Men choose romance over success

August 28, 2007

Men may be more willing than women to sacrifice achievement goals for a romantic relationship, according to a new study by Catherine Mosher of Duke Medical Center and Sharon Danoff-Burg from the University of Albany. Their findings challenge our preconceptions that women are more likely to prioritize people and relationships while men are more focused on themselves and their achievements. Their paper will be published in the next issue of the Springer journal, Gender Issues.

The authors looked at whether personality traits influence students' life goals, and focused on the relative importance of romantic relationships and achievement goals in particular. A total of 237 undergraduate students (80 men and 157 women aged 16 to 25 years), from the psychology department at a state university in the northeast of the US, completed questionnaires measuring personality traits and life goals.

In particular, Mosher and Danoff-Burg looked at 'agency', or the focus on oneself and the formation of separations, including self-assertion, self-protection, and self-direction, as well as 'communion', or the focus on other people and relationships, which involves group participation, cooperation and formation of attachments. In general, women tend to score higher on measures of communion whereas men tend to score higher than women on measures of agency.

Life goals included seven achievement goals (physical fitness, travel, financial success, home ownership, contribution to society, career and education) and five different types of relationships (romantic, marriage, children, circle of friends and family ties). Participants' willingness to sacrifice achievement goals for a romantic relationship was also examined.

Overall both college men and women showed strong desires for individual achievement and relational intimacy. As expected, self-focus was linked to the importance of achieving, such as having a successful career. Focus on others was related to the importance of having meaningful relationships and making a contribution to society.

Unexpectedly however, men were more likely than women to give priority to a romantic relationship when asked to choose between a relationship and their career, education and traveling.

The authors suggest that college women in this study may have been strongly committed to working towards a successful career and therefore hesitant to abandon their goals for a romantic relationship. In contrast to women, men also appear to derive more emotional support from their opposite-sex relationships than their same-sex friendships.
-end-
Reference
1. Mosher C, Danoff-Burg S (2007). College Students' Life Priorities: The Influence of Gender and Gender-linked Personality Traits. Gender Issues, Vol. 24, No. 2. (DOI 10.1007/s12147-007-9002-z)

The full-text article is available as a pdf to journalists.

Springer

Related Relationships Articles from Brightsurf:

Gorilla relationships limited in large groups
Mountain gorillas that live in oversized groups may have to limit the number of strong social relationships they form, new research suggests.

Electronic surveillance in couple relationships
Impaired intimacy, satisfaction, and infidelity in a romantic relationship can fuel Interpersonal Electronic Surveillance (IES).

'Feeling obligated' can impact relationships during social distancing
In a time where many are practicing 'social distancing' from the outside world, people are relying on their immediate social circles more than usual.

We can make predictions about relationships - but is this necessary?
'Predictions as to the longevity of a relationship are definitely possible,' says Dr Christine Finn from the University of Jena.

Disruptions of salesperson-customer relationships. Is that always bad?
Implications from sales relationship disruptions are intricate and can be revitalizing.

Do open relationships really work?
Open relationships typically describe couples in which the partners have agreed on sexual activity with someone other than their primary romantic partner, while maintaining the couple bond.

The 7 types of sugar daddy relationships
University of Colorado Denver researcher looks inside 48 sugar daddy relationships to better understand the different types of dynamics, break down the typical stereotype(s) and better understand how these relationships work in the United States.

Positive relationships boost self-esteem, and vice versa
Does having close friends boost your self-esteem, or does having high self-esteem influence the quality of your friendships?

Strong family relationships may help with asthma outcomes for children
Positive family relationships might help youth to maintain good asthma management behaviors even in the face of difficult neighborhood conditions, according to a new Northwestern University study.

In romantic relationships, people do indeed have a 'type'
Researchers at the University of Toronto show that people do indeed have a 'type' when it comes to dating, and that despite best intentions to date outside that type -- for example, after a bad relationship -- some will gravitate to similar partners.

Read More: Relationships News and Relationships Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.