How social exclusion influences levels of aspiration in selecting potential mates : the mediating role of state self-esteem

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Theses / Dissertations
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Master of Science
University of Canterbury
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Robins, Sarah

There is considerable empirical evidence to support the notion that people with similar mate values end up together (Buss, 1985; Kenrick, Groth, Trost and Sadalla, 1993; Gilbert, Price and Allan, 1995; Kalick and Hamilton, 1986; Lalumiere, Seto and Quinsey, 1995). The goal of the present study was to examine how social inclusion and exclusion interacts with state self-esteem to predict levels of aspiration in choosing potential mates. The research tests predictions based on a recent evolutionary psychological theory of the function of self­ esteem. This theory conceptualises self-esteem as constituting a variety of specific information-processing systems that monitor successes and failures in distinct types of social relationships and then uses this comparative information to guide decision-making and behavioural strategies in these relationships (Kirkpatrick and Ellis, 2001). Leary, Tambor, Terdal and Downs (1995) posited that people have internal gauges that monitor their levels of acceptance and rejection from relevant others. This internal gauge has been defined as a 'sociometer', which monitors inclusionary status more or less continuously for cues that connote disapproval, rejection, or exclusion. The sociometer alerts the individual to changes in inclusionary status (particularly social acceptance), and motivates behaviour to restore inclusionary status when threatened. Kilpatrick and Ellis (2001) suggest that there is a mating-specific sociometer that tracks acceptance and rejection by the opposite sex. The current research tests the hypothesis that experiences of social exclusion will result in lowered aspiration levels in selecting mates, and that the relation will be mediated by lowered state self-esteem. The results were largely consistent with the research hypothesis: participants that were exposed to negative feedback from opposite-sex others did rate themselves as being more well matched to the lower socially attractive profiles, and mate aspiration levels could be partially accounted for by variations in state self-esteem. More research is needed to examine the link between mating strategies and other domains, i.e. same-sex peer aspirations levels.

Marginality, Social, Self-esteem, Level of aspiration, Mate selection
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