Relationship pursuit and sociosexuality in a time by investment model of mating strategies




Wilkey, Brian Mize

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Sociosexuality (Kinsey, Pomeroy, & Martin, 1948; Kinsey Pomeroy, Martin & Gebhard, 1951) indicates the extent to which individuals are willing to engage in sex outside of a committed relationship. Mating psychology consistently uses this construct to measure an individual’s pursuit of short-term mating strategies (Buss & Schmitt, 1993). However, some work conceptualizes short-term relationships as those marked by brevity (Jonason, Li, Webster, & Schmitt, 2008) and other work conceptualizes shortterm relationships as those marked by low amounts of investment in a partner (Gangestad & Simpson, 2000a). Though time and investment are undoubtedly related to one another, this work examines the effect of sociosexuality on mating pursuit by experimentally manipulating time and investment to predict three patterns of possible results: Exclusively short-term relationship pursuit, exclusively low investment relationship pursuit, or general/open relationship pursuit. Four studies measure individuals’ sociosexual orientation and ask participants to rate the future possibility of relationships (i.e., time orientation – short-term vs. longterm) and the resources committed to a relationship (i.e., investment orientation – low vs. high resource investment). Study 1 examines the association of sociosexuality, time, and investment for those currently in relationships and those considering previous relationships; as well, Study 1 examines sociosexuality’s association on different relationship centered variables such as satisfaction and commitment. In Studies 2 and 3, time and investment are experimentally manipulated to create relationship descriptions; participants’ sociosexual orientations are then used to predict the endorsement, incidence, and frequency of these relationship descriptions. Studies 2 and 3 also examine how the manipulation time and investment contribute to the evaluation and endorsement of the relationship descriptions. Finally, Study 4 uses self-report and behavioral measures to examine how sociosexuality relates to openness and flexibility of relationship pursuit using a confederate design. Results support the third, more general/open pattern of relationship pursuit. Results suggest that unrestricted individuals are more flexible and likely to pursue the most available mating strategy, rather than one marked by a specific amount of time or investment. Additionally, time and investment are found to contribute separately to the evaluation and endorsement of the relationship descriptions.


LCSH Subject Headings