The role of body-concept in selecting dating partners: Is there a self-verfication motive?


The present study explored whether college women have a preference for selecting dating partners who provide self-verifying versus self-enhancing feedback about their bodies. Research literature on self-evaluation has shown that people are motivated to both confirm their sense of self while also trying to enhance their self-concept. In recognition of these dual motives, the present study attempted to explore how these self-evaluation processes were influenced by body-concept considerations and variations in feedback from potential dating partners. A sample of 83 undergraduate women were given hypothetical feedback that varied in the degree to which evaluations of their bodies were either self-verifying, self-enhancing, or self-deprecating. Participants were asked to rate how much interest they had in pursuing both a short-term and long-term relationship with the dating partners who provided the feedback. The study also explored how interest in dating partners varied based on different types of feedback for three components of body esteem: sexual attractiveness, physical condition, and weight concern. Results of the study suggested that regardless of which dimension of the body was being evaluated, women generally preferred self-verifying and slightly-enhancing feedback about their bodies in both short-term and long-term relationships. This study also explored motives that may guide college women in selecting dating partners based on the feedback they receive about their bodies. In this regard, participants were asked to elaborate on their decision making process, and judges independently coded their responses to understand the motives behind their selections of dating partners. Results suggested that women who preferred self-verifying dating partners were most clearly motivated by the need for a reassurance of self-view and by the need to feel as if their partner is similar to them. Women who selected self-enhancing dating partners were found to be most clearly motivated by positivity strivings. The results of the study were discussed within the context of existing body-concept and self-evaluation literature

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This paper was published in epublications@Marquette.

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