Social inclusion facilitates interest in mating

Christina M. Brown, Steven G. Young, Donald F. Sacco, Michael J. Bernstein, Heather M. Claypool

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


According to a life history framework, variability across an organism's lifespan necessitates trade-offs between behaviors that promote survival and those that promote reproduction. Adopting this perspective, the current work investigates how social acceptance or rejection can influence the differential priority placed on mating and survival motivations. Because social acceptance is an important survival-related cue (i.e., group living provides protection from predators and sharing of resources), we predicted that recent experiences of social acceptance should increase people's motivation to mate. In support of this prediction, Study 1 found that participants who were included in an electronic ball-toss game showed more interest in mating (regardless of the potential mate's attractiveness) than excluded and control participants. In Study 2, participants who recalled an experience of social acceptance viewed sexual affiliation as more important than did participants in rejection and control conditions. Collectively, these results suggest an adaptive trade-off such that interest in mating increases upon satiation of affiliative needs. Furthermore, these findings demonstrate that the experience of social acceptance can have unique effects and should not be treated as the sole comparison condition when studying social rejection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-27
Number of pages17
JournalEvolutionary Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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