The treatment of relationship status in research on dating and mate selection

Catherine A. Surra, Tyfany M.J. Boettcher-Burke, Nathan R. Cottle, Adam R. West, Christine R. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The relationship status of study participants (e.g., daters, cohabitors, marrieds, or unmarrieds) has implications for understanding dating and mate selection. Procedures used in studies may blur or ignore status distinctions. The authors examined methods used in 791 studies published from 1991 - 2001. Most commonly, status of participants is unspecified, and different statuses are collapsed for analysis. Status of participants is associated with recruitment method, and type (e.g., romantic, friendship) and form (e.g., perceived, current) of relationship measured. Unspecified samples are associated with research on the topics of universal properties or causal conditions, and specified samples with mate selection. The connection between status and topic is becoming more blurred over time. Recommendations for studying and reporting status are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-221
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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