In line with the current trend in evolutionary psychology (i.e., focus on the impact of psychological factors on individual reproductive potential), we investigated the association between early maladaptive schemas, the level of couple satisfaction and the mate value of individuals involved in stable relationships. The research was conducted on a sample of 182 Romanian participants (174 females and 8 males, average age = 23.99 years). Standard instruments were used to measure the level of early maladaptive schemas (Young Schema Questionnaire), the level of couple satisfaction (Dyadic Adjustment Scale), and the individual mate value (High-K Strategy Scale). Our results indicate that an increased level of early maladaptive schemas predicts a decreased level of couple satisfaction, and that the level of early maladaptive schemas negatively correlates with the individual mate value. The findings are discussed from the perspective of evolutionary psychology and couples therapy.
Keywords: early maladaptive schemas, mating process, reproductive value, marital satisfaction
According to the evolutionary perspective (i.e., natural selection frame), social bonds might have boosted the survival chances of our ancestors, as well as their chances of reproduction. Group membership offers adult individuals opportunities of reproducing, nurturing their offspring to sexual maturity, sharing food and becoming stronger in front of dangerous situations (Myers, 2000; Giosan, 2006). Several studies indicate that individuals with a high number of social bonds (friends, family, colleagues, religious community or group) are less vulnerable to illness and to premature death, and have a higher level of general well-being compared to individuals with a lower number of social connections (Myers, 2000).
The simplest social relationship among individuals of the human species is the couple relationship, which is also the basic unit of the mating process. The ability of an individual to find a mate increases the chances to pass on his/her genes to the next generations. In the field of evolutionary sciences, this ability is known as direct fitness (Hamilton, 1964). Besides the functionality of the couple relationship at level of reproduction, there are also investigations on the impact of the relationship status on the individual well-being. For example, data indicate that individuals in a couple relationship cope better with different social and environmental stressors (Perlman & Rook, 1987).
The well-being (or quality of life) of an individual refers not only to wealth and employment, but also to the physical environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging (Costanza et al., 2008). Marital status, which is a demographic parameter that indicates a conjugal position (single, in a relationship, divorced, married, widowed) has been systematically associated with the physical and mental health of an individual. In terms of social belonging, the marital status specifies the attachment to a significant person (Ross, 1995). Recent data indicate that individuals living in married couples are less likely to suffer from long-term medical conditions (e.g., cancer) and have higher chances of survival than single individuals (Braithwaite, Delevi, & Finchman, 2010; Lillard & Waite, 1995). A 17-year longitudinal study (Stutzer & Fey, 2006) shows that married individuals have higher physical and mental well being than single, divorced or widowed persons. Also, compared to married individuals, single individuals have increased levels of depression, anxiety and adaptation problems (Braithwaite, Delevi, & Finchman, 2010; Coombs, 1991).
At societal level, couple relationship occurs either as marriage (official form), or as cohabitation (close relationship). The most important factors associated with the reproductive success of a couple appear to be the couple satisfaction (i. …