Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The perception of lower mate availability was associated with decreased life satisfaction, but an oversupply of potential mates also made some uncomfortable (choice overload, especially of those who are good catches)

The Influence of Sex Ratio and Perception of Mate Availability on Psychological Health. Rosenbach, Naomi. Hofstra University, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2022. 28774896. Aug 2021. https://www.proquest.com/openview/0e611481cbc3dbe91211f359da573e0c/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750&diss=y

Abstract: Pair bonding, or long-term adult romantic relationship, was advantageous in ensuring offspring survival and adult protection in the evolutionary environment, thus humans have evolved with strong mating and pair bonding motivations (Belsky, 1999; Fraley, Brumbaugh & Marks, 2005; Fraley & Shaver, 2000). Because successes and failures in meeting adaptive goals is correlated with emotional and psychological health (Nesse, 2016; Plutchik, 2003), decreased or thwarted mating opportunity should theoretically impact wellbeing. Sex ratio refers to the number of males relative to females in a given population and significantly influences mating opportunity. When sex ratio is skewed, the oversupplied sex experiences a dearth in mating opportunity (Guttengang & Secord, 1983). The minimal research that has been conducted in this area suggests that population sex ratio and mating opportunity influence wellbeing (Tucker & Mitchel-Kernan, 1989) yet more research is necessary to gain a better understanding of the psychological impact of sex ratio.

This study examined whether population specific sex ratio and perceived mate availability influenced a variety of mental health outcomes and dating strategies in the young adult, single, population. The main sample consisted of 647 participants (332 male and 315 female) who responded to an online survey with items measuring depression, anxiety, positive and negative affect, life satisfaction, self-esteem and mating flexibility. Mate value, religious and cultural beliefs were assessed as moderating variables. Additionally, some mating and commitment strategies were explored. The hypotheses that young adults who live in an area with less mate availability or who simply perceive there to be an undersupply of available mates would have more negative psychological outcomes were partially supported. Perceived sex ratio and actual sex ratio differentially impacted males and females. For males, perception of lower mate availability was associated with decreased life satisfaction, decreased positive affect, and decreased choosiness in mating criteria. For females, an actual oversupply of females was associated with decreased life satisfaction. Mate value was found to moderate the relationship between perceived sex ratio and anxiety, depression, and negative affect for both males and females. For those low in mate value, decreased opposite sex availability was associated with an increase in anxiety, depression, and negative affect. This pattern reversed for those high in mate value, where perceived increased opposite sex availability was associated with increased depression, anxiety, and negative affect. This latter, unexpected finding suggests that there may be psychological costs for those both high and low in mate value when there is an imbalance in sex ratio. Additionally, perceived sex ratio impacted some dating commitment strategies. For example, those who perceived there to be a dearth of opposite sex availability reported that they would be more “willing to settle for a less than ideal mate out of desperation”. These findings suggest that skewed sex ratio not only impacts sociological constructs such as mating strategies and behaviors but can also impact psychological constructs and individual wellbeing. These findings can help those in the clinical and counseling field better understand how sex ratio and mate availability influence wellbeing. Given that mate acquisition is a significant life goal for young adults, clinicians working with that population should assess for beliefs surrounding mating opportunity.

Overall people share the widespread belief that women are less entitled to sexually pleasurable experiences than men in both casual and relationship contexts

The Role of Gendered Entitlement in Understanding Inequality in the Bedroom. Verena Klein, Terri D. Conley. Social Psychological and Personality Science, November 29, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1177/19485506211053564

Abstract: Five studies (using U.S. samples) examined whether men’s higher entitlement contributes to a sexual pleasure gap that disadvantages women. Participants indicated that men receive more sexual pleasure from their partners, whereas women provide more pleasure (Study 1a). Participants believed that men have more of a right to experience orgasm in both hook-up and relationship encounters and attributed higher negative affect to the male target than to the female target when the target did not experience an orgasm in a sexual scenario (Study 1b). In concert with the idea that pleasure is a privilege that men are perceived as being more entitled to, participants preferred men’s orgasm when forced to choose between the male and the female partner in an orgasm allocation task (Study 1c) and in an experiment (Study 2). Study 3 examined why people believe that men are more entitled to pleasure than women. Men’s higher sense of entitlement as an obstacle to gender equality in sexuality is discussed.

Keywords: entitlement, gender inequality, sexuality, gender differences, deservingness, fairness


Overall people share the widespread belief that women are less entitled to sexually pleasurable experiences than men in both casual and relationship contexts.

Childhood socioeconomic status positively related to dispositional greed (luxury hypothesis), instead of negatively related (scarcity hypothesis); relationship was found for only-children, not for children with siblings

Further tests of the scarcity and luxury hypotheses in dispositional greed: Evidence from two large-scale Dutch and American samples. Karlijn Hoyer, Marcel Zeelenberg & Seger M. Breugelmans. Current Psychology, Nov 25 2021. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12144-021-02467-z

Abstract: A recent, large-scale study among Chinese adolescents found that childhood socioeconomic status (CSES) was positively related to dispositional greed (i.e., the “luxury hypothesis”), instead of negatively related (i.e., the “scarcity hypothesis”; Liu et al., 2019c). This relationship was found for only-children, not for children with siblings. The generalizability of these findings may be limited, due to China’s one-child policy and socioeconomic policies which may have led to fewer differences in wealth. We replicated this research in two other cultural contexts that represent markedly different socioeconomic policies in order to test its generalizability: the Netherlands (Study 1, N = 2367, 51.3% female, Mage = 54.06, SD = 17.90), and the USA (Study 2, N = 999, 50.1% female, Mage = 33.44, SD = 12.28). Hierarchical multiple regressions were conducted to test the association between CSES and greed. We mostly replicated the findings by Liu et al. (2019c): CSES was positively related to greed in both studies (“luxury hypothesis”) and there was a moderating effect of siblings in Study 1, but not in Study 2. Implications for theories on greed as well as future research on the association between CSES and greed are discussed.

General Discussion

The aim of our research was to examine the relationship between the economic circumstances at childhood (i.e., growing up poor or wealthy) and adult dispositional greed. In a large study with Chines adolescents Liu et al. (2019c) found support for the Luxury hypothesis, the idea that growing up wealthy would be related to higher levels of dispositional greed in adults (based on initial findings of Poluektova et al., 2015, and Lea et al., 1995). Liu et al. did not find support for the competing Scarcity hypothesis, the idea that growing up poor would be related to higher levels of dispositional greed (based on initial findings by Krekels, 2015, and Chen, 2018). Liu et al. (Liu et al., 2019c, p. 38) stated that “It would be beneficial to test our model in other countries in which the number of children per family is generally more diversified.” Thus, we replicated the study in a large-scale, representative Dutch sample (i.e., the LISS panel). We further replicated the study in a large-scale U.S. American sample, via Prolific. Compared to the Chinese adolescent sample used by Liu et al. (2019c), both our samples had a larger variety in the number of siblings that people have and came from countries that have a longer history of capitalism, likely resulting in more pronounced differences in wealth experienced when growing up.

Replicating Liu et al. (2019c), we found support for the luxury hypothesis in both of our samples. That is, dispositional greed was positively associated with childhood socioeconomic status, implying that the more people reported growing up wealthy, the greedier they were as adults.

We found a moderating role of number of siblings on the relationship between CSES and greed in our Dutch sample in Study 1, replicating the second finding of Liu et al. (2019c), but we did not find this in the American sample of Study 2. More specifically, Study 1 found that the positive relationship between greed and CSES was stronger for children with few siblings than for children with more siblings. This suggests that when children grow up with a lot of resources and also do not need to share these with their siblings, they might become greedier later in life. This is in line with the resource dilution model, which postulates that the more children there are in a family, the more resources are divided among offspring (Blake, 1981). However, our data also heed caution to interpreting the relation between greed and family size: The relationship disappeared when analyzing only the younger generation, but the interaction effect was present for the older generation. This disappearance might be driven by the decrease in family size over the past decades in (Western) European societies. In the American sample in Study 2, the correlation between age and number of siblings was non-significant, and we also did not find a relation between greed and family size in the results of the regression analysis. This difference in findings concerning the role of family size in our Dutch and American samples might be related to a variety of factors. The USA and the Netherlands represent markedly different political systems and policies, and there are personality differences between both countries (Eigenhuis et al., 2015). We will not speculate here about what specifically might be causing the differences found in our studies, but leave it up to future research to delve more specifically into the role of the family make-up when growing up in affecting adult greed. Despite this precaution, we do believe that these results together shed initial light on the origins of greed and on the environmental factors that may contribute to the psychological development of greed.

Contrary to Liu et al. (2019c), our results from Study 1 were not robust to controlling for both gender age (but they were in Study 2). The relationship between greed and age does not seem to be a straightforward one. On the one hand, we did find greed to be negatively correlated with age in both studies, which is consistent with earlier studies on adults cited earlier. On the other hand, Liu et al. found a positive relationship between greed and age, r(3200) = .14, p < .001. Interestingly, this is consistent with earlier findings of Seuntjens et al. (2016), who also had adolescent participants, and found that age and dispositional greed correlated positively, r(3899) = .04, p < .05 These findings fit with a suggestion by Liu et al. (2019c) about an inverted U-shape relationship between greed and age, but our data cannot provide conclusive evidence for such a relationship. Ideally, a future, longitudinal study should investigate the underlying mechanism of differences in greed over the years.

Limitations and Future Research

The replication of the luxury hypothesis suggests two further questions for research into how childhood experiences are related to adult greed. First is the relationship between greed of parents and their children. Greedy parents might create an environment where greed is the norm. In addition, they might deliberately decide to have fewer children (so that they do not have to share their resources), leaving their children with fewer siblings. Second is the possibility for identification and intervention. Given that dispositional greed is likely to develop at an early age and is associated with various harmful and undesirable outcomes later in life (Liu et al., 2019a; Seuntjens et al., 201620152019; Zeelenberg et al., 2020), Liu et al. (2019b) made a case for a mindful parenting intervention to help adolescents to develop more positive core self-evaluations and reduce adolescent greed. They found that embracing mindful parenting enriches adolescents’ self-evaluations, which prevent them from becoming greedy.

In this article, we closely replicated Liu et al. (2019c) and hence, measured CSES with the commonly used scale of Griskevicius et al. (2011). Notably, in several studies subjective assessments of (C)SES were more predictive of decision-making, psychological functioning and health-related factors than more objective indicators (see for example, Adler et al., 2000; Singh-Manoux et al., 2005; Thompson et al., 2020), and empirical evidence has suggested that retrospective reports are accurate (see for example, Brewin et al., 1993; Hardt & Rutter, 2004). Nevertheless, a subjective retrospective scale, such as CSES, does not necessarily reflect the “objective” SES at time of childhood (e.g., the memories of childhood could be prone to change). Thus, it could be informative to follow Krekels (2015) and re-examine the link between greed and CSES using a more objective operationalization of CSES, such as, parental occupation, parental education, and parental income during childhood. Longitudinal studies could be used to investigate the development of the greedy disposition, and to overcome the limitations of retrospective measurements.

Despite the consistent results regarding the subjective CSES measure and dispositional greed that were found in this research and in Liu et al. (2019c), the relation between current SES and dispositional greed is less clear. CSES is often related to SES: Children from low-SES backgrounds are more likely to become low-SES adults, and vice versa (see for example, Chen & Miller, 2012; Brady & Matthews, 2002). Both Krekels (2015) and Seuntjens et al. (2015) found that dispositional greed was unrelated to current income. In the Study 2, we found a correlation between current SES and dispositional greed, but SES had no additional effect when Childhood-SES, number of siblings and their interaction were accounted for. Clearly, more research is needed here.