Faculty Articles

Mate value of romantic partners predicts men’s partner-directed verbal insults

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Personality and Individual Differences



First Page




Last Page



To prevent a partner’s infidelity and defection from the relationship, men perform mate retention behaviors, sometimes inflicting costs on their partners. These cost-inflicting mate retention behaviors are considered high-risk because in addition to decreasing the likelihood of future infidelity, they also may increase the likelihood of future relationship defection. Although previous research has indicated that mate value (expected future reproduction; [Trivers, R.L. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In: B. Campbell (Ed.), Sexual selection and the descent of man, 1871-1971. Aldine, Chicago, pp. 136-179]) may be related to mate retention generally [Buss, D.M. (2003). The evolution of desire (rev. ed.). New York: Basic Books; Buss, D.M., & Shackelford, T.K. (1997). From vigilance to violence: Mate retention tactics in married couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 346-361], research has not addressed cost-inflicting mate retention behaviors specifically. The current research examines the relationship between men’s and women’s mate values and men’s use of partner-directed insults—a specific type of cost-inflicting mate retention behavior. One hundred fifty-eight women provided information about their own mate value, their partner’s mate value, and their partner’s verbal insults. The results indicate that although men’s and women’s mate values independently predict men’s partner-directed insults, men’s mate value is a better predictor than is women’s mate value. Women who report that their partners have lower mate value also report that their partners insult them more frequently than women who report that their partners have higher mate value.



This document is currently not available here.

Peer Reviewed

Find in your library