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Men want status from romantic relationships, research finds

May 10, 2013
Special to World Science  

Men dis­play more in­ter­est than wom­en in lean­ing on ro­mant­ic rela­t­ion­ships as a source of so­cial sta­tus, a newly pub­lished set of stud­ies sug­gests.

Tra­cy Kwang, a so­cial psy­chol­o­gist at the Uni­vers­ity of Tex­as at Aus­tin, and col­leagues con­ducted sur­veys to de­ter­mine wheth­er there are dif­fer­ences in the ways men and wom­en de­rive self-worth from rela­t­ion­ships. 

“Men and wom­en alike in­di­cat­ed that men are less re­li­ant on rela­t­ion­ships as a source of self-worth than are wom­en,” the re­search­ers wrote, re­port­ing their find­ings May 8 in the early on­line is­sue of the jour­nal Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence.

But “men re­ported bas­ing their self-es­teem on their own rela­t­ion­ship sta­tus (wheth­er or not they were in a rela­t­ion­ship) more than did wom­en, and this link was sta­tis­tic­ally me­di­at­ed by the per­ceived im­por­tance of rela­t­ion­ships as a source of so­cial stand­ing,” they added.

“When rela­t­ion­ship sta­tus was threat­ened, men dis­played in­creased so­cial-standing con­cerns, where­as wom­en dis­played in­creased in­ter­de­pend­ con­cerns,” they went on. “To­gether, these find­ings dem­on­strate that both men and wom­en rely on rela­t­ion­ships for self-worth, but that they de­rive self-es­teem from rela­t­ion­ships in dif­fer­ent ways.”

The jour­nal is a pub­lica­t­ion of the Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-based As­socia­t­ion for Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence.


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Men display more interest than women in leaning on romantic relationships as a source of social status, a newly published set of studies suggests. Tracy Kwang, a social psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, and colleagues conducted surveys to determine whether there are differences in the ways men and women derive self-worth from relationships. “Men and women alike indicated that men are less reliant on relationships as a source of self-worth than are women,” the researchers wrote, reporting their findings May 8 in the early online issue of the journal Psychological Science. But “men reported basing their self-esteem on their own relationship status (whether or not they were in a relationship) more than did women, and this link was statistically mediated by the perceived importance of relationships as a source of social standing,” they added. “When relationship status was threatened, men displayed increased social-standing concerns, whereas women displayed increased interdependence concerns,” they went on. “Together, these findings demonstrate that both men and women rely on relationships for self-worth, but that they derive self-esteem from relationships in different ways.” The journal is a publication of the Washington, D.C.-based Association for Psychological Science.