Theses Doctoral

Aggressive mating strategies in young adolescent girls

Sichel, Kelly Lynn

Adolescence is the time when humans begin utilizing mating strategies (e.g., flirting, fighting or rumor spreading about competitors) to attract and keep mates. Consistent empirical evidence shows that some adolescent boys are on a developmental pathway in which they utilize aggression and risky behaviors in their mating strategies, but there is little research on adolescent girls' use of aggression and risk-taking in mating. This study hypothesized that ethnically diverse, young adolescent girls nominated consistently as flirters were also more likely to be nominated as aggressive and report higher levels of risk taking behaviors (e.g., drug use, delinquency) than girls not nominated as flirters. This study assessed mating effort via a new approach: peer-report of flirting behavior, which is dissimilar to previous studies that asked participants to report on their mating effort behaviors or report on peers who were not participants in the study. It is proposed that flirting behavior will increase yearly from 6th to 8th grade, coinciding with the start of puberty. It is also predicted that consistent flirters will endorse dating more frequently, as mating behavior and mate success are strongly linked in the literature. This study also investigated the relationship between attractiveness, which is an aspect of mate value, and mating effort. Researchers have found that mating effort and mate value increase one's mating success and they are positively correlated. Also, this study analyzed the relationship between adolescents' familial adversity and their mating effort as previous research found that familial adversity has a causal influence on teenage sexual risk taking behaviors, earlier start of puberty, and earlier sexual debut. Sixth graders in two large middle schools in a low income, ethnically diverse, northeastern school district were followed for three years for a larger longitudinal study. This study uses data from a subsample of 190 adolescent girls with complete data for 7th and 8th grades. Measures were administered in language arts or social studies classes during the fall of each year. Measures included a peer-report of flirtatiousness and aggressive behavior via the Revised Class Play (Masten, Morrison, & Pelligrini, 1985), self-report of dating frequency, and self-report of risk taking behaviors including substance and alcohol use (Winters, 1992) and delinquency (Elliot, Huizinga, & Ageton, 1985). Attractiveness was assessed via peer-report ratings of yearbook photos and self-reports of body image and appearance satisfaction (Cash, 2000). Adverse familial background was measured as self-report of psychological aggression from parents (Straus, Hamby, Finkelhor, Moore, & Runyan, 1998) and living arrangements in 6th grade.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
School Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Brassard, Marla Ruth
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 17, 2012