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Note: Below are some responses to frequently asked questions that have been posed to us by students, reviewers, and interested scholars.Of course, our responses reflect our views on the state of the field at this moment in time; they will be updated as new data become available.On the one hand, we sometimes respond to this critique with “yes, exactly!” The multi-determinacy of mate choice makes it very challenging for the level metric to explain substantial amounts of variance in romantic evaluations.When we test the predictive validity of ideals, we are asking the question: Does the extent to which a partner matches my ideals predict how positively I evaluate him/her?That is, does the extent of matching between (A) the participant’s ideals (e.g., desiring extraversion in a partner) and (B) the partner’s traits (e.g., the partner’s level of extraversion) predict (C) the participant’s evaluation of the partner (e.g., how much the participant loves the partner)?Answering this question typically requires measures of all three constructs, which we refer to as the ideal, the trait, and the evaluation, respectively.There are two ways to compute “match.” The first is the ideal × trait interaction, which captures the extent to which the fit between one ideal trait and the partner’s level of that trait predicts romantic evaluation, over and above the main effect of ideal and the main effect of trait alone. The second approach is that, for each dyad in your sample, you can compute a correlation between a participant’s ideals and a partner’s traits across multiple traits; this approach captures the relative fit between a set of ideals and corresponding traits. These two metrics are independent (Cronbach, 1955, called them elevation and accuracy).
This is a fascinating question; note that it is essentially the same as the level metric test, but with sex “standing in” as a measure of ideals.If you have ever seen a speed-date (a real one, not this one), you will probably have seen two people discussing some pretty ordinary details about their lives (e.g., where they are from, what they do for a living and/or study).They meander through these topics while trying to find something in common.That is, ideal × trait interactions do not reliably predict romantic evaluations.This means that, if I say I really care about extraversion in a partner and you say you do not, extraversion tends to predict evaluations of romantic partners about the same for both of us.