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The emotional cost of poor mating performance

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Abstract

Recent studies indicated that a considerable proportion of adult individuals experience poor mating performance: They face considerable difficulties in attracting and retaining mates. Using an evolutionary theoretical framework, we hypothesized that poor mating performance would be associated with more negative and fewer positive emotions as well as low life satisfaction. Evidence from an online sample of 735 participants provided strong support for this hypothesis. In particular, we found that individuals who indicated poor mating performance , experienced more negative emotions such as sadness and loneliness, and fewer positive emotions such as happiness and excitement, and they were less satisfied with their lives. On the other hand, those who indicated a good performance in mating, experienced more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions, and they were more satisfied with their lives. As indicated by the effect sizes, mating performance had a moderate to strong effect on positive and negative emotions and wellbeing. Also, consistent with the results of previous research, we found that about one in two participants faced difficulties in either starting or keeping an intimate relationship.

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... From an evolutionary perspective, the recurring problem of finding and securing a mate represents one of the most ultimate evolutionary goals, and as such, failure to satisfy such fundamental needs as mating and pair-bonding can be expected to have deleterious consequences for well-being, mental health, and social functioning (Baumeister & Leary, 1995;Kenrick et al., 2010). Indeed, Apostolou et al. (2019) found that people who indicated poor mating performance experienced more negative emotions such as sadness and loneliness, and fewer positive emotions such as happiness and excitement, and lower life satisfaction. Van De Velde et al. (2010) found that being single was a large risk factor for high levels of depression in men, and Brody (2010) found that psychological function was positively correlated (sometimes showing a causational relationship) with penile-vaginal intercourse. ...
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Incels (involuntary celibates) are a subculture community of men who build their identity around their perceived inability to form sexual or romantic relationships. To address the dearth of primary data collected from incels, this study compared a sample (n = 151) of self-identified male incels with similarly aged non-incel males (n = 378) across a range of measures related to mental well-being. We also examined the role of sociosexuality and tendency for interpersonal victimhood as potential moderators of incel status and its links with mental health. Compared to non-incels, incels were found to have a greater tendency for interpersonal victimhood, higher levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness, and lower levels of life satisfaction. As predicted, incels also scored higher on levels of sociosexual desire, but this did not appear to moderate the relationship between incel status and mental well-being. Tendency for interpersonal victimhood only moderated the relationship between incel self-identification and loneliness, yet not in the predicted manner. These novel findings are some of the earliest data based on primary responses from self-identified incels and suggest that incels represent a newly identified "at-risk" group to target for mental health interventions, possibly informed by evolutionary psychology. Potential applications of the findings for mental health professionals as well as directions for future research are discussed.
... Апостолу са сарадницима се у новије време највише бави проблемом ступања и одавања партнерске везе и даје објашњења из угла еволутивне психологије (Apostolou et al., 2018;Apostolou, Papadopoulou, Georgiadou, 2019;Apostolou, Shialos, Georgiadou, 2019;Apostolou & Wang, 2019;Apostolou & Wang, 2020). У прединдустријском друштву појединац је имао мању одговорност приликом бирања партнера, јер је и социјално окружење -родитељи, шира породица -активно учествовало у овом процесу (Apostolou & Wang, 2020). ...
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A successful partnership implies one's ability to attract and retain a partner. Readiness to forgive contributes to the renewal and improvement of broken relationships, while an attachment style plays an important role in the formation of internal 'working models' that serve as 'guidelines' for the formation of new relationships. The goal of this study was to investigate whether there is a connection between attachment and success in maintaining a partnership, and if so, whether that relationship is direct or mediated by the capacity to forgive. Based on the results obtained with the Mediation Analysis with Multiple Mediators, we found that insuffcient effort in the process of finding a partner is not directly associated with Avoidance, i.e., the negative working model of others; this connection is created indirectly through the strategy to avoid forgiveness. The sample used in this study is representative and included 387 participants, 82,7% of which were female participants between 18 and 40 years of age (AS = 23,90; SD = 4,22). The instruments used were the Mating Effort Scale (Apostolou et al., 2018), Partner Selectivity Scale (Apostolou et al., 2018), the Scale for Success in Finding a Partner (Apostolou et al., 2018), the Tendency to Forgive Scale (McCullough, Root, & Cohen, 2006), Affective Partner Attachment Scale (Brennan, Clark & Shaver, 1995). The results obtained indicate that insufficient effort in the process of finding a partner is not directly associated with Avoidance; this connection is created indirectly through the strategy to avoid forgiveness (ab=-,043, [-,077, -,017]). As for the connection between Effort and Anxiety, it is mediated by the Revenge dimension (ab = -,051, [-,080, -,026]). Forgiveness avoidance has been shown to be a statistically significant mediator in the relationship between Failure to Find a Partner and Avoidance (ab = -,029, [-,052, -,010]). All obtained mediations are partial. This research shows that success in maintaining a relationship, selectivity when looking for a partner and the effort invested to start and maintain a relationship are closely associated with a person's emotional development: his/her vision of him/ herself, vision of others and emotional capacity developed through life, such as the tendency to forgive. The findings of this research would be much more valuable if the research was conducted on both partners in a certain relationship and if the situation related to forgiveness was kept under control, which is a recommendation for other studies.
... We are unaware of empirical studies that have analyzed the relationship between these two variables, although it is consistent with the relationship reported in the literature. In greater detail, people with difficulty establishing affective relationships experienced more negative emotions such as sadness and loneliness and fewer positive emotions such as happiness and life satisfaction [50]. Therefore, lonely teenagers and young students may experience difficulty seeking academic help due to the emotional costs. ...
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Academic help seeking is a self-regulatory strategy that is closely related to students' school functioning and successful school outcomes. The aim of the present study is to gain greater insight into the associations between help-seeking behavior and attitudes (i.e., emotional costs, perception of benefits, threats and avoidance of academic help seeking), and socio-emotional factors (i.e., functional social support, satisfaction with life, happiness, academic and social self-concept, emotional loneliness and social network). Two hundred and thirty-two students from three public secondary schools (53.9% girls; mean age = 16.61, SD = 2.85) participated in this study by completing the assessment form during school hours. As expected, the results showed significant associations between attitudes toward academic help seeking and socioemotional factors except for (1) perceived emotional cost of academic help seeking and happiness, academic self-concept and social network, (2) threat of academic help seeking and satisfaction with life and social network and (3) avoidance of academic help seeking and social network, in which cases the correlations were not significant. Finally, (1) emotional loneliness was found to be a significant predictor of the perceived emotional cost of academic help seeking, (2) functional social support, academic self-concept, social self-concept and subjective evaluation of the social network were found to be significant predictors of the perceived benefits of academic help seeking, (3) emotional loneliness and academic self-concept were found to be significant predictors of both threat of academic help seeking and avoidance of academic help seeking. The results of this study suggest that psycho-emotional variables play an important role in academic help-seeking strategies and can affect students' final behavior in help seeking.
... Yet, as testified by the high rates of divorce (Cherlin, 2009;Raley & Bumpass, 2003;Schoen & Standish, 2001) and the high incidence of involuntary singlehood (Apostolou, Papadopoulou, & Georgiadou, 2019), keeping an intimate relationship is not always a smooth ride. For instance, recent studies have found that one in four adult people faced difficulties in keeping an intimate relationship (Apostolou, Paphiti, et al., 2019;Apostolou, Shialos, & Georgiadou, 2019). Accordingly, the current research aimed to examine the difficulties that people face in keeping their relationship in the Greek and in the Chinese cultural settings. ...
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Keeping an intimate relationship is challenging, and there are many factors causing strain. In the current research, we employed a sample of 1,403 participants from China and Greece who were in an intimate relationship, and we classified 78 difficulties in keeping an intimate relationship in 13 factors. Among the most common ones were clinginess, long work hours, and lack of personal time and space. Clinginess was reported as a more common source of relationship strain by women, while bad sex was reported as a more common source of relationship strain by men. Fading away enthusiasm, bad sex, infidelity and children were reported as more important by older participants, while lack of personal time and space, and character issues were reported as more important by younger participants. The factor structure was similar in the Greek and in the Chinese cultural contexts, but there were also differences. In addition, there were significant interactions between the sample and the sex. For instance, for the non-monogamous factor, men gave higher scores than women in both samples, but the difference was much more pronounced in the Greek sample.
... One study found that participants who indicated that they were not doing very well in starting and in keeping an intimate relationship, experienced more negative emotions and lower life satisfaction than those who indicated that they were doing well in these areas ( Apostolou et al. 2019). Yet, this research did not examine differences between involuntarily single and other categories of marital status. ...
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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.
... Such poor performance can be associated with negative feelings, such as anxiety, depression and loneliness (Apostolou, 2016b), which may in turn result in poor performance in other domains, such as work life. For instance, a recent study found that poor performance in mating was associated with negative feelings such as loneliness and lower life satisfaction (Apostolou, Shialos, & Georgiadou, 2019). ...
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The Diagnostic Interview Schedule was employed to ascertain the prevalence of major depressive disorder (MDD), alcohol and substance abuse in a sample of 424 college students aged 16 to 19 years. Applying DSM III criteria, the prevalence of MDD was 6.8 per cent; of alcohol abuse, 8.2 per cent; and of substance abuse 9.4 per cent. Alcohol abuse was associated with MDD, but not with other psychiatric diagnoses. Substance abuse was associated both with MDD and with other psychiatric diagnoses as well. The onset of MDD almost always preceded alcohol or substance abuse suggesting the possibility of self-medication as a factor in the development of alcohol or substance abuse.
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Major depression and alcohol problems are common in primary care, yet little is known about the prevalence of alcohol problems in patients with depression or alcohol's effect on depression outcomes. We strove to answer the following questions: How common are alcohol problems in patients with depression? Does alcohol affect the course of depression, response to antidepressant therapy, risk of suicide/death, social functioning and health care utilization? In which alcohol categories and treatment settings have patients with depression and alcohol problems been evaluated? English language studies from MEDLINE, PsychINFO, and Cochrane Controlled Trial Registry were reviewed. Studies were selected using predefined criteria if they reported on the prevalence or effects of alcohol problems in depression. Thirty-five studies met criteria and revealed a median prevalence of current or lifetime alcohol problems in depression of 16% (range 5-67%) and 30% (range 10-60%), respectively. This compares with 7% for current and 16-24% for lifetime alcohol problems in the general population. There is evidence that antidepressants improve depression outcomes in persons with alcohol dependence. Alcohol problems are associated with worse outcomes with respect to depression course, suicide/death risk, social functioning, and health care utilization. The majority of the studies, 34 of 35 (97%), evaluated alcohol abuse and dependence, and 25 of 35 (71%) were conducted in psychiatric inpatients. We conclude that alcohol problems are more common in depression than in the general population, are associated with adverse clinical and health care utilization outcomes, and that antidepressants can be effective in the presence of alcohol dependence. In addition, the literature focuses almost exclusively on patients with alcohol abuse or dependence in psychiatric inpatient settings, and excludes patients with less severe alcohol problems and primary care outpatient settings.
Fewer young people say I do to any relationship
  • Gallup
Gallup (2015). Fewer young people say I do to any relationship. Retrieved from http:// news.gallup.com/poll/183515/fewer-young-people-say-relationship.aspx.
Late marriage and low fertility in Singapore: The limits of policy
  • G Jones
Jones, G. (2012). Late marriage and low fertility in Singapore: The limits of policy. The Japanese Journal of Population, 10, 89-101.