The role of self-control and sociosexual orientation in partner selection: A speed-dating study

Tila M. Pronk*, Johan C. Karremans, Andrew Demetriou, Leander van der Meij, Jaap J.A. Denissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Self-control is a crucial factor in maintaining an established romantic relationship, but its role in relationship formation is understudied. The current study tested whether trait self-control is related to a more selective approach toward romantic partners. Over 4 years, we organized 11 speed-date events at which a total of 342 single, heterosexual participants met potential partners. Our results indicated that there was no main effect of self-control on selectivity. However, there was an interaction between self-control and sociosexual orientation (SOI) in predicting selectivity. Specifically, self-control was positively related to selectivity for people with a restricted SOI (i.e., interested in a long-term, stable relationship). For people with an unrestricted SOI (i.e., interested in a short-term, sexual relationship), however, self-control was related to lower selectivity. Our findings point to the flexibility of self-control in facilitating goal progress, stimulating people to refrain from—or act on—their impulses, depending on their own personal mating goals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)935-949
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Volume38 (2021)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Human mate selection
  • interpersonal attraction
  • mating strategies
  • romantic relationships
  • self-control
  • sociosexual orientation
  • speed-dating


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