First-Date Scripts: Gender Roles, Context, and Relationship

Abstract

This study sought to discover whether variations in relevant features of a first date would produce differences in young adults’ first-date scripts. In responding to scenarios that manipulated gender of the date initiator, alcohol availability, and relationship type, 209 college students in the Midwestern United States generated lists including an average of 21 actions they expected to occur on the date. Findings showed a trend toward traditional gender roles for male and female date partners, though some complexity related to sexual behavior and the gender of the date initiator was found. In addition, the context of the date influenced the date script to a great extent, whereas the type of relationship between the date partners had little effect.

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Acknowledgement

The authors thank Suzanna Rose and Irene H. Frieze for helpful advice regarding data analysis and Paul Mongeau for helpful comments on a previous draft.

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Correspondence to Mary Claire Morr Serewicz.

Appendix

Appendix

Examples of experimental scenarios manipulating gender of date initiator, alcohol availability, and relationship type:

Example 1. Scenario with male initiator, no alcohol availability, and acquaintance condition

Dan and Jane are sitting together at the Food Court in Shriver Center waiting for the rest of their communication group to show up for a meeting. They are working together with four other people on a group project for their public relations class. Because the semester has just begun, this is their group’s first meeting.

Dan and Jane first met just before winter break when a mutual friend introduced them. They didn’t see each [sic] over the break and because of the hectic nature of the new semester, they have only talked briefly since classes began. On this particular day, they have both arrived early for the group meeting. As they wait for the other group members, they talk about current events on and off campus and end up talking about movies. After discussing a particular new movie, Dan says, “That movie is uptown at the Princess. If you’re not busy this weekend, would you like to go see it with me, and then go to the coffee shop afterward?”

Example 2. Scenario with female initiator, alcohol availability, and friend condition

Dan and Jane are sitting together at the Food Court in Shriver Center waiting for the rest of their communication group to show up for a meeting. They are working together with four other people on a group project for their public relations class. Because the semester has just begun, this is their group’s first meeting.

Dan and Jane know each other very well and have remained close friends since they first met during their freshman year in high school. They are attracted to each other, but have never had the opportunity to act on those feelings because one or the other has always been involved with someone else. For the first time since they met, neither Dan nor Jane is involved with another person. On this particular day, they have both arrived early for the group meeting. As they wait for the other group members, they talk about current events on and off campus and end up talking about movies. After discussing a particular new movie, Jane says, “That movie is uptown at the Princess. If you’re not busy this weekend, would you like to go see it with me, and then go to a keg party at my friends’ house afterward?”

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Morr Serewicz, M.C., Gale, E. First-Date Scripts: Gender Roles, Context, and Relationship. Sex Roles 58, 149–164 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-007-9283-4

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Keywords

  • Dating
  • Romantic relationships
  • Gender
  • Alcohol