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Emotional Accessibility Is More Important Than Sexual Accessibility in Evaluating Romantic Relationships – Especially for Women: A Conjoint Analysis


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Prior research examining mate expulsion indicates that women are more likely to expel a mate due to deficits in emotional access while men are more likely to expel a mate due to deficits in sexual access. Prior research highlights the importance of accounting for measurement limitations (e.g., the use of incremental vs. forced-choice measures) when assessing attitudes toward sexual and emotional infidelity, Sagarin et al., 2012, Wade and Brown, 2012). The present research uses conjoint analysis, a novel methodology for controlling several limitations of using continuous self-report measures in mate expulsion research. Participants (N = 181, 128 women) recruited from Bucknell University and several psychology recruitment listservs in the United States rated nine profiles that varied in three potential levels of emotional and sexual accessibility. Men were more likely to want to break up with a partner due to sexual accessibility deficits, whereas women were more likely to want to break up due to emotional accessibility deficits. However, regardless of sex, emotional inaccessibility was more likely to produce mate expulsion. These findings are consistent with prior theory and highlight the need to disentangle emotional accessibility into its constituent in-pair benefits. This research also illustrates the utility of conjoint analysis as a statistical tool for studying how humans resolve trade-offs among competing outcomes during romantic decision-making.
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fpsyg-09-00632 May 14, 2018 Time: 13:37 # 1
published: 14 May 2018
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00632
Edited by:
Peter Karl Jonason,
Western Sydney University, Australia
Reviewed by:
Maryanne Fisher,
Saint Mary’s University, Canada
Gregory Louis Carter,
York St John University,
United Kingdom
T. J. Wade
Specialty section:
This article was submitted to
Evolutionary Psychology,
a section of the journal
Frontiers in Psychology
Received: 15 August 2017
Accepted: 16 April 2018
Published: 14 May 2018
Wade TJ and Mogilski J (2018)
Emotional Accessibility Is More
Important Than Sexual Accessibility
in Evaluating Romantic
Relationships – Especially for Women:
A Conjoint Analysis.
Front. Psychol. 9:632.
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00632
Emotional Accessibility Is
More Important Than Sexual
Accessibility in Evaluating Romantic
Relationships – Especially for
Women: A Conjoint Analysis
T. J. Wade1*and Justin Mogilski2
1Psychology, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, United States, 2Psychology, Oakland University, Rochester, MI,
United States
Prior research examining mate expulsion indicates that women are more likely to expel a
mate due to deficits in emotional access while men are more likely to expel a mate due
to deficits in sexual access. Prior research highlights the importance of accounting for
measurement limitations (e.g., the use of incremental vs. forced-choice measures) when
assessing attitudes toward sexual and emotional infidelity, Sagarin et al., 2012,Wade
and Brown, 2012). The present research uses conjoint analysis, a novel methodology for
controlling several limitations of using continuous self-report measures in mate expulsion
research. Participants (N= 181, 128 women) recruited from Bucknell University and
several psychology recruitment listservs in the United States rated nine profiles that
varied in three potential levels of emotional and sexual accessibility. Men were more
likely to want to break up with a partner due to sexual accessibility deficits, whereas
women were more likely to want to break up due to emotional accessibility deficits.
However, regardless of sex, emotional inaccessibility was more likely to produce mate
expulsion. These findings are consistent with prior theory and highlight the need to
disentangle emotional accessibility into its constituent in-pair benefits. This research also
illustrates the utility of conjoint analysis as a statistical tool for studying how humans
resolve trade-offs among competing outcomes during romantic decision-making.
Keywords: mate expulsion, sex, psychological methods, conjoint analysis, accessibility
Men and women face challenges when selecting, attracting, and retaining mates. Prior research
documents robust sex differences in men’s and women’s typical mate preferences (see Schmitt,
2015, for a review), mate retention behaviors (e.g., Lopes et al., 2017), and reactions to real
or hypothetical partner loss (e.g., Kuhle, 2011). Men tend to report greater distress imagining
a partner’s sexual contact with another man whereas women report greater distress from a
partner’s emotional or financial investment in another woman (see Sagarin et al., 2012, for
a review). Likewise, recent work suggests that romantic conflict reconciliation (Wade et al.,
2017) and romantic relationship dissolution (i.e., mate expulsion; Wade and Brown, 2012)
follow similar patterns. For example, Wade et al. (2017) asked men and women to rate the
effectiveness of several reconciliation behaviors in resolving romantic conflict. Men reported that
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a partner’s sexual accessibility (e.g., giving sex/sexual
favors) would be more effective than did women, whereas
women reported that “spending time together, crying, and
apologizing” were more effective. This research suggests that sex
differentiation in romantic cognition and its resultant behavior
extends to decisions about whether to expel a current mate.
These sex differences have been shaped by the adaptive
problems that men and women typically encounter when
deciding to maintain or dissolve a romantic pair-bond (see
Edlund and Sagarin, 2017, for a review). Insofar as sexual
access is paramount to male mate selection and partner
commitment is principle during women’s mate selection, one
might expect a partner’s sexual or emotional accessibility to
influence mate expulsion. A partner’s willingness to have sex
maybe most important for men’s relationship termination
decisions. A female partner’s withdrawal of sex compromises
her reproductive potential and may diminish her partner’s
paternity certainty. Thus, one would expect men to be most
distressed by a partner’s withdrawal of sexual access. Conversely,
a partner’s willingness to invest time and resources into the
pair-bond (i.e., emotional accessibility) may be most important
for women’s relationship termination decisions. That is, women
may become more distressed by a male partner’s emotional
inaccessibility or withdrawal of valuable in-pair investment (e.g.,
time, money, or interpersonal support). This dearth of emotional
support or intimacy may indicate that he no longer loves his
partner or is unwilling to sufficiently devote effort toward her
(Buss, 1988;Wade et al., 2009). Certainly, third parties who offer
this investment are perceived as more likely to be successful in
facilitating partner defection (i.e., mate poaching; Schmitt and
Buss, 2001;Mogilski and Wade, 2013).
Few studies have examined sex differences in relationship
termination due to partner inaccessibility. Wade and Brown
(2012) examined how incremental deficits in sexual access and
emotional access affect relationship termination decisions using
an evolutionary theory perspective. Consistent with a priori
predictions, they found that a lack of emotional access led to
mate expulsion for women and a lack of sexual access led to mate
expulsion for men. From this, Wade and Brown (2012) concluded
that men and women differ in the importance they place on
a partner’s sexual and emotional access for mate expulsion
decisions. Nevertheless, it is possible that these differences were
due to the manner by which participants were asked to assess
emotional and sexual accessibility deficits. Prior work suggests
that asking participants to assess the salience of a partner’s
infidelity using Likert-type or forced-choice measures limit the
conclusions that researchers may draw about sex differences
in reaction to sexual versus emotional stimuli in evolutionary
psychological studies (DeSteno et al., 2002). Specifically, these
methods prevent researchers from drawing conclusions about
how important a partner’s sexual versus emotional accessibility is
when assessed alongside the other. For example, in forced-choice
designs, participants are limited to expressing their reaction to
one type of infidelity versus the other while assuming that the
other type is non-existent (e.g., “How upset would you be if your
partner was emotionally accessible but sexually inaccessible?”).
In naturalistic environments, this situation is unlikely to occur,
and the extent to which a partner’s extra-dyadic behaviors entail
emotional or sexual involvement may vary. Similarly, asking
participants to react using continuous measures (e.g., “On a scale
from 1 (not at all) to 7 (extremely), how upset would you be
if you caught your partner having sex with [or falling in love
with] someone else?”) allows participants to assess sexual and
emotional accessibility independently. This prevents researchers
from drawing conclusions about how important each type of
access would be if assessed relative to the other.
Conjoint Analysis
To address these limitations, we implemented conjoint analysis to
examine how men and women prioritize a partner’s sexual versus
emotional accessibility when asked to assess them within partner
profiles. Conjoint analysis is a popular multivariate analysis
within marketing research (Gustafsson et al., 2007;Lohrke et al.,
2010) and is a novel analytic tool within human mating research
(e.g., Mogilski et al., 2014;Mogilski and Welling, 2017). This
technique is used to study how individuals prioritize constituent
features during holistic evaluation of multi-attribute romantic
partners. Participants are asked to rank several versions of a
partner, wherein each version consists of differing combinations
of each feature under investigation. From these rankings,
conjoint analysis provides the researcher with estimates of the
relative contribution of each attribute to participants’ overall
evaluations of the product.
Adopting a conjoint approach to studying romantic decision-
making is advantageous insofar as human mating resembles
a “mating market” (Noë, 2001) whereby individuals present
versions of themselves to potential partners and attempt to
secure the best quality mate given their own circumstances and
market value. Research into human mate choice and partner
preferences thereby nicely parallels marketing research, except
that the “products” are potential mates. In the first study to use
this technique to investigate men’s and women’s assessments of
potential long- and short-term romantic partners, Mogilski et al.
(2014) used CA to assess the relative importance of a partner’s
history of sexual fidelity relative to four other mate attributes:
physical attractiveness, financial stability, emotional relationship
investment, and partner similarity. Using a fractional-factorial
design (Hair et al., 1995), they generated an orthogonal array
of 19 hypothetical partner profiles, each composed of a different
combination of mate attributes. Attributes were assigned three
potential levels reflecting undesirable, moderately desirable, and
highly desirable amounts. For example, an individual might be
described as “high in physical attractiveness, low in financial
stability, high in sexual fidelity, low in emotional investment, and
medium in partner similarity.” Participants were then instructed
to rank these 19 profiles by their preference to start a long- and
short-term relationship with each individual described. Using
CA, they found that both men and women prioritized a potential
long-term partner’s history of sexual fidelity over each other
attribute and prioritized a potential short-term partner’s history
of sexual fidelity, physical attractiveness, and financial stability
over a partner’s emotional investment and similarity. By forcing
participants to evaluate potential partners holistically, CA differs
from traditional procedures in that it measures the relative
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Wade and Mogilski Mate Expulsion
heuristic value of individual attributes within the context of
complex, multivariate personality profiles. In this sense, CA is
a simple yet elegant technique for studying how individuals
prioritize certain partner characteristics at the cost of losing
CA allows researchers to draw conclusions about how traits
are prioritized by virtue of how the data are collected from
participants. Studies measuring mate preferences typically obtain
both independent and dependent variables from participants
and then use these variables to estimate a predictive model.
This is referred to as a “compositional” model (Tabachnick
and Fidell, 2013). By contrast, CA uses a “decompositional”
model, whereby researchers specify levels for each independent
variable beforehand and present participants with profiles
containing different combinations of these levels. Participants
provide rankings of these profiles as dependent variables and
the researchers create a predictive model by using CA to
“decompose” these ratings into estimates of how important each
attribute is to a participant’s ranking decisions.
This decompositional approach has several inherent benefits
for studying romantic decision-making. First, it can be difficult
for individuals to verbalize their internal preferences (Wilson
and Dunn, 1986), and retrospective or imagined scenarios can
cause response revisionism based on social desirability, faulty
memory, or inability to articulate decision-making processes
(Shepherd and Zacharakis, 1997). CA avoids these problems by
presenting profiles that participants rank in real-time (Lohrke
et al., 2010). Second, rather than rating attributes independently,
participants consider the importance of attributes relative to each
other attribute. In this way, participants’ hypothetical romantic
evaluations reflect their preferences for an entire individual as
opposed to isolated features of an individual. Finally, participants
are presented with a limited number of potential partners to
rank. When participants report ideal mate preferences, they
may mentally sample from an unlimited pool of potential
mates. Lenton et al. (2009) found that people seem to adopt a
less time-consuming, non-compensatory strategy in which they
use fewer, easily assessed cues, such as physical attractiveness
(Kurzban and Weeden, 2005), and make fewer trade-offs when
selecting a mate from a larger sample of options. Lenton and
Stewart (2008) also found that participants were more likely
to use a non-compensatory strategy when choosing from a
large set of 64 web-dating profiles than from a small set of
four profiles. This suggests that participants may use more or
fewer mate attributes to select a mate when choosing from a
limited versus unlimited pool of potential mates, respectively.
Relatedly, participants may form preexisting assumptions about
features not under investigation when the number and quality
of attributes being investigated are not restricted. CA restricts
the number of attributes evaluated by participants by using
predefined levels for each attribute. Arguably, this presents
participants with a more realistic pool from which to select
hypothetical mates.
Current Study
In the present research we applied conjoint analysis to studying
mate expulsion decisions by having male and female participants
rate a collection of nine profiles, each depicting differing amounts
of sexual and emotional partner accessibility. In line with
previous research, women were expected to rank large deficits in
emotional access as more likely to lead to mate expulsion while
men were expected to rank large deficits in sexual access as more
likely to lead to mate expulsion.
Participants (n= 181, 128 women, 53 men; age: M= 21.17,
SD = 6.24, range = 17–56) were recruited from undergraduate
psychology courses at Bucknell University, and from online
listservs. Reported racial composition was 89.5% White, 3.3%
Black, 3.3% Asian, and 3.3% Hispanic. Participants were also
asked to report whether they were current in a romantic
relationship (39.2%), single (50.8%) or unsure about their
relationship status (9.9%), if they identified as heterosexual
(93.9%), homosexual (2.8%) or other (3.3%), and whether they
were currently using any form of hormone-based contraception
(men: no = 100%; women: no = 52.3%, yes = 46.9%).
Undergraduate students were compensated with course credit for
participation. This research was reviewed by the local IRB.
All experimental materials were presented using Qualtrics, an
online browser-based survey software program. After completing
the informed consent statement, participants were asked to think
of a committed romantic relationship that they have had in the
past, that they have now, or that they would like to have and
imagine that there is a problem in that relationship. They were
then presented with a collection of nine profiles, each depicting
differing amounts of their partner’s sexual and emotional access.
Sexual and emotional access were defined for participants as
Sexual accessibility refers to how often your partner is
interested in having sex or engaging in any sexually gratifying
activities with you.
Emotional accessibility refers to how often and to what
degree your partner is emotionally available and open to you.
An orthogonal array of nine profiles was generated using IBM
SPSS 21 (see Table 1). Each profile was presented as a unique
combination of emotional and sexual access, representing “high,
“medium,” and “low” access. For example, participants might
have been shown partners who were “high in sexual access, but
low in emotional access,” “low in sexual access, but medium
in emotional access,” etc. Participants then presented the text
below and asked to rank these profiles relative to one another by
how likely would break up with their partner if this were how
sexually/emotionally accessible they were:
Each scenario is listed on the left side of your browser. The boxed
area to the right of the scenarios is where you will sort and rank
each scenario. To do this, you simply have to left-click and drag
each scenario into the box. You can also left-click and drag each
scenario around within the box in case you wish to reorganize them.
The scenario for which you would MOST likely break up with your
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partner should be rated highest whereas the scenario for which
you would LEAST likely to break up with your partner should be
rated lowest.Please rank the following for how likely you would
break up with your partner if this were how sexually/emotionally
accessible he/she was.Please take your time and be thorough
and honest in your rankings. Once you have organized all of
the scenarios, please review your rankings to make sure they are
Conjoint analysis was performed (see Hair et al., 1995) to
assess the relative importance of sexual and emotional access
on participants’ profile ranking decisions. Mean importance
values were calculated, which characterize the relative importance
of each attribute (i.e., emotional and sexual accessibility) by
comparing the range in utility estimates of each level within
each attribute (i.e., high, medium, and low). Utility estimates
are analogous to regression coefficients and provide a measure
of preference for each attribute level. As the range among these
estimates increases, this indicates that a change between high,
medium, and low for an attribute produces a proportionally
greater shift in participants’ evaluations of each profile. Therefore,
importance values provide a percentage estimate of the relative
utility of changing one trait relative to another. Importance values
for all attributes collectively sum to 100.
A 2(sex) ×2(type of access) repeated measures ANOVA was
performed to examine whether there were sex differences in
importance values for sexual and emotional access. There was a
significant interaction for sex and type of access, F(1,179) = 10.22,
p= 0.002. Two post hoc independent samples t-tests with
Bonferroni corrections revealed that men’s importance values
were significantly higher than women’s importance values for
sexual accessibility, t(179) = 3.20, p= 0.002, whereas women’s
importance values were higher than men’s importance values
for emotional accessibility, t(179) = 3.20, p= 0.002, see
Table 2. Additionally, a significant main effect for type of
access occurred, F(1,179) = 10.42, p= 0.001. Ignoring sex of
participant, importance values for emotional access were higher
than importance values for sexual access, F(1,179) = 10.422,
p= 0.001 (emotional access: M= 58.05, SD = 22.20; sexual access:
M= 41.95, SD = 22.20).
TABLE 1 | Orthogonal array of partner profiles and their respective attribute
Profile variation Sexual accessibility Emotional accessibility
1 Low Low
2 Low High
3 High Low
4 Medium High
5 Medium Medium
6 Medium Low
7 High Medium
8 Low Medium
9 High High
TABLE 2 | Mean perceived importance of accessibility type across sex.
Accessibility value Sex Mean
Sexual Male 49.95 (22.46)a
Female 38.64 (21.32)a
Emotional Male 50.05 (22.46)b
Female 61.36 (21.32)b
Higher numbers indicate greater importance, standard deviations are in
parentheses. Superscripts denote significant comparisons, p <0.05.
In deciding whether to terminate a romantic relationship, women
prioritized a partner’s emotional accessibility relative to his sexual
accessibility whereas men prioritized a mate’s sexual accessibility
relative to her emotional accessibility. These results are consistent
with Sexual Strategies Theory (Buss and Schmitt, 1993;Buss,
1997). Since men have a lower parental investment need than
women (Trivers, 1972), men may be less likely to maintain
relationships with women who have low sex drive, are prudish,
or are otherwise disinterested in sex with him—all qualities that
signal lack of sexual accessibility. By comparison, women may
have a lower threshold for a partner’s emotional inaccessibility
insofar as partner’s in-pair commitment enhanced offspring
investment (Trivers, 1972;Buss and Schmitt, 1993;Buss, 1997),
particularly for long-term mating.
Prior research on reactions to infidelity shows that men and
women’s reactions to a partner’s commission of infidelity are also
related to the emotional access and sexual access of their partners.
Shackelford and Buss (1997) and Wiederman and Kendall (1999)
report that men are more upset by a partner’s sexually infidelity
while women are more upset by a partner’s emotional infidelity.
Men’s greater upset for a partner’s commission of sexual infidelity
occurs because his sexual access (and paternity certainty) is being
curtailed by another man’s efforts. Women’s greater upset for
a partner’s commission of emotional infidelity occurs because
their access to a partner’s time and support is being curtailed
by another woman. Relatedly, Shackelford et al. (2002) report
that men are also less likely to forgive a partner for committing
sexual infidelity while women are less likely to forgive a partner
for committing emotional infidelity. A commission of sexual
infidelity could restrict or curtail a man’s sexual access to his
partner (i.e., she may be less interested or available for sex with
him), and a partner’s commission of emotional infidelity could
indicate that a women’s partner is less interested in or available
for in-pair support.
Also, sexual access plays an important role in sexual conflict
for men and in relationship satisfaction (Betzig, 1989;Buss,
1989a;Wade and Brown, 2012). Men place a premium on
women’s ability to reproduce (Betzig, 1989;Buckle et al., 1996).
Consistent with this, Shackelford and Buss (1997) report that
competition among men for sexual access to reproductively
valuable women is more intense than competition among women
for reproductively valuable men. Thus, perhaps not surprisingly,
Sprecher and Cate (2004) report that men are less satisfied
overall when their wives are sexually withholding. Similarly,
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Buss (1989a) reports that men report the greatest anger and upset
over women who accepted resources from them but failed to
provide sexual access in return. Consistent with this, Felmlee
et al. (1990) report that sexual intimacy is a positive predictor
of relationship stability. By contrast, women desire men who are
willing to invest their resources and who are willing to commit
in the long-term context (Buss, 1989b, 1997, 2006;Buss and
Schmitt, 1993). Since women typically desire a larger parental
investment from their male partners (Trivers, 1972), women also
desire a long-term commitment from their male partners (Buss,
1989b), and interpersonal investment and love are facilitated
by emotional intimacy (Aron and Fraley, 1999). Therefore, a
male partner’s willingness to share his feelings/show his love
for his partner or is committed (emotional accessibility) is very
important for women.
Interestingly, we also found that emotional accessibility was
overall more important than sexual accessibility when ignoring
participant sex. These results are consistent with prior work
(Wade et al., 2017) showing that men and women rate emotional
commitment tactics as most effective for achieving reconciliation
after romantic conflict. Likewise, Wade et al. (2009) report that
men and women, overall, rate love acts that show emotional
commitment as most effective for expressing love within a
long-term pair-bond. Emotional accessibility may be more
important overall for long-term relationships insofar as partner
commitment entails benefits for both men (e.g., greater paternity
certainty) and women (e.g., greater commitment certainty).
Limitations and Future Directions
We did not include holdout profiles in the present study to
test for reliability of participants’ rankings of each profile.
Hold-out profiles are produced with the orthogonal array and
ranked alongside other profiles, but are not used to generate
the predictive model. Instead, the predictive model is generated
from participants’ rankings of non-holdout profiles and then used
to predict how the hold-out profiles should have been ranked
by each participant. This provides a correlation coefficient (tau)
showing how accurately the model predicts participants’ rankings
of the hold-out profiles relative to the others. Because participants
rated all possible profile permutations, all holdout profiles would
have been copies of existing profiles. Though we did not
use holdout profiles in this study, prior studies using similar
methodologies have shown strong tau coefficients (Mogilski
et al., 2014;Mogilski and Welling, 2017). Nevertheless, future
research using this technique should be careful to include holdout
profiles in the manner described in prior studies. Additionally,
the profiles in the current research were hypothetical. Additional
research including actual profiles may add even greater strength
to the findings of the current research.
Future work should distinguish facets of emotional
accessibility. Though traditional evolutionary models emphasize
women’s relatively greater desire for partner investment (e.g.,
Buss and Schmitt, 1993), this investment may be allocated by
a mate in diverse ways. For example, a partner could generate
protection (Bleske-Rechek and Buss, 2000, 2001;Lewis et al.,
2011), child care (Bouchard and Lee, 2000), social status (Felmlee,
2001), or emotional support (Schutte et al., 2001). Certainly,
sexual selection has crafted long-term romantic decision-making
to maximize a partner’s investment, but the manner by which
this investment is provisioned may alter how someone responds
to a partner’s emotional accessibility. For example, if a woman is
dependent on her partner because the partner’s absence exposes
them to risky or unstable conditions (e.g., environments with
high male-male competition and wealth; see Little et al., 2013),
she may be more willing to sacrifice her partner’s extradyadic
sexual accessibility insofar as he continues to provides physical
protection, the social or material capital to support her and her
offspring, or enough intimacy to feel in-pair security. Parsing
partner accessibility into its constituent benefits (e.g., protection,
child care, social influence, genetic health) may clarify which
features of emotional investment are prioritized within a given
mating market, and which aspects of a romantic relationship
women are less willing to sacrifice. Likewise, not all sexual
behavior is equally likely to result in cuckoldry. It is possible that
consistent inaccessibility of certain sexual behaviors (e.g., sexual
intercourse, oral sex, kissing) is relatively more distressing than
These findings support and add robustness to previous findings
(Wade and Brown, 2012) and confirm that sexual access is
prioritized for men’s mate expulsion decisions and emotional
access is prioritized for women’s mate expulsion decisions.
Furthermore, this research demonstrates the utility of conjoint
analysis for studying mate expulsion decisions and human
mating more generally. Compared to prior methods (e.g., Likert-
type and forced-choice measures) conjoint analysis assesses how
men and women heuristically prioritize a partner’s sexual and
emotional access when they weigh and compare each within a
single individual. This allows researchers to determine which
factors from among several are relatively more influential for
mate expulsion decisions.
A version of this manuscript was presented at the 7th
Northeastern Evolutionary Psychology Society Conference,
May 30–June 2, 2013, Lebanon Valley College.
This paper conforms to the Ethical Standards of the American
Psychological Association. It was approved by the Institutional
Review Board at Bucknell University. Participants signed an
informed consent statement prior to taking part in the research.
Each author contributed writing and data analysis to this
manuscript/research. JM contributed data collection also.
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Frontiers in Psychology | 6May 2018 | Volume 9 | Article 632
fpsyg-09-00632 May 14, 2018 Time: 13:37 # 7
Wade and Mogilski Mate Expulsion
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Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors declare that the research was
conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could
be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
Copyright © 2018 Wade and Mogilski. This is an open-access article distributed
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author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication
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Frontiers in Psychology | 7May 2018 | Volume 9 | Article 632
... Jealousy occurs in response to a real or perceived relationship threat, which comprises various features of the physical and social environment that produce the perception that one's current romantic relationship may be unstable or at risk of dissolution. Putative cues of relationship threat include the 1 3 presence and quality of same-sex rivals (e.g., Dijkstra & Buunk, 2002;Pham et al., 2014), features of the romantic pair-bond (e.g., mate value or relationship satisfaction discrepancies; Salkicevic, Stanic, & Grabovac, 2014;Sela, Mogilski, Shackelford, Zeigler-Hill, & Fink, 2017;Sidelinger & Booth-Butterfield, 2007), imagined or recounted scenarios of a partner's extra-pair involvement (e.g., Buss, Larsen, Westen, & Semmelroth, 1992;Maner, Miller, Rouby, & Gailliot, 2009), and other indicators of a partner's emotional or sexual disengagement Wade & Mogilski, 2018). Perceptions of relationship threat enhance experiences of jealousy (Rydell, McConnell, & Bringle, 2004), are more distressing among committed and female partners (Cann & Baucom, 2004), and vary with an individual's sexual interest in their partner (Shackelford et al., 2002). ...
... Compared to men, women typically report greater distress toward potential loss of a partner's interpersonal support (i.e., extra-pair emotional involvement), whereas men typically report greater distress toward a partner's sexual contact with another person (i.e., extra-pair sexual involvement). These gender differences in jealousy toward a partner's extradyadic emotional versus sexual relationships have been demonstrated across cultures (Bendixen, Kennair, & Buss, 2015;Fernandez et al., 2015;Fernandez, Sierra, Zubeidat, & Vera-Villarroel, 2006;Zandbergen & Brown, 2015) using varied methodologies and measures (Edlund et al., 2006;Maner & Shackelford, 2008;Sagarin et al., 2012;Wade & Mogilski, 2018) and within heterosexual and non-heterosexual samples (Bailey, Gaulin, Agyei, & Gladue, 1994;de Souza, Verderane, Taira, & Otta, 2006;Sagarin, Becker, Guadagno, Nicastle, & Millevoi, 2003; but see Dijkstra et al., 2001;Frederick & Fales, 2016;Howard & Perilloux, 2017;Hughes, Harrison, & Gallup, 2004). Yet, to date, no one has examined these gender differences within consensually non-monogamous relationships. ...
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Evolutionary psychological research has studied romantic jealousy extensively within monogamous relationships, but has largely ignored jealousy among partners who mutually consent to forming extra-pair relationships (i.e., consensual non-monogamy; CNM). We examined monogamous (n = 529) and CNM (n = 159) individuals’ reactions to imagining their romantic partner(s)’s extra-pair involvement. For each romantic partner, men and women completed measures of relationship jealousy and reacted to scenarios of their partner’s extra-pair emotional and sexual involvement. Scenarios prompted participants to indicate which type of involvement would be more distressing and more enjoyable. They also described whether or not participants had consented to their partner’s extradyadic relationship. Monogamous men were more distressed by a partner’s extradyadic sexual versus emotional involvement (and a partner’s emotional involvement was more enjoyable) whether the scenario was consensual or not. Monogamous women were more distressed by a partner’s emotional versus sexual involvement (and a partner’s sexual involvement was more enjoyable) for consensual, but not non-consensual, scenarios. There were no gender differences among CNM participants. Monogamous individuals reported greater emotional distress toward a partner’s imagined extradyadic involvement, whereas CNM individuals reported thinking about their partner’s extra-pair relationships more frequently. Monogamous (vs. CNM) individuals reported greater confidence that their partner would never cheat on them (i.e., enter another relationship without their consent), and CNM participants were more confident that their primary versus secondary partner would never cheat, although this effect was stronger among CNM women. Moreover, CNM participants rated that it was more important that their primary versus secondary partner did not cheat, and reported greater distress imagining that their primary versus secondary partner had cheated. Women in CNM relationships rated it more important that their partner did not cheat sexually than emotionally. Finally, we replicated previous research showing that monogamous individuals mate guard more than CNM individuals, who mate guard their primary versus secondary partner more frequently. Future directions for developing evolutionary and romantic relationship research on CNM are discussed.
... To drive health care practice and future research there needs to be a better understanding of sexual function and associated psychosocial dimensions of women living with SCI to include women of all sexual orientations and racial identities. Since 2012, this research team has been examining sexual health and living with a disability (20,21,24,27,(39)(40)(41). We also believe it is important to understand the psychosocial dimensions of sexual health unique to women that include, but are not limited to, body image (42), cultural beliefs (religion, race, nationality) (43)(44)(45), and values (defining what is important sexually) (46). ...
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Women's sexual health within the context of sexual function and psychosocial dimensions while living with a spinal cord injury (SCI) has rarely been discussed separately from men living with a SCI or from a collective with other chronic conditions. To date, over 64,000 women in the U.S. are currently living with SCI, with total numbers increasing each year, as well as the demographics shifting to include more diversity in race and incidences occurring later in life. On average, SCI tends to be acquired during the childbearing years (~30–50 years old), as well as when women experience other health concerns associated with aging, including perimenopause and menopause. Additionally, women's sexual health is often conceptualized from the position of the absence of disease and dysfunction. However, consistent with definitions furthered by the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Association of Sexual Health (WAS), we believe women's sexual health is multifaceted, moving beyond a focus on reproduction to also encompass sexual function and the psychosocial dimensions of sexual health both living with and without disabling conditions and diseases. Within this lens, we present prior research that has been conducted, conclusions from these studies, implications for practice, and recommendations for future research. Thus, the paper will expand the understanding of both sexual function and psychosocial dimensions for women living with SCI.
... Given the risk of cuckoldry for men and partner abandonment for women, these differences in psychological design address the recurrent parental investment challenges that have been relatively more deleterious for men and women, respectively. These differences have been demonstrated across cultures (Bendixen et al., 2015;Fernandez et al., 2006Fernandez et al., , 2015Zandbergen and Brown, 2015) using diverse methodologies and measures (Dunn and Ward, 2019;Edlund et al., 2006;Maner and Shackelford, 2008;Sagarin et al., 2012;Wade and Mogilski, 2018) and within some non-heterosexual samples (Bailey et al., 1994;Sagarin et al., 2003;de Souza et al., 2006), though notable exceptions have been observed in nontraditional romantic relationships (see Dijkstra et al., 2001;Frederick and Fales, 2016;Howard and Perilloux, 2017;Mogilski et al., 2019). ...
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This chapter outlines how Robert Trivers’ Parental Investment Theory (PIT) has progressed from its original publication in Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man through its expansive application to research in the evolutionary psychological sciences. I begin with an abridged redux of the theory’s claims and predictions as they appeared within the original 1972 publication. After, I review groundbreaking research inspired by PIT and evaluate how well the theory has been empirically supported in the past 50 or so years. I then note several major theoretical advancements and address conflicts with other prominent theories of mating and parenting behavior. The chapter closes with several future directions that may help PIT remain a robust and relevant framework for studying human psychology within an increasingly technologically and socially complex world.
... Evidence suggests that in many nonindustrialized cultures (the !Kung San of the Kalahari and the Ache of Paraguay) breaking up was common in romantic relationships (Hill & Hurtado, 1996;Howell, 1976). This is not surprising, given the potential adaptive benefits of terminating untenable relationships (Wade, 2012;Wade & Mogilski, 2018). However, breaking up with a romantic partner also poses problems (Perilloux & Buss, 2008). ...
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Popular culture has recently publicized a seemingly new postbreakup behavior called breakup sex. While the media expresses the benefits of participating in breakup sex, there is no research to support these claimed benefits. The current research was designed to begin to better understand this postbreakup behavior. In the first study, we examined how past breakup sex experiences made the individuals feel and how people predict they would feel in the future ( n = 212). Results suggested that men are more likely than women to have felt better about themselves, while women tend to state they felt better about the relationship after breakup sex. The second study ( n = 585) investigated why men and women engage in breakup sex. Results revealed that most breakup sex appears to be motivated by three factors: relationship maintenance, hedonism, and ambivalence. Men tended to support hedonistic and ambivalent reasons for having breakup sex more often than women. The two studies revealed that breakup sex may be differentially motivated (and may have different psychological consequences) for men and women and may not be as beneficial as the media suggests.
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Prior research shows that patterns of mate selection, attraction, and expulsion are the product of evolved sex differences in computational adaptations. Within long-term romantic relationships, men typically prioritize information relevant to a mate’s reproductive (i.e., sexual) value whereas women more often prioritize a mate’s willingness to invest romantic (i.e., emotional) resources into a stable pair-bond. Although these differences in preference are well established within mate selection and relationship maintenance literature, relatively fewer studies have examined differences in how men and women reconcile after romantic conflict. Using an act nomination procedure, the present research tests the prediction that men and women differ by which partner reconciliation behaviors they evaluate as most effective in resolving a romantic conflict. In study 1, participants nominated common reconciliation behaviors which were subsequently sorted into 21 distinct actions. In study 2, participants rated each behavior by how effectively it would resolve conflict if performed by their romantic partner. Overall, acts suggesting emotional commitment were expected to be rated as most effective. Men were expected to rate actions which signal sexual accessibility as more effective compared to women. Women were expected to rate acts which signal emotional accessibility as more effective compared to men (study 2). Results were largely consistent with our predictions, though notable deviations are documented and discussed within the context of contemporary romantic relationship research.
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People employ mate retention behaviors in response to a perceived threat of partner infidelity, in both offline and online contexts. Previous research has documented sex differences in the use of several mate retention behaviors. In the current study, we investigate sex differences in the performance frequency of mate retention behaviors in an online context. Participants (n = 234, 56% male) were Facebook users 20 to 63 years old (M = 33.1; SD = 8.5), each in a committed, heterosexual, romantic relationship of at least three months. Participants completed the Facebook Mate Retention Tactic Inventory (FMRTI) and the Mate Retention Inventory – Short Form (MRI-SF), which assess performance frequencies of mate retention behaviors in online and offline contexts, respectively. The results indicate that women perform some online mate retention behaviors more frequently than men. Additionally, the results provided evidence of convergent validity for the FMRTI and the MRI-SF.
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Sexual dimorphism, symmetry, and coloration in human faces putatively signal information relevant to mate selection and reproduction. Although the independent contributions of these characteristics to judgments of attractiveness are well established, relatively few studies have examined whether individuals prioritize certain features over others. Here, participants (N = 542, 315 female) ranked six sets of facial photographs (3 male, 3 female) by their preference for starting long- and short-termromantic relationships with each person depicted. Composite-based digital transformations were applied such that each image set contained 11 different versions of the same identity. Each photograph in each image set had a unique combination of three traits: sexual dimorphism, symmetry, and color cues to health. Using conjoint analysis to evaluate participants’ ranking decisions, we found that participants prioritized cues to sexual dimorphism over symmetry and color cues to health. Sexual dimorphism was also found to be relatively more important for the evaluation of male faces than for female faces, whereas symmetry and color cues to health were relatively more important for the evaluation of female faces than for male faces. Symmetry and color cues to health were more important for long-term versus short-term evaluations for female faces, but not male faces. Analyses of utility estimates reveal that our data are consistent with research showing that preferences for facial masculinity and femininity in male and female faces vary according to relationship context. These findings are interpreted in the context of previous work examining the influence of these facial attributes on romantic partner perception.
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Psychologists have uncovered dozens of ways men and women differ in affect, behavior, and cognition. Social role theorists assume that men’s and women’s psychological differences solely result from sex role socialization processes and sociopolitical power differentials, and, as a consequence, social role theorists further assume psychological sex differences will be smaller in cultures with more egalitarian sex role socialization and greater sociopolitical gender equity. In this chapter, evidence is marshaled across 21 data sources that directly challenge this foundational assumption of social role theory. Empirically, sex differences in most psychological traits—in personality, sexuality, attitudes, emotions, behaviors, and cognitive abilities—are conspicuously larger in cultures with more egalitarian sex role socialization and greater sociopolitical gender equity. Even sex differences in many physical traits such as height, obesity, and blood pressure are larger in cultures with more egalitarian sex role socialization and greater sociopolitical gender equity. Three alternative evolutionary perspectives on psychological sex differences—obligate sex differences, facultatively mediated sex differences, and emergently-moderated sex differences—appear to better explain the universal and culturally-variable sex differences reliably observed across human cultures.
Two studies are presented that challenge the evidentiary basis for the existence of evolved sex differences in jealousy. In opposition to the evolutionary view. Study 1 demonstrated that a sex difference in jealousy resulting from sexual versus emotional infidelity is observed only when judgments are recorded using a forced-choice response format. On all other measures, no sex differences were found; both men and women reported greater jealousy in response to sexual infidelity. A second study revealed that the sex difference on the forced-choice measure disappeared under conditions of cognitive constraint. These findings suggest that the sex difference used to support the evolutionary view of jealousy (e.g., D. M. Buss, R. Larsen, D. Westen, & J. Semmelroth, 1992; D. M. Buss et al., 1999) likely represents a measurement artifact resulting from a format-induced effortful decision strategy and not an automatic, sex-specific response shaped by evolution.
Previous research has identified nonobvious, cognitive indexes of including other in the self (self-other overlap) that differentiate close from nonclose relationships. These indexes include a reaction time measure and a measure focusing on attributional perspective. This study demonstrated for the first time that these cognitive indices differentiated among romantic relationships of varying degrees of closeness, suggesting that self-other overlap is not an either-or phenomenon. Further, the degree of self-other overlap was associated with subjective feelings of closeness, but little if at all with amount and diversity of interaction, suggesting that cognitive self-other overlap is not a direct product of behavioral interaction. Finally, these indexes predicted relationship maintenance and other variables over 3 months and correlated with self-reports of love, suggesting a broad linkage of cognitive self-other overlap to other aspects of relational experience.