McKibbin, W. F., Goetz, A. T., Shackelford, T. K., Schipper, L., Starratt, V. G., & Stewart-Williams, S. (2007). Why do men insult their partners? Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 231-241.

Why do men insult their intimate partners?

William F. McKibbin a, Aaron T. Goetz a, Todd K. Shackelford a, Lucas D. Schipper a, Valerie G. Starratt a, Steve Stewart-Williams b

aFlorida Atlantic University
b McMaster University


Men sometimes insult their intimate partners and these insults predict intimate partner violence. No research has investigated the function of men’s partner-directed insults. We hypothesize that men’s partner-directed
insults are designed to retain their long-term mate and, therefore, that men’s use of partner-directed insults will covary with other mate retention behaviors. Using the mate retention inventory and the partner-directed insults scale, we conducted two studies to test this hypothesis. Study 1 included 245 men who reported their mate retention behaviors and partner-directed insults. Correlations and multiple regression analyses documented the predicted relationships between men’s partner-directed insults and mate retention behaviors. Study 2 included 372 women who reported their partner’s mate retention behaviors and insults that their partner-directed at them. The results replicated the results of Study 1. Discussion highlights future directions for investigating the relationships between men’s partner-directed insults and mate retention behaviors.

Read more

Starratt, V. G., Shackelford, T. K., Goetz, A. T., & McKibbin, W. F., (2007). Male mate retention behaviors vary with risk of sperm competition. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 39, 523-527

Male mate retention behaviors vary with risk of sperm competition.

Valerie G. Starratt, Todd K. Shackelford, Aaron T. Goetz, and William F. McKibbin

Florida Atlantic University


Sperm competition occurs when the sperm of two or more males concurrently occupy the reproductive tract of a single female and compete to fertilize an egg. This can be costly if the woman’s social partner loses the competition and, as a consequence, invests in offspring that are not genetically his own, a situation known as cuckoldry. Previous research suggests that men may have evolved tactics such as mate retention behaviors that reduce the risk of sperm competition and cuckoldry. The current research provides new evidence that men at greater risk of partner infidelity and sperm competition, measured as having spent a greater proportion of time apart from their partner since the couple’s last in-pair copulation, more frequently perform a variety of mate retention behaviors, such as calling unexpectedly to check up on their partners, monopolizing their partners’ time when around other men, and threatening other men who show an interest in their partners

Read more