The article primarily emphasizes the importance of knowing your own mate value. Mate-value accuracy, defined as “knowing how much other people are interested in you as a mate,” plays a significant role in a person’s social life (Back, Penke, Schmukle, & Asendorpf, 2011, p. 984). People, who accurately estimate their value, minimize the risks of investing their efforts, money, and time in unsuitable mates, avoid exploitative relationships and know what to expect from potential partners in return (Back et al., 2011). In general, people use two main mating strategies – long-term mating tactics, when people stay in committed relationships, and short-term mating tactics that implicate efforts and high investments in multiple potential mates.
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According to cross-cultural observations, men prefer short-term mating tactics while women show a significant preference for long-term mating tactics (Back et al., 2011). This variability in strategies is substantially related to the traditional characteristics of men and women. Short-term tactics are characterized by uncommitted and unrestricted sexuality that relates to the personality characteristics of sociosexuality. Long-term mating is related to warm, affectionate, and trustworthy behavior, typical for the personality trait of agreeableness. The study of this article is correlational as, despite being the first attempt to describe “between- and within-sex differences in the accuracy of mate-value self-assessment,” it is conducted to test an existed hypothesis (Back et al., 2011, p. 986). The researchers investigate the ability of people to evaluate their own mate value more accurately if their characteristics are typical for their sex. In other words, men with unrestricted sociosexuality and women with high agreeableness evaluate themselves more correctly than less agreeable women and sexually restricted men.
Dependent and independent variables are used during the performance of a scientific experiment. The goal of an experiment is to measure and evaluate the dependent variable by the independent variable that is chosen, controlled, and changed by researchers. The change of the independent variable may affect the dependent one. In their experiment, Back et al. (2011) investigate the connection between the traditional characteristics of both sexes and mate-value accuracy through the speed-dating procedure. The independent variables of this experiment were the number, age, and social status of participants, the number and time of dating sessions, and the number of participants included in every session. The dependent variables are the self-descriptions of participants, their actual and expected choices that subsequently form mate-value accuracy.
The participants for speed-dating sessions were chosen randomly from the general population. There were 190 men and 192 women, all singles, at the ages from 18 to 54 with the motivation to find a partner for romantic or sexual relationships (Back et al., 2011). All participants got involved in 17 dating sessions with 17-27 women and men, unfamiliar with each other and of the same age, in each session. All dates lasted for 3 minutes and were conducted in booths with two opposing places to sit (Back et al., 2011). While women stayed in their booths, men were rotating until every woman got a chance to communicate with every man. If any pair had a mutual interest, later they were given contact information to meet again. Before the experiment, each participant completed an online questionnaire to identify personal sociosexuality and agreeableness. After every interaction during the speed-dating session, participants registered on a scorecard their wish to meet that person again and their estimation of whether that potential mate wanted to meet again.
According to the results of this experiment, men perform higher unrestricted sociosexuality than women, and women are more agreeable than men. The number of times when a person was actually chosen and the number of expectations did not differ among women and men. This experiment has confirmed the hypothesis that traditional within-sex characteristics of men and women affect the accuracy of their mate-value evaluation. Sexually unrestricted men and highly agreeable women are substantively accurate in the estimation of their own mate value. This research is highly significant for further investigations of mating behavior that may explain “the origins of sex differences in personality” (Back et al., 2011, p. 988). Further examinations may focus on the influence of individual characteristics of a person on his or her mate-value estimation.
This study of the interrelation between gender characteristics and the accuracy of the individual evaluation of personal mate value may be considered valid and reliable. A valid study is based on common knowledge and reasons, and that is why it can be accepted; a reliable study can be trusted as well. The study of Back et al. (2011) is correlational; it is based on the previous investigations and cultural observations of the connection between sociosexuality, agreeableness, long-term and short-term mating tactics with gender. The study is based on the social experiment conducted by the researchers; it involved ordinary people from the general population and with a similar background but of various ages in order to make the research more reliable. This article is supported by the authors’ previous works and the scientific researches of other peers, such as Bouchard, Cronbach, Hofmann, Kavanagh, Kirkpatrick, and others.
The authors employed appropriate ethical safeguards as the practice of speed-dating exists worldwide beyond the framework of this experiment. People currently use speed-dating to meet a considerable number of potential partners in a short period of time. During the experiment, the speed-dating procedure was conducted according to the rules and ethical standards, and it did not infringe on people’s rights. The questionnaire before the experiment and scorecards with the participants’ opinions concerning potential mates and their evaluations of opponents’ opinions about them were anonymous and essential exclusively for researchers to test their hypothesis.
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According to the researchers, future investigations of mate-value estimation may focus on how personality and individual characteristics influence mate-value accuracy. A follow-up study may be conducted in the same speed-dating paradigm with the same number of participants, however, it will focus on personal characteristics instead of common traits typical for a certain gender. For instance, before the experiment, people may answer specific questions to identify not sociosexuality or agreeableness but the traits of character traditionally independent of sex, such as kindness, sincerity, ambitiousness, greed, or irascibility. After each interaction, participants may use scorecards as well to register their opinions concerning mates. Based on the collected data, scholars may examine the correlation of expected mate value with actual mate value and the influence of individual characteristics on mate-value self-evaluation. The experiments to identify how a person’s appearance affects the accuracy of mate-value evaluation within specific age groups may be conducted as well.
From a personal perspective, the results presented in the article are slightly weaker than the authors claim. Despite the credibility and validity of this research, and the appropriately conducted experiment, the results of this study cannot be universally applied to social life. The mate-value accuracy and its evaluation are affected by various factors, such as public perception, the age of partners, and social background. For instance, society demands high agreeableness from women and criticizes their unrestricted sociosexuality. This public attitude, consciously or unconsciously accepted by women, may result in inaccurate answers to online questions before the speed-dating procedure. The wish of a significant number of women to hide their sociosexuality for a good public opinion may affect the results of this study.
The total number of men and women who participated in the experiment is appropriate in its framework to examine its results and make a scientific conclusion. However, this number is not enough to estimate the global significance of this research. The participants included in speed-dating sessions were of the same age; in other words, women and men who interacted with each other were contemporaries. This research does not include the investigation of mate-value accuracy based on the communication of age-diverse people as frequently presented in everyday life.
This research is based on previous cultural observations of the traditional characteristics of men and women. Men prefer short-term mating defined by the traditionally male characteristics of sociosexuality, while women show their commitment to long-term relationships due to their typically female trait of agreeableness. The authors of this article investigate the ability of people to evaluate their own mate value more accurately if they possess characteristics typical of their sex. The examination was conducted by the procedure of speed-dating when participants were communicated with each other and evaluated their own wish to meet potential mates again and other peoples’ wish to meet them as well. The results of this experiment proved the hypothesis as sexually unrestricted men, and highly agreeable women showed more accuracy in the estimation of their mate value than men with restricted sexuality and women with a lack of agreeableness.
Back, M. D., Penke, L., Schmukle, S. C., & Asendorpf, J. B. (2011). Knowing your own mate value: Sex-specific personality effects on the accuracy of expected mate choices. Psychological Science, 22(8), 984-989. Web.