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Variation in women's mating strategies depicted in the works and words of Jane Austen

Publication Abstract

Kruger, Daniel J., Maryanne L. Fisher, Sarah L. Strout, Michelle Wehbe, Shelby Lewis, and Shana'e Clark. 2013. "Variation in women's mating strategies depicted in the works and words of Jane Austen." Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 7(3): 197-210.

We hypothesize that distinct mating strategies are identifiable in the female characters created by popular British author Jane Austen. Although Austen wrote her novels in the early 19th Century, and consequently the novels reflect social constraints not applicable to similarly aged women in modern Western societies, we contend that research participants can accurately identify the mating strategies of characters and express relationship preferences consistent with their own fitness interests. Austen's characterizations of women's mating strategies are remarkably similar to depictions in the modern literature of evolutionary psychology. We use personality descriptions of four primary characters assembled from passages in Austen's novels, Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park. When selecting characters with whom to form a hypothetical long-term romantic relationship, participants preferentially chose those who successfully established long-term relationships in the novels. Participants generally favored characters who exemplified short-term mating strategies, such as those who generally valued partners more so for the direct benefits they provided rather than emotional connection, for noncommitted sexual relationships. These results provide stronger empirical support of our hypotheses than earlier efforts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)

DOI:10.1037/h0099201 (Full Text)

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