Volume 37 - Article 60 | Pages 1917–1932

Dating across and hooking 'up': Status and relationship formation at an elite liberal arts university

By Kristine Kilanski, David McClendon

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Date received:22 Jul 2017
Date published:14 Dec 2017
Word count:2445
Keywords:assortative mating, gender inequalities, social status, United States, young adulthood


Background: Demographic research on assortative mating underplays the role of social status in shaping partnering behavior, yet qualitative research suggests social status is critical in shaping partner desirability and structuring opportunities for partners to meet.

Objective: This study investigates how social status of sororities and fraternities shapes relationship formation between women and men on a college campus.

Methods: We draw on data from an online survey of sorority women at an elite liberal arts university about their romantic and sexual lives.

Results: While status homophily is the dominant pattern in romantic relationships (dating 'across'), sorority women up and down the status hierarchy are more likely to hook 'up' with high-status fraternity men. Concern about status is also associated with dating and hooking ‘up’ the status hierarchy.

Conclusions: Social status shapes the desirability of potential romantic and hookup partners and opportunities for potential partners to meet. Results also highlight gender differences in the operation of social status in cross-sex relationship formation.

Contribution: This study furthers our understanding of how social status influences romantic relationships on college campuses.

Author's Affiliation

Kristine Kilanski - Independent researcher, International [Email]
David McClendon - Children at Risk, United States of America [Email]

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