The Treatment of Relationship Status in Research on Dating and Mate Selection

Authors

  • Catherine A Surra,

    Corresponding author
    1. The University of Texas at Austin
      Department of Human Ecology, 1 University Station, A2700, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712 (surra@mail.utexas.edu).
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  • Tyfany M. J. Boettcher-Burke,

    1. The University of Texas at Austin
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  • Nathan R. Cottle,

    1. University of North Texas*
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    • *

      University of North Texas, PO Box 310829, Denton, TX 76203-0829.

  • Adam R. West,

    1. The University of Texas at Austin**
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      The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Human Ecology, 1 University Station, A2700, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712.

  • Christine R. Gray

    1. The University of Texas at Austin**
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      The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Human Ecology, 1 University Station, A2700, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712.


Department of Human Ecology, 1 University Station, A2700, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712 (surra@mail.utexas.edu).

Abstract

The relationship status of study participants (e.g., daters, cohabitors, marrieds, or unmarrieds) has implications for understanding dating and mate selection. Procedures used in studies may blur or ignore status distinctions. The authors examined methods used in 791 studies published from 1991 – 2001. Most commonly, status of participants is unspecified, and different statuses are collapsed for analysis. Status of participants is associated with recruitment method, and type (e.g., romantic, friendship) and form (e.g., perceived, current) of relationship measured. Unspecified samples are associated with research on the topics of universal properties or causal conditions, and specified samples with mate selection. The connection between status and topic is becoming more blurred over time. Recommendations for studying and reporting status are provided.

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