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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2010 Jul;99(1):120-32. doi: 10.1037/a0018188.

The mating sociometer: a regulatory mechanism for mating aspirations.

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Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.


Two studies (Ns = 80 and 108) tested hypotheses derived from Kirkpatrick and Ellis's (2001) extension and application of sociometer theory to mating aspirations. Experiences of social rejection-acceptance by attractive opposite-sex confederates were experimentally manipulated, and the impact of these manipulations on self-esteem, mating aspirations, and friendship aspirations was assessed. Results indicated that social rejection-acceptance by members of the opposite sex altered mating aspirations; that the causal link between social rejection-acceptance and mating aspirations was mediated by changes in state self-esteem; and that the impact of social rejection-acceptance by members of opposite sex was specific to mating aspirations and did not generalize to levels of aspiration in approaching potential same-sex friendships. This research supports a conceptualization of a domain-specific mating sociometer, which functions to calibrate mating aspirations in response to experiences of romantic rejection and acceptance.

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