The Mobile Dating Era: How Sexualized Images Affect Relationship Goals and Expectations

Soffer, Pamela [Browse]
Senior thesis
65 pages


Fiske, Susan [Browse]
Shelton, Nicole [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Psychology [Browse]
Class year
Summary note
Human mating is universal, but we still know little about the effects of using current online and mobile dating applications on perception and behavior. This study tested whether viewing a brief dating profile with a sexualized rather than nonsexualized photo, elicits a greater desire for short-term relationship qualities than long-term relationship qualities. 200 participants (71 men and 129 women), selected randomly from the Princeton University student body, completed an online survey in which they were randomly shown a sexualized or nonsexualized opposite-sex profile and asked to fill out a Relationship Expectations Inventory. As expected, women valued qualities related to friendship, partner prestige, and long-term relationships more than men, while men value qualities related to short-term relationships more than women. Further, men show a more drastic difference between conditions, such that when they are shown a sexualized profile as opposed to a nonsexualized profile, they tend to place more value on short-term qualities. When men are in the nonsexualized condition, they place significantly more value on long-term qualities. Implications for these sex differences and the changes in perception that occur when participants view a sexualized image in a hypothetical profile are discussed. Keywords: human mating, relationship expectations, long-term relationship, short-term relationship, sexualization, objectification, dehumanization, sexual strategies theory, social role theory, hostile sexism, benevolent sexism.

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