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PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN

Clark et al. / STRATEGIC BEHAVIORS

Strategic Behaviors in Romantic Relationship Initiation


Catherine L. Clark Public Health Institute Phillip R. Shaver University of California, Davis Matthew F. Abrahams Ariba Technologies Two studies were conducted to examine the strategies used to initiate romantic relationships. In Study 1, participants responded to questions about general romantic relationship initiation strategies derived from the literature. In Study 2, participants wrote narrative accounts of their romantic relationship initiation experiences, which were coded for relationship goals and initiation strategies. The effect of biological sex on the evaluation and use of relationship initiation strategies was assessed in both studies. Overall, the normative pattern of goals and strategies prominently included love and intimacy goals and direct and emotional-disclosure strategies. Men tended to be more active and direct in the beginning stages of relational development and to be more interested than women in the goal of sexual intimacy; women used passive and indirect strategies more often than men. Results are discussed in terms of Buss and Schmitts sexual strategies theory and Reis and Shavers model of interpersonal intimacy. One fruitful way to study the process of relationship initiation and development is to identify the strategies that people use (e.g., Dindia & Baxter, 1987; Shea & Pearson, 1986; Tolhuizen, 1989). Seibold, Cantrill, and Meyers (1994) have proposed that the examination of strategies is profitable because strategies reflect actors choices, intentions, plans, and actual behaviors in the pursuit of specific goals. There is a growing body of research on the strategies used to attain sexual intimacy (e.g., Buss & Schmitt, 1993; Christopher & Frandsen, 1990; Greer & Buss, 1994; McCormick, 1979; Perper & Weis, 1987; Tooke & Camire, 1991). Evolutionary psychologists (e.g., Buss, 1994; Ellis, 1992) have argued that human males and females faced different evolutionary opportunities and constraints in attaining reproductive success and that their predominant mating strategies are attempts to overcome the constraints. Over evolutionary time, males have been constrained in their access to fertile females (because pregnancy and nursing occupy females for several years and females are motivated to reserve sexual access to males with adequate resources) and females have been constrained in their access to resources controlled by males (Buss, 1989). Psychological mechanisms have evolved in each sex to overcome the constraints
Authors Note: We would like to thank Linda Acredolo, Jody Bartholomew, Robert Bell, Robert Emmons, Molly Estabrook, Chris Fraley, Amy Gray, Lilah Raynor Koski, Danean MacAndrew, Toni Minoletti, Erin Moore, Ryan Pickett, Chuck Schafer, Niels Waller, and Gerald Whitehawk for all of their contributions to this project. Address correspondence to Catherine L. Clark, 2000 Hearst Avenue, Suite 300, Berkeley, CA 94709; e-mail: cclark@arg.org. PSPB, Vol. 25 No. 6, June 1999 709-722 1999 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.

esearch on romantic relationships has focused mainly on relationship maintenance and dissolution, largely neglecting the initiation of such relationships. As Berscheid and Graziano (1979) have argued, however, studying relationship initiation is important because we often cannot understand the nature and course of a developing relationship without knowing the circumstances under which two people originally became acquainted and involved with each other. In particular, individuals seem to form expectations about relationship partners in early interaction episodes, and these expectations then influence subsequent attentional and attributional processes, as well as behavior, throughout the relationship (Snyder, Berscheid, & Glick, 1985). 709

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PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN used to pursue sexual intimacy. In Reis and Shavers (1988) model of interpersonal intimacy, for example, direct communicative behaviors and the disclosure of personal information are the main vehicles for increasing intimacy. Thus, whereas Greer and Buss (1994) found that strategies such as getting the target drunk were rated more favorably than strategies involving the disclosure of personal information in the promotion of a sexual encounter, personal disclosure may be an appropriate and proficient strategy in the initiation of a more complete, long-term romantic relationship based, at least in part, on emotional intimacy. The first goal of the present project was to identify behaviors used in romantic relationship initiation and to evaluate perceptions of those behaviors. How do young adults view the various direct and indirect strategies mentioned in the scientific literature? Do their use and evaluation of each strategy seem to be in line with a search for emotional intimacy, sexual gratification, or both?
GENDER

posed by the other sex. Because males need fertile and maternally competent females, preferably ones who will be sexually faithful, females have evolved strategies to make themselves appear young, healthy, and inviting. Because females are motivated to hold out for males with resources, males have evolved strategies to demonstrate, and sometimes exaggerate, their resources, including strength, power, and wealth (Buss, 1994). Greer and Buss (1994) examined the particular strategies that males and females use to promote a sexual encounter. Using the act-nomination procedure (Buss & Craik, 1983), they delineated 122 individual acts used to promote sexual encounters and combined them conceptually into 34 homogeneous clusters. They found that females do in fact present themselves as young and healthy, reporting that they enhance their physical attractiveness and dress seductively more frequently than males. Males do display resources more frequently than women, giving gifts and showing their physical strength. In addition, males reported using other tactics more frequently than females, such as getting the target drunk, going to a private or secluded area, indicating the sexual attractiveness of the target, complimenting appearance, verbalizing desire for sexual contact, and dancing or dancing closer. Buss and Schmitt (1993) have acknowledged that people do not always seek sexual relationships in the same ways. They argue that members of both sexes use strategies that can be classified as either short term or long term. Short-term sexual strategies are those in which immediate reproductive access is sought to enhance reproductive fitness. In general, short-term strategies (e.g., having sex with someone who may not be a good or committed parent) are associated with quantity, rather than quality, of offspring. Long-term sexual strategies are typically enacted when potential mates are evaluated for their commitment to an enduring relationship for the purpose of providing long-term, quality parenting. Buss and Schmitt found that when males and females pursue long-term sexual strategies, displays of kindness and love are equally important for members of both sexes. Buss and Schmitt (1993) proceed as if sex were the only reasonor the obviously primary reasonto seek a romantic relationship. But there is considerable evidence to suggest that emotional as well as sexual intimacy plays an important role in relationship stability (for review, see Aron & Aron, 1994; Reis & Shaver, 1988) and it may well be that people specifically seek emotional intimacy in their romantic relationships, either in addition to or in preference to sex per se (Miller & Fishkin, 1997; Zeifman & Hazan, 1997). Moreover, the strategies used to pursue emotional intimacy may differ from those

Apart from differences in interpersonal relationships due to biological sex (male vs. female), researchers have argued that gender differences (psychological differences between males and females due to socialization or learning experiences) play an important role (see Brehm, 1992, for a review). One of the most pervasive findings in the literature is that mens verbal communication is often more direct or overt than womens (e.g., Berger & Bell, 1988; Greer & Buss, 1994; Smythe, 1991; Tolhuizen, 1989). That is, men are more willing (e.g., Green & Sandos, 1983) and more likely to initiate relationships than women, often by verbally requesting dates (e.g., Berger, 1987, 1988; Kelley & RolkerDolinsky, 1987). In addition, male initiators are perceived more positively than female initiators (e.g., Green & Sandos, 1983). Existing research does not focus, however, on the goals or strategies used or favored by men and women. Thus, a second goal of the current project was to examine biological sex and gender differences in the pursuit of relationship goals and evaluations of strategy use. A measure of sex-role orientation (psychological masculinity and femininity) was included in one of our studies to explore possible differences between this indicator of psychological gender and biological sex (male vs. female) in determining relationship goals and initiation strategies.
OVERVIEW

The present studies were designed to identify behaviors used in relationship initiation and to assess evaluations of those behaviors by young adults. These studies extend research on sexual strategies by examining the

Clark et al. / STRATEGIC BEHAVIORS formation of emotionally intimate romantic relationships that may involve more than sexual intimacy. In addition, we examined male-female differences in the use and perception of relationship initiation strategies. In Study 1, participants were asked to rate possible relationship initiation strategies on a number of dimensions frequently cited in the literature, including effectiveness, appropriateness, openness, riskiness, and phoniness (Abrahams, 1994; Simpson, Gangestad, & Biek, 1993). Ratings of each strategy were then examined statistically as a function of sex (male vs. female). In Study 2, a narrative methodology was used to explore relationship initiation goals and strategies more deeply and to examine their associations with both biological sex (male vs. female) and gender (sex-role orientation). Although both studies were intended to be preliminary probes of the relationship-initiation domain rather than tests of particular theories, the questions that guided our work were informed by Busss sexual strategies theory and Reis and Shavers model of interpersonal intimacy, as well as recent critiques of sexual strategies theory (Miller & Fishkin, 1997; Zeifman & Hazan, 1997).
STUDY 1 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

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In exchange for their participation, participants received extra credit in their introductory courses in psychology or rhetoric and communication. Participants ranged in age from 17 to 28 years (M = 20.34) and came from the full range of ethnic groups represented in the University of California student body, predominantly Caucasian, Asian, and Hispanic. Because of the many ethnic and acculturation differences within these broad categories, we decided not to attempt to analyze the data in terms of ethnicity.
PROCEDURE AND MEASURES

The main purpose of Study 1 was to explore participants reactions to a wide variety of romantic relationship initiation strategies mentioned in past research (e.g., Berger, 1988; Berger & Bell, 1988; Berger & Kellerman, 1994; Cupach & Metts, 1991; Derlega, Winstead, Wong, & Hunter, 1985; Givens, 1978; Glick, 1985; Greer & Buss, 1994), which, to our knowledge, have never been combined in a single study. We especially wanted to determine how participants rate such strategies as emotional disclosure and display of resourcesthe different kinds of strategies emphasized by the model of interpersonal intimacy and sexual strategies theory, respectively. We also wanted to see whether, as suggested by research on gender and communication patterns (e.g., Smythe, 1991), men initiate more romantic relationships than do women and rate direct strategies more positively than do women. Such differences, if they exist, are obviously important to the study of romantic relationships, even though it is not possible in most cases to know whether they should be attributed to biological sex, sex-role norms, or both. Method
SAMPLE

Participants were 118 male and 183 female undergraduate students, an ideal sample given that dating and romantic relationship initiation are integral components of the social lives of young adults (Berger, 1988).

Participants were tested in groups of 5 to 130. They were first asked general questions about their past behaviors in initiating romantic relationships. They were asked to report how successful they had been in initiating romantic relationships on a 9-point Likert-type scale anchored at 1 (very unsuccessful) and 9 (very successful). They also were asked to indicate the percentage of their romantic relationships that they had initiated and the total number of relationships that they had been involved in over the past 4 years, excluding one-night stands. In a second set of questions, participants were told to Imagine that you are romantically unattached and you are romantically attracted to an available person who might also be attracted to you. (Notice that the terms romantically unattached and romantically attracted to do not specifically mention either sexual or emotional intimacy.) With this potential partner in mind, participants were asked to indicate the likelihood that they would (a) initiate a romantic relationship with this person, (b) rely on the potential partner to initiate a romantic relationship, and (c) rely on a third party to assist in the initiation process. These ratings were made on 9-point Likert-type scales anchored at 1 (very unlikely) and 9 (very likely). Participants were then asked to imagine that they had decided to initiate a romantic relationship with this person and to indicate how confident they would feel, how nervous they would feel, how likely they would be to manipulate the setting, and how direct they would be. These ratings also were made on 9-point Likerttype scales, the high ends of which indicated high confidence, high feelings of nervousness, high likelihood of manipulating the situation, or highly direct initiation bids. Participants also were asked to indicate how motivated they would be in initiating a romantic relationship with this person, how appropriate it would be to initiate a romantic relationship with this person, and how concerned they would be about the risk of an unsuccessful romantic relationship initiation attempt with this person. Again, these ratings were made on 9-point Likert-type scales whose high ends indicated high levels of motivation, appropriateness, or concern.

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TABLE 1: Mean Ratings (and standard deviations) by Men and Women of a Particular Available Partner, Study 1 Sex Scale Likelihood of initiating Rely on partner Rely on third party Confident Nervous Manipulate setting Direct Motivated Appropriate Concerned Men ( N = 122) 6.37 (2.15) 4.64 (2.35) 3.57 (2.26) 5.94 (2.03) 6.50 (2.13) 6.39 (2.08) 6.14 (1.85) 6.94 (1.83) 6.24 (2.08) 5.53 (2.58) Women ( N = 185) 5.41 (2.26) 6.34 (2.25) 3.49 (2.46) 5.27 (2.14) 6.79 (2.05) 5.38 (2.24) 4.99 (2.05) 6.18 (2.04) 5.65 (2.23) 6.18 (2.32) F(1, 302) 11.86** 36.90*** .02 7.26* 1.41 14.66*** 26.37*** 9.93** 4.82* 5.17*

In the third portion of the questionnaire, participants were presented with eight major strategy categories and asked to evaluate them on several dimensions. Using 39 theoretically derived relationship tactics described in the literature (e.g., Berger, 1988; Berger & Bell, 1988; Berger & Kellerman, 1994; Cupach & Metts, 1991; Derlega et al., 1985; Givens, 1978; Glick, 1985; Greer & Buss, 1994), we sorted the tactics into conceptually homogeneous clusters (Greer & Buss, 1994). We completed our sorts independently and resolved our disagreements through discussion. The following eight strategy categories, with tactic examples for each, were presented to participants in random order: (a) becoming emotionally involved (revealing personal information), (b) directly initiating a relationship (making physical contact, directly asking a potential partner to start a relationship), (c) signaling indirectly (hinting, talking generally about romance), (d) manipulating the situation (making the setting romantic, maintaining close physical contact), (e) joking (teasing, playfully insulting), (f) demonstrating resources (gift-giving, showing off possessions), (g) using third parties to initiate a relationship (getting friends or family members to assist), and (h) acting passively (waiting for the other person to make the first move). For each strategy, participants were asked to rate the following: (a) its effectiveness, (b) the frequency with which the participants used the strategy, (c) the clarity of the strategy in communicating the goal of initiating a romantic relationship, (d) the riskiness of the strategy, (e) the extent to which the strategy revealed romantic feelings, (f) the extent to which the strategy was inviting, (g) the level of comfort participants felt in performing the strategy, (h) the extent to which the strategy was controlling/dominating, (i) the intensity of the strategy, (j) the extent to which the strategy was flirtatious, (k) the phoniness of the strategy, and (l) the extent to which the strategy was restrained/inhibited (Abrahams, 1994; Simpson et al., 1993). These ratings were all made on 9-point Likert-type scales, with the high ends indicating high effectiveness, high frequency of use, and so forth. To reduce the strategy ratings to a more manageable set of variables, a principal components factor analysis with varimax rotation was conducted on the 13 strategy ratings within each of the eight strategy categories (Tidwell, Reis, & Shaver, 1996). In all eight factor analyses, the effectiveness rating and the inviting rating loaded together and thus were grouped under the composite label proficient. The frequency, appropriate, and comfort ratings all loaded together and were grouped and labeled agreeable. The risky, intense, and controlling ratings loaded together and were grouped and labeled potent. The clear and revealing ratings loaded together and were grouped and labeled open. The single items, flirtatious, phony, and inhibited,

*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.

did not load reliably on any one factor and were retained as individual items. Factor-based scales were created by summing scores on the items that loaded above .30 on a particular factor. Results
GENERAL INITIATING BEHAVIORS

Participants were first asked to indicate how successful they were in initiating romantic relationships. Participants overall mean was 5.35 (SD = 2.04) on a 9-point scale, indicating that they thought they were fairly successful overall. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), using biological sex as the independent variable and the success rating as the dependent variable, revealed that men (M = 5.39, SD = 2.06) and women (M = 5.29, SD = 2.04) perceived themselves as equally successful in initiating relationships, F(1, 300) = .17, ns. Participants were next asked to report the number of romantic partners they had had during the last 4 years. The mean for all participants was 2.61 partners (SD = 2.51). There was not a significant male-female difference in the number of romantic partners (M = 2.82, SD = 3.15 for men; M = 2.40, SD = 1.98 for women), F(1, 305) = .97, ns. Participants also were asked to estimate the percentage of relationships they had initiated. The mean for all participants was 5.31 on a 10-point scale (SD = 3.04), which translates to about 50%. As expected, based on previous studies, men (M = 6.67, SD = 2.92) reported ini-

Clark et al. / STRATEGIC BEHAVIORS


TABLE 2: Results of Paired t Tests Comparing the Seven Factored Strategy Ratings for the Eight Strategy Categories, Study 1 Strategy Rating Strategy Emotion Direct Indirect Manipulate setting Joking Resources Third party Passive Proficient 13.27a (3.33) 12.78ab (3.81) 11.76b (2.71) 11.96ab (3.29) 8.94c (4.18) 7.57cd (4.19) 8.53c (4.10) 6.40d (4.28) Agreeable 18.76a (5.70) 13.12c (6.57) 16.04b (4.35) 16.68ab (5.59) 15.25bc (6.83) 9.93d (6.23) 11.59d (5.72) 16.32abc (6.13) Potent 16.61b (4.74) 21.56a (4.64) 14.33c (4.16) 15.68bc (4.72) 12.08d (5.21) 14.30cd (5.36) 12.99c (5.13) 8.13e (5.61) Open 13.53b (3.59) 15.75a (3.26) 11.76c (3.13) 11.97bc (3.30) 7.58d (3.79) 8.04d (4.08) 8.80d (4.35) 5.16e (4.03) Flirtatious 4.61c (2.22) 7.45a (2.13) 6.03b (1.58) 6.36b (1.96) 5.87b (2.50) 4.99c (2.52) 3.63d (2.24) 2.55e (2.25) Phony/Fake 2.75f (1.98) 3.35e (2.25) 4.09d (1.78) 4.47cd (2.23) 5.32b (2.45) 6.62a (2.66) 4.90bc (2.29) 3.80de (2.51) Inhibited 3.88d (2.08) 3.23e (2.48) 4.51c (1.60) 4.62c (1.84) 4.70c (2.21) 4.27cd (2.23) 5.57b (2.20) 6.47a (2.80)

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NOTE: Different subscripts within each column indicate significantly different means at p < .0002, two-tailed. Numbers in boldface type indicate highest scores within a column; underlined numbers indicate the lowest scores within a column. Standard deviations are shown in parentheses.

tiating more romantic relationships than did women (M = 4.39, SD = 2.76), F(1, 297) = 46.23, p < .001, and the complementary figures for the two sexes (equivalent, roughly, to a 60:40 male-female split) suggest that the answers were fairly accurate, on average.
EXPECTED FEELINGS AND INITIATING BEHAVIORS OF AN IMAGINED INITIATION WITH A REAL POTENTIAL PARTNER

Women were more likely to report relying on their imagined partner to initiate the relationship and were more likely to be concerned about the risk of an unsuccessful initiation attempt.
EVALUATIONS OF THE EIGHT STRATEGY CATEGORIES

In the second portion of the questionnaire, participants were asked to imagine initiating a relationship with an actual available person (i.e., a specific acquaintance) and to report their likely feelings and behaviors in initiating a relationship with this specific person. To control for Type 1 error, a MANOVA was conducted using all of the ratings as dependent variables: likelihood of initiating, likelihood of relying on the potential partner to initiate, likelihood of relying on a third party, expected level of confidence in initiating, expected level of nervousness, likelihood of manipulating the setting, expected level of directness, expected level of motivation, perceived appropriateness, and expected level of concern about the risk of an unsuccessful relationship bid. Sex (male vs. female) served as the independent variable. The results revealed a significant effect of sex, Wilkss (10, 293) = .81, p < .001. As can be seen in Table 1, men were more likely to initiate a relationship with their imagined partner, more confident, more likely to report manipulating the setting, more likely to report expecting to use direct tactics to initiate a relationship, and more motivated to initiate a romantic relationship; they also thought it more appropriate to initiate a relationship with their imagined partner than did women.

Paired t tests were conducted on each of the seven strategy factor ratings (e.g., proficient, agreeable) to discriminate among the eight strategy categories presented. As can be seen in Table 2, scanning down each column, each pair of strategies was compared on a particular rating factor. For example, in the first column, each pair of strategies was compared in terms of rated proficiency. To control for Type 1 error, the Bonferroni correction procedure was used (dividing the cut-off alpha level by the number of tests run) and the subsequent alpha level was set at .0002, two-tailed. The emotional disclosure, direct, and manipulating the setting strategies were rated as the most proficient; the demonstrating resources and passive strategies were rated as the least proficient. The most agreeable strategies were emotional disclosure, manipulating the setting, and passive, whereas demonstrating resources and third-party strategies were least frequently judged as agreeable. The direct strategy was deemed the most potent, open, flirtatious, and uninhibited; the passive strategy was deemed the least potent, open, flirtatious, and inhibited. Demonstrating resources was believed to be the most fake/phony strategy, which may help to explain its perceived lack of proficiency. Emotional disclosure was perceived to be the least fake/phony. The passive strategy was the most inhibited; the direct strategy was the least inhibited.

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TABLE 3: Mean Ratings (and standard deviations) by Men and Women for the Direct, Indirect, and Passive Strategies, Study 1 Sex Scale Direct strategy Proficient Agreeable Potent Open Flirtatious Fake Inhibited Indirect strategy Proficient Agreeable Potent Open Flirtatious Fake Inhibited Passive strategy Proficient Agreeable Potent Open Flirtatious Fake Inhibited Men ( N = 122) Women ( N = 185) F(1, 302)

The factored strategy ratings also were used as dependent variables in a series of MANOVAs with sex (male vs. female) as the independent variable. Direct strategy. There was an overall sex difference in ratings of the direct strategy, Wilkss (7, 287) = .93, p < .01. Men found the direct strategy more agreeable than did women. Women, on the other hand, rated the direct strategy as more open than did men. Indirect strategy. There was an overall sex effect for the indirect strategy, Wilkss (7, 296) = .94, p < .05. Women scored higher on the flirtatious rating than did men, whereas men found the indirect strategy more proficient than did women. Passive strategy. There was an overall sex effect on the ratings of the passive strategy, Wilkss (7, 287) = .90, p < .001. Women scored higher than did men on the agreeable and inhibited scales. Means, standard deviations, and univariate tests of the scales for the direct, indirect, and passive strategies are shown in Table 3. There were no significant sex effects for emotional disclosure, manipulating the setting, joking, demonstrating resources, or using third parties; results for these variables are therefore not presented in the tables.
CORRELATIONS BETWEEN INITIATION VARIABLES AND SUCCESS OF PAST INITIATION ATTEMPTS

12.55 (3.66) 14.36 (6.13) 21.33 (4.32) 15.26 (3.38) 7.19 (2.17) 3.48 (2.28) 3.49 (2.53) 13.89 (4.19) 16.24 (4.45) 11.34 (2.91) 11.36 (2.71) 5.66 (1.77) 4.19 (1.78) 4.64 (1.49) 6.33 (4.12) 14.41 (5.83) 8.38 (5.72) 5.14 (3.86) 2.81 (2.30) 3.86 (2.57) 6.03 (2.97)

12.91 (3.92) 12.28 (6.72) 21.66 (4.83) 16.07 (3.15) 7.55 (2.17) 3.21 (2.26) 3.03 (2.45) 12.02 (2.69) 15.94 (4.29) 14.59 (4.11) 12.03 (3.23) 6.17 (1.52) 3.96 (1.78) 4.40 (1.68) 6.46 (4.39) 17.59 (6.00) 7.98 (5.56) 5.19 (4.15) 2.38 (2.21) 3.74 (2.54) 6.73 (2.70)

.56 6.46* .47 5.05* 2.20 1.61 2.64 4.78* .35 1.99 3.70 7.29* 1.44 1.65 .14 19.71*** .36 .00 2.89 .26 5.16*

*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.

Ratings associated with initiating a romantic relationship with a particular partner were fairly strongly correlated with (a) past successful initiation attempts and (b) percentage of relationships initiated. Ratings of past success at initiating romantic relationships correlated with reporting a high likelihood of initiating a relationship (r = .46, p < .001), being motivated to initiate a relationship (r = .27, p < .001), feeling confident (r = .59, p < .001), not feeling nervous (r = .21, p < .001), and being direct (r = .33, p < .001). Also notable are the patterns of correlations between the success and percentage variables and the ratings for the eight strategy categories. There were numerous positive correlations between the success rating and the rated agreeableness of the emotional disclosure (r = .22, p < .001), direct (r = .36, p < .001), indirect (r = .22, p < .001), manipulating the setting (r = .27, p < .001), and demonstrating resources (r = .11, p < .05) strategies. In contrast, there was a strong negative correlation between the success rating and the reported agreeableness of the passive strategy (r = .24, p < .001). Summary The results of Study 1 indicate that various romantic relationship initiation strategies are evaluated differently from each other. The emotional disclosure and

direct strategies were believed to be potent, proficient, agreeable, and open. In contrast, the passive strategy, although viewed as one of the most agreeable (common, appropriate, comfortable) strategies to perform, was also perceived to be the least proficient, least potent, and least open. Its negative correlation with past initiation success suggests that study participants were correct in judging it to be not generally proficient. The results also revealed that the evaluation of romantic relationship initiation strategies depends on sex and/or gender. Sex differences were present both in general orientations toward relationship initiation and in imagined interactions with a specific potential partner. Women reported taking a less direct approach to relationship initiation than did men. Women were less direct, less motivated, and less likely to initiate a relationship with a particular available partner than were men. These findings fit well with the general literature on gender differences in communication and also coincide with the evolutionary perspective, according to which females are heavily invested in each reproductive act and must be more discriminating than males about the quality of their partners. Thus, females may take a more tentative approach to relationship initiation, making sure to

Clark et al. / STRATEGIC BEHAVIORS evaluate prospective mates carefully. The fact that the findings are compatible with both the intimacy model and sexual strategies theory suggests that most college students are looking for both emotional and sexual intimacy, the combination of goals that Buss and Schmitt (1993) associate with long-term rather than short-term mating strategies. Finally, the numerous correlations between past success in initiating relationships and the use of various relationship initiation strategies suggest that relatively successful people have a broad array of relationship initiation tools from which to draw in initiating romantic relationships and can choose a potentially successful strategy depending on the particular partner and situation.
STUDY 2

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quite successfully in understanding the motivations underlying sexual masochism (Baumeister, 1988) and in developing a model of the grieving process (e.g., Weber, 1992). In Study 2, participants were asked to recount their two most recent successful romantic relationship initiation episodes, and the resulting narratives were coded to ascertain, via analytic induction methods (e.g., Bulmer, 1979; Holsti, 1968), the goals and strategies that organize romantic relationship initiation. Biological sex and sex-role orientation . Mens and womens perceptions of initiation strategies were found in Study 1 to differ substantially, especially in the extent to which direct strategies were evaluated as agreeable. Several researchers have argued that gender differences in relationship initiation patterns are not the result of biological differences between men and women but are instead explained by sex roles (e.g., Buhrke & Fuqua, 1987; McCormick, 1979; Smythe, 1991). That is, psychological masculinity and femininity, usually viewed as results of sex-role socialization, have been shown to be more powerful predictors than biological sex of the use of direct and indirect communication acts. By assessing sex-role orientation in Study 2, we were able to begin teasing apart effects due to sex-role orientation and those due to biological sex. The potential power of sexual strategies theory (Buss & Schmitt, 1993) would be enhanced if the association between biological sex and relationship initiation goals and strategies proved not to be mediated by sex-role orientation.
OBJECTIVES AND PREDICTIONS

Although Study 1 illuminated some of the factors involved in romantic relationship initiation, several questions remained. Most important, the strategies examined in Study 1 were largely a priori (derived from theoretically driven proposals in the literature) and may not accurately reflect the strategies actually used in romantic relationship initiation. It is not known why some initial encounters evolve into stable relationships and why others do not. Identifying the behaviors actually used in relationship initiation would add to our understanding of the initiation process. In addition, it is unclear how peoples romantic relationship strategies compare with their relationship goals. In interpreting the results of Study 1, we had to infer the goals motivating participants strategy choices. In Study 2, we used a narrative methodology to determine what strategies young adults say they use in romantic relationship initiation and what goals they pursue. Researchers have used narrative techniques to study a variety of psychological phenomena, including anger (Baumeister, Stillwell, & Wotman, 1990), abuse (Clark, Shaver, Estabrook, & Pickett, 1995), self-defining memories (Singer & Salovey, 1993), newlywed experiences (Veroff, Sutherland, Chadiha, & Ortega, 1993), unrequited love (Baumeister & Wotman, 1992), and close relationship loss (Weber, 1992). Narrative methodologies allow for the examination of a complex process because participants can describe their step-by-step actions and reveal their corresponding thoughts and feelings. Although retrospective narratives are not completely objective accounts, they do identify events in peoples lives and expose at least some of the motivational and attributional processes underlying peoples behavior. Most important, narratives can be used to assess the meanings that people associate with their experiences (e.g., Baumeister et al., 1990; Harvey, Agostinelli, & Weber, 1989). Narrative methodology has been used

The main objective of Study 2 was to explore romantic relationship initiation using a narrative methodology. The roles of biological sex and sex-role orientation in relationship goals and initiation strategies also were examined. Three hypotheses guided the data analyses. First, we expected that in Study 2 the normative pattern of relationship initiation would include the use of direct and emotional disclosure strategies, as implied by Study 1. We also thought, based on the general pattern of findings in Study 1, that most participants would indicate that they were seeking emotional intimacy, rather than sexual intimacy, as the major goal in initiating romantic relationships. Second, we expected that biological sex (male vs. female) would influence strategy use, as found in Study 1. In line with both evolutionary and sex-role theories, we expected men to use more direct, overt communication in initiating relationships, given womens greater parental investment and increased scrutiny of potential mates. Third, in accordance with the literature on sex-role orientation and communicative behavior, we expected that the use of direct strategies would be positively related to masculinity and negatively related to

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TABLE 4: Interrater Agreement, Study 2 Percentage Agreement Range Strategies Talk in person Touch Ask directly Talk on the phone Passive Flirt Manipulate setting Present self well Nonverbal Gift-give Act interested Indirect Joke Game-play Dress up Goals Love Sexual intimacy Fun Learn Impress Resources Mean

femininity. If this third hypothesis was supported, we planned to determine the relative contributions of biological sex and psychological masculinity and femininity to predicting the use of particular relationship initiation strategies. Method
SAMPLE

Participants were 177 male and 153 female undergraduates who received extra credit in their introductory courses in psychology, sociology, and rhetoric and communication. Participants ranged in age from 16 to 29 years (M = 20.41) and once again were ethnically heterogeneous.
PROCEDURE AND MEASURES

Participants were tested in groups of 5 to 60. They were each given a packet containing the narrative protocol and the sex-role orientation measure as described below. Narrative protocol. Participants were asked to describe in writing, in detail, the initiation episodes of their two most recent, successful (at least temporarily successful) romantic relationships. Participants also were asked to indicate what goals, if any, they were pursuing in the initiation of their romantic relationships. Narrative coding. Coders were five undergraduate students who were naive to the studys hypotheses. A minimum of two coders evaluated each coded variable to establish sufficient interrater reliability. Coders were subjected to extensive training that terminated when interrater agreement reached 70% or higher. Discrepancies were conferenced. Codes. Using analytic induction techniques (Bulmer, 1979; Holsti, 1968), we identified 19 strategies/behaviors that participants reported using in their relationship initiation experiences: (a) talking in person (e.g., We stayed up all night talking about really personal things), (b) spending time together (e.g., We hung out a lot), (c) using third parties to initiate a relationship (e.g., We were introduced by her best friend), (d) touching (e.g., hand-holding, kissing, having sex), (e) asking directly (e.g., asking out on a date, asking other to be boyfriend/girlfriend), (f) talking on the phone (e.g., We talked on the phone for 4 hours), (g) flirting (e.g., We flirted at school), (h) being passive (e.g., I did nothing, he did all of the work), (i) manipulating the setting (e.g., making the situation romantic, visiting unexpectedly at work), (j) acting interested (e.g., showing interest, being attentive), (k) describing the relationship as just happening, (l) presenting the self well (e.g., I was

83-88 74-98 76-87 85-95 66-93 94-100 80-88 91-100 86-93 91-95 64-95 90-96 94-98 96-100 98-100 79-91 91-100 93-100 95-100 98-100 97-100

86 87 84 91 82 96 86 95 91 94 82 93 97 98 99 83 98 95 96 99 99

charming), (m) nonverbal communication (e.g., She gave me the look), (n) gift-giving (e.g., flowers, cards, cookies), (o) using drugs and alcohol (e.g., We were really drunk), (p) acting indirectly (e.g., hinting), (q) joking and teasing, (r) game-playing (e.g., I tried to make him jealous), and (s) dressing up (e.g., putting on special clothes). We also identified six goals that participants reported pursuing: (a) love (e.g., seeking a loving, caring, serious relationship), (b) sex (e.g., kissing, following hormones, intercourse), (c) fun, (d) learn about partner/relationships (e.g., get to know other person, experience dating), (e) impress others outside of relationship (e.g., look cool), and (f) gain access to partners resources (e.g., liked his car). Narratives were coded separately for (a) participants reports of their own strategies and goals and (b) participants reports of their partners strategies and goals. Four of the strategy codes (spending time together, third-party intervention, reporting that the relationship just happened, and using alcohol/drugs) could not be solely attributed to either the participant or the partner, so they were analyzed independently. All of the codes were rated on 3-point scales where 0 (did not discuss), 1 (moderately present in the narrative), and 2 (strongly present in the narrative). Interrater agreement was calculated for

Clark et al. / STRATEGIC BEHAVIORS


TABLE 5: Participants Own Strategies and Goals, Study 2 (in percentages) All Participants ( N = 271) Strategies Talk in person Touch Ask directly Talk on the phone Passive Flirt Manipulate setting Present self well Nonverbal Gift-give Act interested Indirect Joke Game-play Dress up Goals Love Sexual intimacy Fun Learn Impress Resources Men ( N = 147) Women ( N = 124) Strategies Talk in person Touch Ask directly Talk on the phone Passive Flirt Manipulate setting Present self well Nonverbal Gift-give Act interested Indirect Joke Game-play Dress up Goals Love Sexual intimacy Fun Learn Impress Resources TABLE 6:

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Participants Reports of Partners Strategies and Goals, Study 2 (in percentages) All Participants ( N = 271) Men ( N = 147) Women ( N = 124)

94.1 63.8 62.7 53.5 50.2 36.9 33.6 22.5 20.3 21.0 18.5 12.5 7.0 5.9 3.3 82.3 19.9 17.4 17.1 3.0 .7

91.2 69.4 77.6 51.0 40.1 33.3 33.3 32.0 19.0 25.9 30.1 13.6 8.8 2.7 1.4 83.7 29.9 18.4 16.3 2.7 .7

97.6 57.3a 45.2a 56.5 62.1a 41.1 33.9 11.2a 21.8 15.3a 26.6 11.3 4.8 9.7 5.6 80.6 8.1a 16.1 17.7 3.2 .8

90.0 73.1 39.9 50.2 28.8 42.1 31.7 10.7 34.3 25.8 35.4 12.5 6.6 5.2 1.1 81.5 15.9 15.1 11.8 3.0 .7

85.7 71.4 43.5 35.4 42.2 42.2 19.0 8.2 36.1 15.0 33.3 15.0 5.5 4.8 2.0 83.7 13.6 17.7 10.9 4.1 .7

95.2a 75.0 79.8a 67.7a 12.9a 41.9 46.8a 13.7 32.3 38.7a 37.9 9.7 8.1 5.6 0 79.0 18.5 12.1 12.9 1.6 .8

NOTE: The subscript a, which indicates a test of proportions comparing mens and womens rates of endorsement of a particular strategy or goal, was statistically significant at p < .05.

NOTE: The subscript a, which indicates a test of proportions comparing mens and womens rates of endorsement of a particular strategy or goal, was statistically significant at p < .05.

50% of the data. Across all codes, interrater agreement ranged from good to excellent (see Table 4; mean agreement across all codes = 91%). Narrative codes were summed across both of the successful relationships reported, so codes could range from 0 to 4. Sex-role orientation. Spence, Helmreich, and Stapps (1975) Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ) was used to measure psychological masculinity and femininity. Lenneys (1991) review of the PAQ shows that the masculinity and femininity scales, consisting of eight items each, are orthogonal and demonstrate adequate internal consistency (Cronbachs alphas ranging from .71 to .85) and test-retest reliability (ranging from .65 to .91 over periods of months). Results
STRATEGIES USED AND GOALS PURSUED IN RELATIONSHIP INITIATION

To test the first hypothesis that the normative pattern of relationship initiation would involve the use of direct and emotional disclosure strategies, we calculated the percentage of participants who reported using each of the 19 strategies that we coded in the narratives. As can be seen in Table 5 and as predicted, most participants

reported using the following strategies: talking in person (and over the phone), touching the partner, and asking directly. The least frequently mentioned strategies were joking, game-playing, and dressing up. In terms of goals, most participants reported that they were seeking love in the initiation of their relationships. As shown in Table 6, a very similar pattern was demonstrated in participants reports of their partners goals and strategies. With respect to the joint codes (i.e., the joint behaviors reported in the narratives that could not be attributed to either partner), results revealed that 84.9% of respondents reported spending time together, 85.6% of participants reported that there was some third-party intervention, 23.6% of respondents reported that the relationship just happened, and 15.1% of respondents stated that alcohol/drug use was involved in the beginning stages of their relationship. Correlations between the goals pursued and the strategies used in romantic relationship initiation revealed statistically significant associations between the participant seeking love as a goal and (a) the participant asking directly ( r = .18, p < .01) and not being passive ( r = .27, p < .001), (b) the partner not behaving indirectly (r = .14, p < .05), and (c) the lack of alcohol/drug use (r = .18, p < .01). There were interesting associations

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PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN ing gifts and women were more likely to report receiving gifts. There were other gender differences that were not mirrored, however. Women were more likely than men to report that their partners talked in person, talked on the phone, and manipulated the setting. However, men were not more likely than women to report that they, themselves, engaged in these behaviors. Perhaps the use of these strategies by partners was more noteworthy to women than their male partners realized. On another strategy, men were more likely than women to report that they used touch, but there were no gender differences in reports of being touched. This may be the result of men initiating touch experiencesI kissed her, He kissed me, and We kissed were more frequent scenarios than I kissed him. Men also were more likely than women to state that they presented themselves well and that they were pursuing sexual intimacy, although there were no gender differences on the corresponding codes of partners behaviors and goals. In both of these instances, women may have failed to notice mens stronger sexual goals and efforts. No gender differences were found in subjects reports of the four joint codes. This lack of a gender difference would be expected if men and women were accurately reporting on the same kinds of jointly determined events. Overall, the pattern of gender differences in Study 2 replicates the pattern in Study 1. Biological sex was strongly related to the strategies used in romantic relationship initiation, with men being relatively more direct and women being relatively more passive. This effect was more profound in participants reports of their partners behaviors than of their own, suggesting that the differences are observable and real rather than being effects of peoples biased theories about themselves. Gender differences also were found in the goals that participants reported pursuing, with a greater percentage of men than women mentioning sexual intimacy as a goal in the pursuit of their romantic relationships. Interestingly, however, men and women were equally likely to endorse love as a goal in their relationships.
THE INFLUENCE OF SEX-ROLE ORIENTATION IN ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP INITIATION

between the participant seeking sexual intimacy as a goal and (a) the participant touching the partner (r = .23, p < .001), flirting (r = .13, p < .05), manipulating the setting (r = .13, p < .01), and presenting the self well (r = .24, p < .001), (b) the partner touching the participant (r = .27, p < .001), not asking directly (r = .21, p < .01), flirting (r = .14, p < .05), presenting the self well (r = .12, p < .05), not giving gifts (r = .15, p < .05), and acting indirectly (r = .14, p < .05), and (c) alcohol/drug use (r = .24, p < .001). These results correspond well to Greer and Busss (1994) work showing that indirect, somewhat manipulative strategies are enacted when individuals are pursuing sexual intimacy. In contrast, more direct strategies are used when individuals are seeking emotional intimacy in their relationships. Overall, the results of Study 2 strongly parallel those from Study 1. Talking (emotional disclosure) and direct strategies seem to be highly valued and frequently used in romantic relationship initiation. Surprisingly, however, third-party intervention (which was not strongly endorsed in Study 1) was one of the most frequently reported strategies in Study 2. This may be the result of Study 1 participants, who were imagining the initiation of a relationship, underestimating the influence of family and friends in their actual romantic relationships. Perhaps they do not explicitly seek third-party intervention but benefit from it nevertheless. Interestingly, most people report pursuing love relationships and using direct strategies in the service of that goal. One fifth of the sample did admit to seeking sexual intimacy, and the indirect, manipulative strategies associated with that goal replicate Greer and Busss (1994) findings.
THE ROLES OF SEX AND GENDER IN ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP INITIATION

In testing our second hypothesis, that men would use more direct behaviors than would women in relationship initiation, tests of proportions revealed that a greater percentage of men than women reported touching their partners, presenting the self well, and giftgiving. A greater percentage of women than men reported being passive. Results also showed that a greater percentage of men than women were seeking sexual intimacy in the beginning stages of their romantic relationships. A similar pattern was found in the narrative codes describing participants reports of partners goals and behaviors. Notably, some codes for participants and partners mirrored each other. Men were more likely to report that they were direct and women were more likely to report that they were the recipients of direct bids. Women were more likely to report that they were passive and men were more likely to describe their partners as passive. Men were more likely to report giv-

Correlations between the narrative codes and the PAQ masculinity and femininity scales (shown in Table 7) revealed that masculinity was associated with (a) the participant using touch, asking directly, presenting the self well, and pursuing sexual intimacy as a goal; (b) the partner using touch, not asking directly, being passive, not manipulating the setting, and not gift-giving; and (c) alcohol/drug use. Femininity was associated only with reports of both the participant and partner using touch.

Clark et al. / STRATEGIC BEHAVIORS


TABLE 7: Multiple Regression Analyses Predicting Narrative Codes From Gender and Gender-Role Orientation Variables, Study 2 Biological Gender (male = 1, female = 2) Code Participant strategies Talk in person Touch Ask directly Talk on phone Passive Manipulate setting Present self well Gift-give Participant goals Love Sexual intimacy Partner strategies Talk in person Touch Ask directly Talk on phone Passive Manipulate setting Present self well Gift-give Partner goals Love Sexual intimacy Joint codes Alcohol/drugs *p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001. r r Masculinity r Femininity Adjusted R
2

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.09 .15* .38*** .08 .22*** .02 .25*** .11 .02 .27*** .20** .03 .44*** .37*** .24*** .30*** .06 .24*** .03 .08 .05

.12 .11 .34*** .12 .22** .01 .23*** .13 .03 .25*** .19** .08 .41*** .43*** .20** .28*** .08 .22** .02 .07 .12

.05 .23*** .21*** .09 .07 .00 .13* .04 .01 .14* .10 .20** .24*** .09 .21*** .15* .03 .16* .05 .09 .21**

.09 .19** .11 .11 .01 .00 .07 .08 .02 .07 .05 .22** .13* .21** .16* .07 .05 .10 .05 .00 .24***

.00 .17* .02 .05 .02 .05 .04 .04 .01 .01 .06 .12* .09 .07 .02 .01 .06 .05 .01 .06 .02

.01 .13* .01 .03 .04 .04 .03 .06 .01 .01 .05 .11 .07 .03 .04 .01 .07 .06 .00 .00 .00

.00 .06*** .14*** .01 .04** .00 .06*** .01 .01 .06*** .04** .05** .21*** .17*** .07*** .08*** .00 .06*** .01 .01 .05**

To assess the relative importance of biological sex and sex-role orientation in determining the use of relationship initiation strategies and the pursuit of relationship goals, sex (male vs. female), masculinity, and femininity were used as independent variables in a series of simultaneous multiple regression analyses predicting the reported use of each initiation strategy and the pursuit of each goal. As shown in Table 7, gender was a significant predictor of (a) the participant asking directly, being passive, presenting the self well, and pursuing sexual intimacy and (b) the partner talking in person, asking directly, talking on the phone, and being passive. In each of these analyses, biological sex accounted for more variance than masculinity and femininity combined. Masculinity did account for more variance than either sex or femininity in predicting the use of touch (both by participant and partner) and the use of alcohol/drugs in relationship initiation. Overall, there was little support for our third hypothesis. Masculinity was associated with the use of direct relationship initiation strategies, such as touch and asking directly. Femininity, however, was not associated negatively with direct strategies, and it was not associated posi-

tively with indirect strategies, as predicted. In assessing the relative power of biological sex and sex-role orientation, the former proved overall to be a more powerful predictor of relationship initiation goals and behaviors. Thus, it appears that psychological masculinity and femininity have comparatively little influence on the ways in which people start their romantic relationships, except via the association of these variables with biological sex. Summary The results from Study 2 further illuminate the process of romantic relationship initiation and the relative importance of biological sex and sex-role orientation in predicting the behaviors used in the beginning stages of relational development. Strategies involving direct, forward action (e.g., asking directly and using touch) and strategies involving emotional disclosure (e.g., talking in person, talking on the phone, and spending time together) were strongly present in participants descriptions of their own and their romantic partners relationship initiation behaviors. In contrast to Study 1, participants in Study 2 reported that third-party members were highly instrumental in relationship devel-

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PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN romantic relationships. In Study 2, participants described their two most recent relationship initiation experiences, which were subsequently coded via analytic induction techniques. The codes revealed the goals pursued and the behavior patterns employed in relationship initiation. Although the strategies examined in Study 2 were more specifically defined than those investigated in Study 1, the results across the two studies were strikingly parallel. People generally prefer and use strategies involving direct and emotionally disclosive acts in the service of seeking emotionally intimate, loving relationships. One important difference between Study 1 and Study 2 was the reported use of third parties. Third-party intervention was not favorably evaluated in Study 1, yet third parties played quite a significant role in Study 2. These differential findings may be due to two factors. First, participants in Study 1 may simply have underreported the frequency with which third parties intervene in a developing relationship. Second, the coding in Study 2 may have been somewhat overinclusive. Coders were instructed to report the presence of any influential individuals external to the dyad, and this may have resulted in overemphasizing the power of third parties. Whatever the reason for the discrepancy between the two studies, the narratives from Study 2 did demonstrate that friends and family members are important influences on developing romantic relationships. Both studies revealed the importance of biological sex as a predictor of the evaluation and use of relationship initiation strategies. Men prefer and behave in more direct ways than do women, and women value and use more passive strategies than do men. It is worth mentioning that these gender differences were due to mean differences between two distributions of approximately the same form, with similar ranges, skews, and kurtosis, unlike the gender differences discussed critically by Miller and Fishkin (1997), which were attributable to a few outlying men. In Miller and Fishkins analyses, outliers (e.g., men who said they would ideally like to have hundreds of sex partners) caused mean gender differences to be much greater than the differences between medians or modes. Such was not the case in our data. Although we found strong differences between men and women in both studies, they may be somewhat misleading. Perpers (1985) data, gleaned from naturalistic observations of men and women in bars, suggest that even though men do frequently approach women, they do so only after women have signaled their interest in being approached. In addition, Robinson, Johnson, and Shields (1998) and Veroff et al. (1993) found that men and women tend to reinterpret past events in line with gender stereotypes. In fact, in Veroff et al.s (1993) study, marital satisfaction was positively associated with incor-

opment, engaging in a variety of tasks including discovering whether a potential partner was available and interested in dating, promoting a potential partner, introducing dyad members to each other, and going out with a newly forming dyad. Although previous research (e.g., Kim & Stiff, 1991; Klein & Milardo, 1993; Surra & Milardo, 1991) has suggested that family and friends have a large impact on the long-term stability of romantic relationships, the results from Study 2 indicate that third parties also play an important role in the initiation process. In terms of goals, most participants reported that they were seeking loving, committed relationships and chose to enact direct behaviors in the service of that goal. On the contrary, the pursuit of sexual intimacy was associated with the use of indirect and manipulative strategies, confirming Greer and Busss (1994) earlier work. Biological sex proved to be a powerful predictor of the strategies that participants and their partners used in romantic relationship initiation. Men described themselves and women described their partners as taking a very active role in relationship initiation, directly asking the partner to go out on dates and to escalate romantic commitment, manipulating the setting (often by visiting the partner unexpectedly), and giving gifts. Women described themselves and men described their partners as using indirect or subtle strategies in relationship initiation. Women acted passively, waiting for the partner to act and going along with what the partner suggested or did. Psychological masculinity, although accounting for less variance than biological sex, proved to be a predictor of the strategies used in relationship initiation. Masculine participants engaged in direct, overt behaviors and reported that their partners were relatively idle during the process of relationship development. Masculinity was also associated with reporting that alcohol/drug use was a significant part of the initiation process. Femininity played a less significant role, although it was related to touch. Because biological sex was a much stronger predictor than sex-role orientation, it appears that the goals pursued and the strategies used in relationship initiation are more strongly linked to being male or female than to psychological masculinity and femininity. This might mean either that biological sex itself is a direct cause of relational strategies or that it is strongly associated with effects of socialization not well captured by the PAQ masculinity and femininity scales.
GENERAL DISCUSSION

In Study 1, strategies were gleaned from the scientific literature on close relationships, sorted into broad behavioral categories, and evaluated by participants, thus revealing general orientations toward initiating

Clark et al. / STRATEGIC BEHAVIORS rectly describing early relationship events as being initiated more by the male than by the female. Thus, women may take a more active role in relationship initiation than the studies reported here imply. Women may not ask directly but they may provide strong cues as to whether being asked is welcome. Therefore, retrospective reports of mens and womens behaviors may be somewhat biased, and online observations of relationship initiation behavior may be necessary to reveal fully what men and women actually do in the beginning stages of their relationships. Direct observation and more experience-near measures, such as diary entries, are needed to clarify these matters. In Study 2, psychological masculinity and femininity proved to be reliably associated with the strategies used in romantic relationship initiation, although biological sex generally outperformed the two PAQ scales in predicting a variety of initiation strategies. There were two instances, however, in which masculinity accounted for more variance than sex: predicting touch (both for participant and partner) and predicting alcohol/drug use. Masculine participants, who described themselves as independent, active, self-confident, and superior, may feel comfortable putting themselves in close proximity with others. The fact that masculinity was a better predictor of alcohol/drug use than biological sex was quite surprising because the alcohol-related research literature suggests that gender is one of the single best predictors of alcohol use (e.g., Galanter, 1995). Thus, the results of Study 2 may have important implications for future research on alcohol use and abuse. Stepping back from the many empirical details, what are the theoretical implications of the two studies? Both indicate that the most frequently used behaviors in romantic relationship initiation are those that promote emotional intimacy (emotional disclosure in Study 1 and seeking love, talking, and spending time together in Study 2). These results support the basic premise of Reis and Shavers (1988) model of interpersonal intimacypeople are seeking emotional closeness in their romantic relationships. Note, however, that people are also seeking sexual intimacy and frequently engage in touching (flirting, holding hands, kissing, having sex), and there were strong sex differences in line with Buss and Schmitts (1993) sexual strategies theory. Men were more direct than were women, being more likely to initiate a relationship in Study 1 and more likely to ask directly in Study 2. Men also were more likely to give gifts than were women in Study 2, possibly demonstrating their resources and their potential fitness as a mate and father. In addition, women were more passive in both studies, apparently waiting for male initiators but possibly also being cautious and careful when selecting a potential mate. Thus, it seems likely that young adults

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are seeking both emotional and sexual intimacy in their relationships, as Buss and Schmitt (1993) would expect if most of the study participants were implicitly engaged in long-term mating efforts. This interpretation is compatible with the fact that most college-student relationships at the participants university last more than a year, and many last for many years (unpublished data). The two studies reported here were limited in certain respects. First, even though the methods varied somewhat across the two studies, all variables were measured by self-report. It would be desirable in future research to observe actual behaviors in field settings. Second, the long-term impact of the behaviors enacted in relationship initiation was not assessed in these studies and is unknown. Although it is believed that the beginning stages of relational development are predictive of behaviors enacted in subsequent stages, this has never been tested directly. In conclusion, the two studies show that both general and sex-specific factors are important in romantic relationship initiation. College students as a whole tend to engage in behaviors that suggest that they are seeking both emotional and sexual intimacy in their romantic relationships and are, perhaps unwittingly, using the assistance of parties external to the dyad to fulfill those goals. Men are more direct in relationship initiation than women, whereas women tend to be more passive than men. The use of sexually motivated relationship initiation strategies was positively associated with masculinity. Overall, despite the exploratory and descriptive nature of these studies, the results suggest that relationship initiation is a highly structured, scientifically understandable process for which no single current theory offers an adequate explanation. Further research, combined with synthesis of an overarching theory, will produce a powerful and satisfying explanation of this important phenomenon, which plays such a fateful role in everyones life.
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