Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Marriage Mobility and Perceived Status of U.S. Presidents

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Marriage Mobility and Perceived Status of U.S. Presidents

Article excerpt

The Murray-Blessing historical rankings for the 4 U.S. Presidents who married down in social class did not differ significantly from the 8 who married up in social class. This finding is consistent with previous research indicating that men do not lose status with downward marriage mobility.

Intraclass courtship and marriage is prevalent in the United States. When marriage mobility occurs, the pattern is generally for a woman to marry a man of higher status (i.e., hypergamy) rather than a man of lower status (i.e., hypogamy). This reflects a sexist tradition in which women are evaluated according to their husband's social status rather than their lineage or accomplishments (Leslie,1982; Whyte, 1990).

In contrast, men do not lose status by marrying from a lower social class. In the marriage market, men may exchange their status for other highly valued qualities such as youth and physical attractiveness (Elder, 1969).

Given this, one might hypothesize that U.S. Presidents who married down in social class (N=4) should not differ significantly in their historical rankings from those who married up in social class (N=8). To test this, King and Ragsdale (1988) provided information on the marriage mobility of U.S. Presidents. The 1982 Murray-Blessing Poll, which is based on a survey of historians (see Stanley & Niemi, 1992), reported the following ranks for U.S. Presidents who married down in social class: Pierce (32), B. …

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