Term of Award

Spring 2001

Degree Name

Master's in Psychology

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

William D. McIntosh

Committee Member 1

Janice H. Kennedy

Committee Member 2

Paul R. Kleinginna

Committee Member 3

John D. Murray

Abstract

Previous research has shown that after exposure to images of highly attractive women, men rate their mates and average women as less attractive, and they rate their relationships less favorably (Dermer & Pyszczynski, 1978; Kenrick & Gutierres, 1989; Kenrick & Gutierres, 1980, Kenrick, Neuberg, Zierk, & Krones, 1994; Weaver, Masland, & Zillman, 1984). Women, in contrast, rate their relationships less favorably after being shown men high in dominance (Kenrick et al., 1994). It was proposed by Kenrick et al. (1994) that individuals decrease commitment to their partners to make themselves more available when they perceive availability of ideal mates. This study proposed to demonstrate that individuals prefer to continue their primary relationship and have relations with other partners simultaneously because this behavior is advantageous from an evolutionary perspective, particularly for individuals with an insecure attachment style. In accordance with Parental Investment Theory (Trivers, 1972), men were more likely than women to desire to get to know and have sexual relations with individuals other than their current partners. Individuals willing to review additional profiles reported a lower level of commitment to their current partners than those who did not report a desire to cheat. Contrary to hypotheses, men who agreed to browse additional profiles of available women did not report a lower level of commitment to their partners than women who agreed to view more profiles. Contrary to that suggested by Kenrick et al.(1994), men who viewed pictures of very attractive women did not rate themselves as less committed to their partners, and men exposed to pictures of average looking women were more likely to report a desire to view additional profiles of potential mates than men who viewed pictures of very attractive women. Finally, gender was the best overall predictor of desire to cheat, and adult attachment style appears to have less of an influence. Individuals with a preoccupied attachment style were less likely than those with secure and fearful attachments, but not dismissive attachments, to have sex outside their relationships. In addition, male secures, fearfuls, and dismissives were more likely to report a desire to have sex outside the relationship than male preoccupieds and women of all four attachment types.

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