ERIC Number: ED236470
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-May
Reference Count: 0
The Mating Gradient: Alive and Well on the College Campus.
Makosky, Vivian Parker; Sholley, Barbara K.
Traditionally, members of couples are similar in age, race, class, appearance and education. But within that common background, men tend to marry women slightly below themselves, a phenomenon known in sociology as the marriage gradient. To determine the extent to which students are comfortable with unequal relationships and traditional and untraditional equalities, 277 predominantly white, middle and upper middle class students (140 male, 137 female), between the ages of 18-23, completed an attitude questionnaire. Two hypothetical situations were presented in which a first spouse was older, taller, more intelligent and richer, and a second was younger, shorter, less intelligent, etc. Students rated their degree of comfort with each spouse on a Likert-type scale and then explained their rating. An analysis of the results showed that students were most comfortable with the traditional inequalities of the mating gradient. College men wanted women who were shorter and better looking than themselves; however, they wanted similarity in earnings, intelligence, age, and education. Women wanted spouses who earned more, were older, better educated, and taller. Exchange theory, social comparison, and role adjustment are possible explanations of why individuals hold to potentially detrimental traditional attitudes. (BL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association (55th, Chicago, IL, May 5-7, 1983).