Lars Penke and Jaap JA Denissen (2008)

Sex differences and life style-dependent shifts in the attunement of self-esteem to self-perceived mate value: Hints to an adaptive mechanism?

Journal of Research in Personality, 42:1123-1129.

It has been suggested that self-esteem is reactive to signs of social rejection, and that this ``sociometer'' mechanism becomes attuned to those personal attributes that affect social acceptance by significant others. Based on evolutionary models of human mating, we predicted that self-esteem should be more attuned to self-perceived mate value in men (when compared to women) who pursue short-term mating tactics, especially if they are unsuccessful therein. In a web-based study (N=2670), we found that mate value self-perceptions had a stronger effect on self-esteem on those who had less short-term mating success in the past. However, being in a committed relationship or parenthood reduced the impact of mate value self-perceptions. As expected, these effects were specific to men. These results are suggestive of a psychological mechanism based on adaptive sociometer attunements that could help men to choose their optimal mating tactic and might thus partly explain intrasexual differences in sociosexuality. (c) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.