The Mating Sociometer: A Regulatory Mechanism for Mating Aspirations

Phillip S. Kavanagh, Sarah C. Robins, Bruce J. Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Two studies (Ns = 80 and 108) tested hypotheses derived from Kirkpatrick and Ellis's (2001) extension and application of sociometer theory to mating aspirations. Experiences of social rejection-acceptance by attractive opposite-sex confederates were experimentally manipulated, and the impact of these manipulations on self-esteem, mating aspirations, and friendship aspirations was assessed. Results indicated that social rejection-acceptance by members of the opposite sex altered mating aspirations; that the causal link between social rejection-acceptance and mating aspirations was mediated by changes in state self-esteem; and that the impact of social rejection-acceptance by members of opposite sex was specific to mating aspirations and did not generalize to levels of aspiration in approaching potential same-sex friendships. This research supports a conceptualization of a domain-specific mating sociometer, which functions to calibrate mating aspirations in response to experiences of romantic rejection and acceptance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-132
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • evolutionary psychology
  • mate choice
  • self-esteem
  • social rejection
  • sociometer theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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