Eastern Psychology Researchers Analyze Mate-Guarding Scale

Professor Alita Cousins and student Lauren Beverage present at Human Behavior and Evolution Society Annual Meeting.

A team of researchers from Eastern Connecticut State University’s Psychology Department presented at the 31st annual meeting of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society on May 29–June 1 in Boston. Professor Alita Cousins and psychology major Lauren Beverage ’20 presented “Validity of the mate-guarding scale in women.” Professor Madeleine Fugère was a collaborator on the project as well.

The act of “mate guarding” aims to preserve access to a mate by keeping rivals away and keeping partners from leaving the relationship. “Mate guarding is about controlling a partner and keeping access to them,” explained Beverage. “It encompasses intrasexual (partner-directed) and intersexual (competitor-directed) tactics.”

The team’s study set out to assess the psychological measurements (psychometrics) of the Mate Guarding Scale (MGS)—as the scales for measurement are few and their psychometric properties are largely unknown. Previous analyses focus on the following six MGS subscales: confronting rivals, publicizing the relationship, escorting the partner, covert tactics, monopolization and aggression.

The Eastern team surveyed 1,069 women. Results showed that women who self-reported more overall mate guarding toward their partner had in turn experienced more mate guarding by their partner; were more invested and controlling in their relationship; and felt their relationship had more costs.

The team’s project abstract reads: “Results showed that the more controlling and invested the women were, the more they engaged in mate guarding, as well as confronted rivals, publicized their relationship, escorted their partner, used covert tactics, monopolized and were aggressive.”

Based on their analysis, the researchers concluded that the MGS has high validity.

Speaking to her experience as an undergraduate research assistant, Beverage said: “Working with, and getting input from, multiple professors helped to problem-solve issues as well as creatively expand on the scale and discussions on factors that play a role in mate guarding.

“I had also never presented at a conference before, let alone an international one,” she added. “I had the pleasure of explaining our project to people from all over the world, including Germany, Norway and Australia, in addition to learning about their research. I’m grateful for the experience and to have worked with wonderful people!”

Written by Michael Rouleau