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Why did single women prefer taken men?

  • Value Theory

    Votes: 9 64.3%
  • Longing Theory

    Votes: 2 14.3%
  • Other Theory (please explain)

    Votes: 1 7.1%
  • I reject the results

    Votes: 2 14.3%
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Discussion Starter #1
In 2009, a scientific study appeared in the peer-reviewed Journal Of Experimental Social Psychology. Titled "Who's Chasing Whom?: The Impact Of Gender And Relationship Status On Mate Poaching". I present the study here to solicit PerC user's opinions about a key finding in the study's results.

Basically, the researchers (Jessica Parker and Melissa Burkley of Oklahoma State University) presented male and female students, both single and taken, with pictures of a fairly attractive man or woman, along with info about them claiming they had similar interests and were compatible. All males viewed the same picture of a female and all females viewed the same picture of a male. The participants were randomly told that the male or female in the picture was either "single" or "in a relationship". After this, the researchers asked the participants questions about how interested they were in pursuing the person whose picture they viewed.

The most dramatic difference occurs when comparing how the single women responded to a "single" man versus a "taken" man. "As predicted, single women were more interested in pursuing an attached target (M= .75, SD = .73) than a single target (M= .17, SD = .83), F(1,80) = 5.46, p= .02."

Who's Chasing Whom.jpg

So if the results of this experiment are credible, and I currently have no reason to doubt them, it makes me wonder: why did single women want the taken man so much more?

There are a couple of theories I have, along with a poll you can take so you can list which explanation is most plausible to you.

1. Value Theory. Being in a relationship is an indicator that you have enough value or merit to enter into a relationship in the first place, i.e. that someone finds you attractive enough to date. There's a common saying: "if you're such a wonderful catch, then why are you still single?" and it's very likely that some of the women viewing the "single" man's photo had this thought cross their mind, which influenced their desire to pursue him.

2. Longing Theory. The single women wanted the taken man more precisely because we often want what we can't have. Absence (i.e. unattainability) makes the heart grow fonder. "You're somebody's love, you'll never be mine."

Then again, there are two other possibilities.

3. It's because of a reason aside from these two reasons, one which I haven't thought of. If you believe this is the case, could you explain what your theory is?

4. The test results are just a coincidence, you don't believe them and single women probably have the same interest in single men that they do in taken men.

So PerC, how do you explain these results? Lemme know.
 

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Its hard for me to relate as I was never interested in pursuing someone I knew was not available.
I'm guessing its similar to not wanting something until someone else has it.

But, anecdotally, I've met PLENTY of men who didn't care that I was married when hitting on me. Some have gotten downright insulting towards my husband.
So who knows, really.
 

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I gave a vote to value theory. It seems the most plausible to me, but I have my uncertainties.

In real life, I've never wanted someone else's boyfriend, but he does seem a lot more likable as her partner than if he was single. He joins my society if he's the partner of my friend, and I see him in a much more positive light. If he says something weird, I let him off the hook. Maybe he becomes relevant to me, rather than a lone wolf. He's safe, and you know who he knows and who he hangs out with. You don't know anything about a lone wolf. He might be handsome, but he could be difficult to relate to. I can see the value theory applying here.

When I go have fun at salsa balls, I play in the middle of the dance floor to find a new dance partner because I don't want the strange guys who wander at the side of the room to ask me to dance. It's just awkward! They usually aren't very practiced or interesting to talk to, and they are too nervous to come snatch me away from the middle. My favorite partners come out of nowhere and steal me away, probably right after dancing with someone else! They just get out there, and they are very confident. With this example I can see a lot of social integration coming into play. The men integrated in the society, following and upholding the rules, are safer to women and have more success with them. The lone wolves aren't able to follow societal rules, which makes them dangerous. They can't integrate.

My uncertainty is in the study itself because these are just pics of random people and not a part of the person's friend group. I don't understand why the taken guy is still more valued! It's just a scenario, but that's weird...
 
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I wondered how old the participants were -- I scanned over the article, and I think they just said the participants were college undergrads. When I was younger, taken guys tended to seem more attractive than single ones (and no, I wasn't interested in pursuing them), I believe because of value expectancy theory in my case. It wasn't until after I interned a year in a place with mostly older people, of whom all were either married or in serious relationships, did it really sink in that taken people very much sh!t twice a day too :tongue:.


I'm not sure why some of the discrepancies shown in the figure were in there. I questioned the experiment when I didn't spot anything to do with the ages of the participants, tbh, as I thought that could definitely make a difference on people's attractions and who they may pursue. But yeah.
 

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Participants
Ninety undergraduate and graduate female students participated in this study at
Southwest University in China. They were recruited via an internet advertisement on the
campus BBS (bulletin board system); the BBS is our school鈥檚 campus forum. Fourteen
subjects were eliminated from analysis for certain reasons (e.g., homosexual or bisexual,
recognizing people in the photograph, or not serious during experiments), resulting in a
sample of valid data comprising 76 people. All participants were heterosexual, unmarried,
and between the ages of 18 and 25. Forty-three participants were single (mean age = 21.21,
SD = 1.70) whereas 33 of them were currently in a romantic relationship (mean age =
21.24, SD = 1.30). There was no significant difference in age between the single and
coupled women, t(74) = 0.09, p = .93. Each participant signed a written informed consent
before experiment and received 10RMB (approximately US $1.60) as compensation
afterward.
Four problems already:


  • This study was done in China, a different culture than western cultures.
  • Too narrow a sample size since its participants came from a single campus.
  • Only 76 participants which is too small a sample size.
  • Age range is too small to be considered a valid representation of 'single women'.

If this study evidences anything, barring sufficient information about the subjects, that the particular subset of women relied on other women to confirm or deny that the guys were worth dating.

The cultural aspect is extremely relevant for this study. Face dominates the collectivist Chinese culture. People are only worth what value others assign them. This isn't the same in western culture, particularly American and Canadian culture which emphasize individuality and self-worth.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Four problems already:


  • This study was done in China, a different culture than western cultures.
  • Too narrow a sample size since its participants came from a single campus.
  • Only 76 participants which is too small a sample size.
  • Age range is too small to be considered a valid representation of 'single women'.

If this study evidences anything, barring sufficient information about the subjects, that the particular subset of women relied on other women to confirm or deny that the guys were worth dating.

The cultural aspect is extremely relevant for this study. Face dominates the collectivist Chinese culture. People are only worth what value others assign them. This isn't the same in western culture, particularly American and Canadian culture which emphasize individuality and self-worth.
You're quoting an entirely different study than what I've posted.
 

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You're quoting an entirely different study than what I've posted.
You're right. Found it on researchgate and text was open. Weird.

Anyways, your study.

Method
Participants and design
The sample consisted of 184 undergraduates (97 women) from Oklahoma State University, with 46% of the sample identi铿乪d as single (35 women, 49 men) and 54% as attached (62 women, 38 men). Participation was for partial course credit. The study involved a 2 (gender: women versus men)2 (relationship status: single versus attached)2 (target: single versus attached) factorial design.
So, your study is even smaller, relative to 35 single women within a single campus, in a single conservative state college that has a very limited demographic of 68% whites, 63% in-state residences and between the same ages as my previously cited study. Single women preferring men in relationships or married, is a very conservative, gender role premised presumption aka conventional wisdumb. In the modern world, college educated women make their own money so they don't need to rely on men for financial support.
 

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The 'high-value' man can be snatched when he's single, so by ignoring single men you ensure you'll never find the next 'high-value' man. Let's say that hypothetically the taken man can be "poached" away... how valuable is he really then? He's just proven he can't be trusted. Then again, maybe the unconsciously strategy here is to 1) poach, 2) marry 3) have children. By this point, the male is so invested in the family that it'll be impossible for someone else to poach him away. Although he's probably the type of person to have an extramarital affair, however this doesn't affect the wife's evolutionary potential: her children are already born and being supported by the 'high-value' man.
 

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Taken males demonstrate selflessness - female-specimen(s) that are seeking (LTR) often seek selflessness. The idea is if the male specimen is selfless enough to invite a female-specimen within his domain, he is selfless enough to let offspring inhabit it, as well. Taken males are also (less masculine) - open to being feminized by a female-specimen within his life, which means more agreeable, adaptive, compromising. Female specimen(s) get along better within feminized environment(s), in spite popular belief, and have no interest in high-functioning masculinized competition. Not only is she able to compete evenly with her taken male - he is also adaptable (open to being feminized - and allowing femininity into his environment). A feminized male is generous, gynocentric, less hostile, somewhat chivalrous, more ambitious and express high levels of humility (&) are easy on the eyes. She know(s) the male is house-broken, or at least holds the capacity. A male motivated to find a female specimen to mate with is a male that will not stop until she is attained by all mean(s) necessary. The taken male demonstrates he is intimately ambitious.

Now, have a conversation with a male-specimen that has been single all the way up into his late 40's. Less compromising, hardened, less willing to adapt to a female-specimen - masculinized beyond repair, opposed to any feminizing of his environment, highly emotional (ex; reactionary), testosterone pent up, high disagreeablility rate, set and stone - pump and dump, a bit lazier outside of his own hobbies - and et al. You see similar pattens with single female-specimen(s) in their late ages.

The study is highlighting freshmeat straight off campus with Daddy potentialities; not old single men or old married males. She likes the type of man, not the person. Do not confuse the two.
 

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So PerC, how do you explain these results? Lemme know.
Makes sense, but mostly: some women talk about it openly and they know why they feel such attraction. Anyone can have diff reasons for something, even murderers could trow some weird results on studies depending on the group of person selected. Anyway yes as a man I've seen what you describe and it's been discussed here and other forums too.

First time I had this information shared to me, it was a woman, actually my GF at the time. She asked me not to treat her so nicely in front of other women because:

A. Many women want what "belongs" to another woman
B. You man are in relationship = means you relationship material
C. You there = real time demo of how (perhaps) you would treat me

I had this told to me in slightly diff ways/words over the years and also have seen how women can change their attitude once you are taken, you might be invisible and suddenly you are not invisible. I would add:

D. Plain curiosity (related to C, but different)


And I would also add "E" due to other groups of women (and men) behaving differently depending on age, and I mean more grown up people. And also involves direct comments from those people. That would be:

E. Enjoy, no hassle. Why? you on a relationship = we can enjoy some stuff, fast, right to the point, and chances of a relationship between us would be very, very low. This is the same reasoning some people give you on why being lovers (when someone is taken) is more fun, because from the 100% of a relationship you can have the 10% that is more fun, intense and practical, just meet, sex, go away, no complications.


I have a female friend who is also very much into human behavior and we usually discuss this, she is attractive, but men are more respectful in my area than women, more men tend to look and engage if single, only look and perhaps some inviting eye contact if with someone, but women... damn, many are very direct when we are together, even if they are also with someone... the difference we have seen is... wow, amazing.
 

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I don't know if I 100% buy this. But I am sometimes attracted to taken guys, and I would say that might be because I subconciously figure they're probably halfway decent if another woman has seen their potential. I don't know they're taken until after I hear about/meet the girlfriend, though. Before that point, I just notice they're pretty chill.
 

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3. neither 1 or 2.
Not sure how many others this is true for, I am speaking solely for myself who has been attracted to a handful of 鈥榯aken鈥 men, though often once I hear they are taken a switch goes off in my head and I find them less attractive. With one or two though it hasn鈥檛 mattered. The reason: I don鈥檛 have interest in having a relationship with them, I see them as a brother or cousin that I just want to talk with, play around with as friends, and talk with intellectually. Sex doesn鈥檛 even enter the picture in my mind and if it does I can easily push it aside. Maybe he can鈥檛 but I definitely can. Sex is not a huge player in my game ever.

I think one way in which many people are mistaken is that when they see a single woman, she either _must_ be looking for a relationship or is unhappy(are women still seen as so incapable really??!! Maybe it's unconscious but it's there).
It seems like the majority of people assume this due to the way society is set up, has been set up for many years: women historically become part of the man鈥檚 family more so thanstaying with her family once she marries. She essentially has become his property historically and she is supposed to give him sex when he wants it and do all the housework and childcare without expecting any compensation. Now if you鈥檙e unaware of seeing it all so bluntly, there are many subtle messages in our society that encourage pairing up. Not to mention you have an easier time buying a house, you get a break on taxes if you are a couple, it鈥檚 still quite common for men to do better in business, making more money and earning more promotions, as they are seen as the 鈥榖readwinner鈥 of the duo. Does any of this even come into consideration? These thoughts are always in my head and any guy, especially a married guy, seems a hell of a lot more like a burden than a blessing to live with.
 

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It seems unwise to assume that because someone is taken, they must be good. That's almost like looking at someone's Instagram photos and assuming their life is good. Case in point, any party involving family members. Your close relatives will be on their best behavior, laughing and putting aside their differences. Now go to one of their houses by yourself and you will find a lot more interpersonal frustration than you would be able to gather from the party.

I think value theory makes sense despite this. But the value doesn't have to be derived from the fact that they are taken. There are plenty of people who are attractive to you that you later find out are taken.
 

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But, how does a women know if the guy is taken or not? A lot of times I like a guy and then only after some time I find out he is taken. So, I don麓t agree with these theories.
 

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Simply put, women want what other women want. This is closest to value theory.

Having a girlfriend is a mark of status. Women are far more attracted to status than looks, unlike men. They want a guy who is capable of getting a girlfriend. If a guy has a girlfriend, he is capable of getting a girlfriend.
 

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There is something else. All the while the info has been describing value on the other person, well I mean assuming it. But there is the other side: your value.

Some people (unhealthy if you ask me) want what others have and try to take it, taking it and having it increases their own sense of value. Like "I can take anything you have, anything I want to", its a matter of power, many times it's not even about them wanting it, but the exercise of taking it.

In my region most men feel power or whatever getting women who are virgins and having sex with them, to many men this is empowering, "I did it, I was the first". I wouldn't mention this but I see a relation between the topic and that. Women in my region are the opposite, they find pride on being the last woman, they even say it openly: "I don't care about being #5, or #20, what matters is being the last one, the one they keep". I don't exactly find sense on any of both claims, but it is what it is to some people, and I mean their inner sense of value.


PS. If you ask me regarding that: what matters is a relationship where both are happy and both treat each other with respect, virgins or not, first or last, whatever.
 

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And... comparisons... we men do it differently, yes focused on how a woman treats someone, but yes to us it seems to be more visual, the body, the face, the looks, etc.


Women? My grandmother used to say BF and GF shouldn't go out so much with other couples, worse if they were married. Traveling? worse. Why? women tend to compare men, how men treat their wives. Two things can come out of those situations: (1) arguing, you don't treat me like that anymore, you don't kiss me in public etc (2) the woman suddenly wants the other guy.


Over the years I've seen the negative effects of couples going out with other couples, grandma was right in so many cases.
 

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The men integrated in the society, following and upholding the rules, are safer to women and have more success with them. The lone wolves aren't able to follow societal rules, which makes them dangerous. They can't integrate.
This is probably true in that women are generally programmed for safety, but I guess not everyone feels about or views that (safety) in the same way. I usually tend to fall for the more free spirited or lone wolf types because I feel more that way myself.

Taken men in whatever sense actually almost physically repulse me in a sexual and romantic sense. I don't want to be swallowed in someone else's world, and that likelihood increases when there's existing baggage like that. Safety to me is feeling safe to express myself within a unique vibe or something (safe to remain an individual), in feeling that I'm not going to have to adhere to a bunch of pre-existing expectations either. Being on the fringes of society to a degree with a partner is almost ideal to me if I go the partnered route. Having that sense of your own little reality. lol.

So yea, I think it really just depends on how the person sees it all (what is and isn't potentially dangerous), and what they value. Someone's ability to integrate with someone else or a group doesn't guarantee it with me personally as part of a couple creating a new lifestyle. It may even contribute to assumptions and what not that make genuine connection and communication more difficult. A less secure sense of loyalty at it's worst. (Though I guess this would also be an issue if there were especially selfish behavior as well. Needs to be a balance I suppose. I don't necessarily equate free spirited with selfish tho. Depends).

Sorry, I realize this was likely a sort of general statement, just thought I'd piggyback with thoughts. lol.
 
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