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Little is known about attributes that elicit romantic desirability in early adolescence. The current study, with a sample of 531 sixth-grade students (45 % boys) attending ethnically diverse middle schools, used a resource control framework to explore which self-reported behaviors (e.g., empathy and aggression) and peer-reported status (e.g., acceptance and perceived popularity) predict the likelihood of being considered romantically desirable (i.e., receiving at least one “crush” nomination from an opposite sex grademate). Self-reported empathy was positively associated with students’ romantic desirability (primarily for those with high peer acceptance), whereas self-reported aggression on its own did not. Both peer-acceptance and popularity also were positively associated with students’ romantic desirability, and aggressive behavior reduced popularity’s effect. Although aggression may be integral for obtaining high peer status across cultures, prosocial behaviors were romantically valued. Our findings suggest that peer-vetted social status elicits romantic interest and during early adolescence, nice guys and gals really do not finish last.
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- Nice Guys and Gals Finish Last? Not in Early Adolescence When Empathic, Accepted, and Popular Peers are Desirable
Andrew R. Bower
Melissa R. Witkow
- Springer US