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Self-esteem important to initiate male relationships

by Archives October 5, 2005

WINNIPEG (CUP) — If you don’t love yourself, you might be missing out on love signs sent by the other sex, according to University of Manitoba researcher. Dr. Jessica Cameron, who recently presented the results of five studies she conducted on how self-esteem is connected to initiating relationships.

“Relationships are important. They are a good source of happiness and they contribute to psychological and emotional health,” she said.

“However, initiating relationships is interpersonal and risky because of the potential for rejection – fear of rejection is the most common obstacle.”

For heterosexual males, one of the most powerful attributes to successfully initiating romantic relationships is having high self-esteem: males pick up more cues from the opposite sex if they have more confidence in themselves.

Whether or not the female is actually giving off these flirtatious cues is hard to measure, so it’s possible that males with high self-esteem pick up on intentional cues, as well as imagined.

For females, however, having confidence in oneself was far less correlated with successfully initiating a relationship: In fact, it barely matters at all.

Cameron began the presentation by demonstrating the differences between high and low self-esteem individuals: Although both want to attain close relationships, their views and expectations are varied.

High self-esteem is associated with seeing the self as valuable, while lack of confidence views the self as worthless. Low self-esteem individuals anticipate that others will share this view of worthlessness with them and either reject or accept them based on it.

Motivations for pursuing the opposite sex also diverge based on self-esteem: Those with less are cautious because they aim to protect themselves from rejection, while those with more readily accept rejection as a way of enhancing or improving themselves.

Cameron’s studies were based on responses from first year introduction to psychology students. She found that males initiate most relationships of university students, and that self-esteem is a large indicator of how often and successful those initiations are.

“Why are low self-esteem males less successful?” Cameron asked. “Because they don’t progress to more direct strategies. Most flirting begins with indirect strategies such as standing closer to another person, looking at them more often and others; however, males with low self-esteem less often move up to more direct strategies.”

Cameron found that detecting reciprocity from the opposite sex is the most important variable holding back this progression to more direct flirting.

“Those with lower self-esteem overestimate the effect that their indirect glances or behaviour reveal to the other person,” she said.

The fifth study conducted by Cameron involved 79 undergraduates who recorded introductory videos similar to those in dating services. The participants were then shown one of two videos of moderately to very attractive actors of the opposite sex either sending flirtatious cues or exhibiting none. These videos were pre-taped and scripted, but the students were under the impression that the actors were responding to their dating service videos.

The results showed that males with high self-esteem saw more liking cues than those with less self-esteem. The data was not as stark when comparing high and low self-esteem females.

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