Thursday, July 11, 2019

For women, having a child/children, higher scores on neuroticism, substance abuse predicted relationship formation; for men, age & openness were predictors

Demographics, Personality and Substance-Use Characteristics Associated with Forming Romantic Relationships. Eilin K Erevik et al. Evolutionary Psychological Science, July 11 2019.

Abstract: The current study aimed to identify demographic, personality and substance-use characteristics associated with forming romantic relationships. Data were collected by two online surveys among students in Bergen, Norway, during the autumn of 2015 (T1) and by a follow-up survey that was conducted 12 months later (T2). The current sample consists of the 2404 participants who reported being single at T1 (mean age 23.2) and who participated in both waves of the survey. Binary logistic regression analyses were conducted. Separate analyses were conducted for both sexes and for the entire sample of participants. High extroversion scores predicted relationship formation. For women, having a child/children, higher scores on neuroticism, alcohol use and illegal substance use positively predicted relationship formation, while for men, age and openness were positive predictors. The study contributes with several novel findings. In general, characteristics related to a need for support predicted romantic relationship formation among women, while characteristics associated with increased resource acquisition potential predicted relationship formation among men. The general pattern of findings is in line with established evolutionary theories such as the sexual strategies theory and the parental investment theory.

Keywords: Romantic relationships Students Personality Substance use Parental status Sex

Romantic relationships are typically considered as relatively long-term, mainly monogamous commitments between two individuals. Romantic relationships play a pivotal role in human societies and seem to be preferred over short-term mating (Lovejoy 1981; Waal 2006). Individuals in romantic relationships tend to be healthier and live longer than single individuals suggesting that pair-bonding may involve survival advantages (Averett et al. 2008; Kiecolt-Glaser and Newton 2001). Several evolutionary explanations have been suggested as to why humans commonly arrange intersex mating through monogamous romantic relationships. For one, monogamy may have reduced infanticide, as being close to the mother and offspring would enable the biological father to protect the offspring from infanticidal males (Opie et al. 2013). Monogamy may also have increased the offspring’s likelihood of survival in general, as having two caretakers would imply more resources and protection compared to having only one caretaker (Opie et al. 2013). Furthermore, monogamy may have been adaptive through reducing same-sex competition, hence fostering same-sex cooperation and increasing the likelihood of group survival (Desmond 1967; Waal and Gavrilets 2013). Finally, some evolutionary scholars have argued that monogamy may have evolved because food shortage forced women to live quite isolated from their group of origin (Lukas and Clutton-Brock 2013; Waal and Gavrilets 2013). This isolation of women would make a long-term mating strategy adaptive for men, as short-term and/or polygamic mating strategies would involve too much migration (Lukas and Clutton-Brock 2013). Evolutionary research on romantic relationships has traditionally centred on opposite-sex couples, but same-sex romantic relationships are suggested to entail survival and reproductive advantages as well (Kirkpatrick et al. 2000).

There are individual differences in the ability/tendency to engage in romantic relationships. Moreover, an increasing percentage of single and childless individuals in many Western and Asian societies have raised concern about the sustainability of social welfare systems (Adamczyk 2017; Nargund 2009). Knowledge of characteristics predicting relationship formation may be conducive if one wishes to understand the mechanisms promoting relationship formation and pregnancies. From an evolutionary perspective, one can expect factors such as demographics, personality and substance use to predict who forms romantic relationships (Buss 2007, 2009; Petraitis et al. 2014). Individual characteristics may affect the likelihood of forming a romantic relationship in three main ways. Firstly, individual characteristics relate to mate value, where potential mates perceive some characteristics (e.g. physical attractiveness) as compelling traits (Buss 2007). Secondly, individual characteristics may affect the individual’s motivation for different mating strategies (i.e. short-term versus long-term mating strategies) (Buss 2007). For instance, paternal absence during childhood has been found to predict short-term mating strategies (Draper and Harpending 1982). Finally, some individual characteristics, like humour, may make the individual better equipped to chase off same-sex competitors and consequently make the person more successful at securing a long-term mate (Buss 1989). Existing research has primarily investigated the mate value of different individual characteristics, while the associations between individual characteristics and actual relationship outcomes have received less attention.

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