Science University Research Symposium (SURS)

Publication Date

Winter 12-2022


Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

SURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Patrick Morse

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Friends and romantic partners are some of the most important relationships in a person’s life, but sometimes the line between the two becomes unclear. Prior to 1986, opposite-sex friendships were inherently viewed as romantic, so opposite-sex friendships that are truly platonic in nature have become a “historically recent phenomenon” (Reeder, 2000; Bleske-Rechek et al., 2012). Previous research has examined what variables play a role in how people choose romantic partners and “friends of the opposite sex”, or FOS (Bleske-Rechek et al., 2012; Szymkow & Frankowska, 2022). This study proposes a change in term to FAS: “friends of the attracted sex” to create a more inclusive label accommodating a wider range of sexual preferences. The Mating Activation Hypothesis states that we view FAS as “back-up mates,” which is indicative of the blurred line between friendship and romantic attraction (Szymkow & Frankowska, 2022). Hoping to modernize and expand on previous research, our study was designed to examine how these traditional preferences interact when selecting friends and romantic partners. To measure this, researchers created 80 profiles using attractiveness and financial stability as independent variables. Participants were asked to rate on a Likert scale how likely they would be to be friends or romantic partners with each profile. Researchers conducted a multiple regression analysis to determine the relative weight of the independent variables in predicting preferences in friendship or romance, and expect to find that people look for the same qualities in friends of the attracted sex (FAS) as they do in romantic partners, that financial stability will be more predictive of female participants’ evaluations than males’, and that attractiveness will be more predictive of male participants’ evaluations than females’. This study aims to further explore the nuances of friendship and romance, as the line defining these relationship types can become blurred.



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