Can one ever be too wealthy or too chaste? Searching for nonlinearities in mate judgment

Douglas T. Kenrick, Jill M. Sundie, Lionel D. Nicastle, Gregory O. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


In 3 studies, the authors searched for nonlinearities as possible clues to context-sensitive mechanisms involved in mating decisions. Participants judged targets' sexual desirability, marital desirability, or social status on the basis of information about income or number of past sexual partners. Because one cannot know in advance where nonlinearities occur or measure all values of independent variables, a "zoom and focus" method was used. The authors began by sampling a wide range of values, followed by successively more focused examination of potentially interesting regions. Across studies, income and desirability were linked exponentially, particularly for male targets and marriage partners. Sexual partners and desirability were sometimes linked nonmonotonically, with more partners first increasing, then decreasing, desirability. The authors discuss how nonmonotonic functions may suggest competing underlying processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-471
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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