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I Have, Therefore I Love: Status Quo Preference in Mate Choice

Selçuk, Emre
Akyüz Yılmaz, Cansu
Hazan, Cindy
Decades of research indicate that individuals adhere to existing states (status quo bias) and value them more (endowment effect). The present work is the first to investigate status quo preference within the context of trade-offs in mate choice. Across seven studies (total N = 1,567), participants indicated whether they would prefer remaining with a current partner possessing a particular set of traits (e.g., high trustworthiness, low attractiveness) or switching to an alternative partner possessing opposite traits. Preference for a given trait was highest when the individual representing the status quo (one's romantic partner or an interaction partner) possessed that trait. Concerns about hurting the partner, ambiguity avoidance, and biased construal of the partner and the alternative predicted status quo preference and disapproval of the current partner by network members eliminated this effect. These findings indicate that when it comes to matters of the heart, we tend to love what we currently have.