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Young and Midlife Single (or Recently Single) Heterosexual North American Adults’ Typical First Date Scripts and Their Retrospective Perceptions of Their First Date Experiences

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Title: Young and Midlife Single (or Recently Single) Heterosexual North American Adults’ Typical First Date Scripts and Their Retrospective Perceptions of Their First Date Experiences
Author: Allard, Erin Elizabeth
Department: Department of Psychology
Program: Psychology
Advisor: Desmarais, Serge
Abstract: Midlife adults who have divorced or never married represent a growing demographic in North America. Despite this fact, little research has examined the dating and sexual behaviours of these individuals. Research has instead focused on the dating and sexual lives of young adults, particularly undergraduate students. The current research program examined young (aged 18-24 years) and midlife (aged 35-54 years) single (or recently single) heterosexual North American adults’ typical first date scripts and their retrospective perceptions of their first date experiences. More specifically, Study 1 examined young and midlife adults’ typical first date scripts. Participants were asked to list at least 20 actions that a woman would typically perform on a first date with someone new, from the beginning of the date to its end, putting the actions in the order in which they would occur. Participants were then instructed to carry out the task a second time, focusing on the actions that a man would typically perform on a first date with someone new. Study 2 examined young and midlife adults’ retrospective accounts of their actual first date scripts, as well as their actual first date sexual behaviour. Participants were asked to list at least 20 actions that they performed on their most recent first date, from the beginning of the date to its end, putting them in the order in which they occurred. They were also asked to complete a revised Guttman scale of sexual behaviours, checking off from a list the behaviours that occurred on their most recent first date. Across both studies, analyses revealed three key patterns with respect to gender roles. First, contrary to expectations, young adults tended to be more traditional than midlife adults with respect to first dates. Second, midlife adult women tended to be less traditional than expected with respect to first dates. Lastly, in keeping with expectations, women were depicted as taking a passive role and men were depicted as taking a more active role in the scripts. Implications of the findings and recommendations for future research follow.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/7300
Date: 2013-07


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