Friendship as a Relationship Infiltration Tactic during Human Mate Poaching
Previous research has characterized human mate poaching as a prevalent alternative mating strategy that entails risks and costs typically not present during general romantic courtship and attraction. This study is the first to experimentally investigate friendship between a poacher and his/her target as a risk mitigation tactic. Participants (N = 382) read a vignette that differed by whether the poacher was male/female and whether the poacher and poached were friends/acquaintances. Participants assessed the likelihood of the poacher being successful and incurring costs. They also rated the poacher and poached on several personality and mate characteristics. Results revealed that friendship increased the perceived likelihood of success of a mate poaching attempt and decreased the perceived likelihood of several risks typically associated with mate poaching. However, friend-poachers were rated less favorably than acquaintance-poachers across measures of warmth, nurturance, and friendliness. These findings are interpreted using an evolutionary perspective. This study complements and builds upon previous findings and is the first experimental investigation of tactics poachers may use to mitigate risks inherent in mate poaching.