriage alliance.
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Although there is a small but cumulative body of literature concerning the psychological sequelae of singlehood, there is remarkably little research concerned with singlehood as a dependent variable. The present study extends earlier demographic research on singlehood by reporting several childhood family life variables that are not available in studies based upon census and vital statistics data. The concern is with examining the structural and interactional features of the person's childhood family of orientation as they relate to never marrying as an adult. Separate analysis is carried out for males and females throughout the paper. The study reveals several correlates of singlehood. The findings replicate earlier research in showing that higher levels of intelligence, education, and occupation are associated with singlehood among females. Poor interpersonal relations with parents and siblings in the family of orientation are associated with singlehood among males.
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Rather than viewing individual differences as merely the raw material upon which selection operates, this book provides theories and empirical evidence which suggest that personality and individual differences are central to evolved psychological mechanisms and behavioral functioning. The book draws theoretical inspiration from life history theory, evolutionary genetics, molecular genetics, developmental psychology, personality psychology, and evolutionary psychology, while utilizing the theories of the "best and the brightest" international scientists working on this cutting edge paradigm shift. The first three sections analyze personality and the adaptive landscape; here, the book offers a novel conceptual framework for examining "personality assessment adaptations." Because individuals in a social environment have momentous consequences for creating and solving adaptive problems, humans have evolved "difference-detecting mechanisms" designed to make crucial social decisions such as mate selection, friend selection, kin investment, coalition formation, and hierarchy negotiation. The second section examines developmental and life-history theoretical perspectives to explore the origins and development of personality over the lifespan. The third section focuses on the relatively new field of evolutionary genetics and explores which of the major evolutionary forces-such as balancing selection, mutation, co-evolutionary arms races, and drift-are responsible for the origins of personality and individual differences.
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Parents often disagree with their children over their choice of partner. Although the reasons may vary the outcome is very often one of conflict-a conflict peculiar to the human species. For the first time in one volume, Sexual Selection under Parental Choice employs an evolutionary perspective to understand this conflict and explore its implications.
Article
Written questionnaires including a 70–item adjective checklist, a value sort, the “Who Am I?” Twenty Statements Test, measures of morale, and questions about attitudes toward marriage and demographic characteristics were administered to samples of 66 childless, never-married women and 37 currently married women, 29 of whom had children. The purpose was to explore the differences and similarities in the self-concepts of single and married women. There was little difference in morale between the groups. Single women had more psychiatric symptoms characteristic of the obsessive-compulsive personality type. Although the single women valued personal growth and achievement, the married women valued personal relationships. Single women were higher on assertion and poise clusters of adjectives. On the “Who Am I ?” test, the married women were more likely to identify with ascribed characteristics, kinship roles, and household activities, whereas the single women identified as self-determined.
Article
The purpose of this study was to examine factors that may underlie current marriage trends. A community sample of 217 unmarried adults aged over 30 years was surveyed regarding their reasons for being single, desire for marriage and life satisfaction. Results suggest, first, that unmarried adults attribute being single to both barriers and choices. Second, men desire marriage more than do women and the never-married want to marry more than the divorced. Divorced women have the least desire for marriage. Divorced individuals also report more life satisfaction than never-married individuals. Mediational analyses suggest that men have more desire for marriage than do women because they have less social support and that never-married individuals have more desire for marriage and lower life satisfaction than divorced individuals because they have lower self-esteem. Implications for counseling and future research are discussed.
Article
This . . . book is the first to present a unified theory of human mating behavior. [It] is based on the most massive study of human mating ever undertaken, encompassing more than 10,000 people of all ages from thirty-seven cultures worldwide. If we all want love, why is there so much conflict in our most cherished relationships? To answer this question, we must look into our evolutionary past, according to David M. Buss. The book discusses casual sex and long-term relationships, sexual conflict, the elusive quest for harmony between the sexes, and much more. Buss's research leads to a radical shift from the standard view of men's and women's sexual psychology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
"Passions Within Reason" re-evaluates the traditional models of human behavior in light of "a simple paradox," as Frank states, "namely, that in many situations the conscious pursuit of self-interest is incompatible with its attainment." The self interest theory inspires self-interest; we expect the worst of others and act accordingly. But Frank shows, with many eloquent examples taken from a whole range of human behavior, that pure self interest leads to disaster, for oneself and society. In "Passions Within Reason" Frank incorporates new developments from biology, psychology, and game and bargaining theory into a micro-economic theory that transcends the traditional "rational choice" model. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Sixty single women 35 to 65 years old, previously married or never married, were interviewed about the satisfactions and stresses of the single status. Respondents were categorized as having high, medium, or low life satisfaction. Life satisfaction was found to be significantly correlated to such factors as good health, not being lonely, living with a female housemate, having many casual friends, and being invested in work. Half the women mentioned having sexual needs, which were or were not fulfilled. The other half stated that they did not have sexual needs. These two groups did not differ in life satisfaction. Regrets about not having had children occurred in one-quarter of the childless women, without necessarily implying low life satisfaction. Only 15% of the entire sample had low life satisfaction, a percentage similar to that found in the general population.
Article
To provide a measure of the Big Five for contexts in which participant time is severely limited, we abbreviated the Big Five Inventory (BFI-44) to a 10-item version, the BFI-10. To permit its use in cross-cultural research, the BFI-10 was developed simultaneously in several samples in both English and German. Results focus on the psychometric characteristics of the 2-item scales on the BFI-10, including their part-whole correlations with the BFI-44 scales, retest reliability, structural validity, convergent validity with the NEO-PI-R and its facets, and external validity using peer ratings. Overall, results indicate that the BFI-10 scales retain significant levels of reliability and validity. Thus, reducing the items of the BFI-44 to less than a fourth yielded effect sizes that were lower than those for the full BFI-44 but still sufficient for research settings with truly limited time constraints.
Article
Adaptations are psychological and behavioral mechanisms designed through evolution to serve specific purposes ultimately related to reproductive success. Although adaptations are inherently functional, in some cases their operation can nevertheless cause personal and social dysfunction. We describe a theoretical framework for understanding, predicting, and reducing the dysfunctional consequences of psychological adaptations. We discuss three general sources of dysfunction: a) the existence of adaptive tradeoffs, b) mismatches between current environments and ancestral environments, and c) individual differences. The paper applies this framework primarily to the topic of social anxiety, a psychological phenomenon marked by concerns pertaining to social rejection and embarrassment. Although social anxiety can serve useful functions, it can also involve excessive worry, negative affect, and avoidance of social situations, leading to significant distress and social impairment. We consider sources of dysfunction in social anxiety and discuss implications for policy, including recommendations for psychological, situational, and biological interventions. We also discuss broader applications of this theoretical framework to other areas of social life.
Article
Several recent, large epidemiologic and family studies suggest important temporal changes in the rates of major depression: an increase in the rates in the cohorts born after World War II; a decrease in the age of onset with an increase in the late teenaged and early adult years; an increase between 1960 and 1975 in the rates of depression for all ages; a persistent gender effect, with the risk of depression consistently two to three times higher among women than men across all adult ages; a persistent family effect, with the risk about two to three times higher in first-degree relatives as compared with controls; and the suggestion of a narrowing of the differential risk to men and women due to a greater increase in risk of depression among young men. These trends, drawn from studies using comparable methods and modern diagnostic criteria, are evident in the United States, Sweden, Germany, Canada, and New Zealand, but not in comparable studies conducted in Korea and Puerto Rico and of Mexican-Americans living in the United States. These cohort changes cannot be fully attributed to artifacts of reporting, recall, mortality, or labeling and have implications for understanding the etiology of depression and for clinical practice.
Article
Openness to Experience is one of the 5 broad factors that subsume most personality traits. Openness is usually considered an intrapsychic dimension, defined in terms of characteristics of consciousness. However, different ways of approaching and processing experience lead to different value systems that exercise a profound effect on social interactions. In this article, the author reviews the effects of Openness versus Closedness in cultural innovation, political ideology, social attitudes, marital choice, and interpersonal relations. The construct of Openness and its measures could profitably be incorporated into research conducted by social psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, and historians.
Article
Premature ejaculation (PE) is one of the most common male sexual dysfunctions. Successful treatment of PE has been hampered by the existence of a variety of definitions and diagnostic criteria and the lack of large, long-term studies of treatment efficacy. Numerous, diverse treatment approaches with varying degrees of efficacy have been used; these include behavioral, cognitive, and sex therapy techniques, and pharmacologic management with anti-depressants, phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors, and topical anesthetics. The approach most likely to provide success is a combination of cognitive and sex therapy with a pharmacologic agent of proven efficacy that has an easy-to-follow dosing regimen.
Intimate relationships
  • R Miller
Miller, R. (2011). Intimate relationships (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Environments and adaptations: Then and now
  • C Crawford
Crawford, C. (1998). Environments and adaptations: Then and now. In C. Crawford, & D. L. Krebs (Eds.), Handbook of evolutionary psychology (pp. 275-302). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Causes for remaining single. A comparative study
  • B Prabhakar
Prabhakar, B. (2011). Causes for remaining single. A comparative study. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 6, 203-210.