Effects of everyday romantic goal pursuit on women's attitudes toward math and science

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2011 Sep;37(9):1259-73. doi: 10.1177/0146167211408436. Epub 2011 May 26.


The present research examined the impact of everyday romantic goal strivings on women's attitudes toward science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). It was hypothesized that women may distance themselves from STEM when the goal to be romantically desirable is activated because pursuing intelligence goals in masculine domains (i.e., STEM) conflicts with pursuing romantic goals associated with traditional romantic scripts and gender norms. Consistent with hypotheses, women, but not men, who viewed images (Study 1) or overheard conversations (Studies 2a-2b) related to romantic goals reported less positive attitudes toward STEM and less preference for majoring in math/science compared to other disciplines. On days when women pursued romantic goals, the more romantic activities they engaged in and the more desirable they felt, but the fewer math activities they engaged in. Furthermore, women's previous day romantic goal strivings predicted feeling more desirable but being less invested in math on the following day (Study 3).

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Love*
  • Male
  • Mathematics*
  • Science*
  • Young Adult