Hey hey you you, I don’t like your girlfriend… No way no way, I think you need a new one… Hey hey you you, I could be your girlfriend………
(Here is the song!)

-Avril Lavigne

Humans are sexual “machines”; we combine genetic materials from two parents and pass on to the kids. Basic biology here- humans do not self-reproduce and require mates to make more machines (babies). Humans oftentimes form long-term partnership with their mates in raising their babies and in making more babies. Here is where the Mate Poaching comes in to the show. Say, you are in a long-term relationship with your partner. Mate poaching, in psychology research literature, is the idea that someone is trying to “steal” your partner in relationship through an act or various acts. (By the way, poach in general means illegal hunts or acquiring something in a unfair and secret ways).

This recent article by Erik and Bhogal (2016) in Letter of Evolutionary Behavioral Science investigates mate-poaching characteristics. The researchers predicted mate poaching intention scores from the participants’ dark triad traits (will explain in a bit), self-perceived mate values (I also conduct studies with mate value characteristics), and sex. The research question is that do we know how likely a person is likely to mate poach someone in a relationship if we know the person’s aforementioned characteristics?

In psychology literature, the dark triad (triad> group of three) comprises Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy. These characteristics are measured via valid questionnaire scales (although there are different scales). In general, Machiavellianism is the personality that focuses on self-gain and usually has cynical views on morality. Narcissistic personality is mostly related to attention seeking, superiority and selfishness. Psychopathic traits are generally related to charming, manipulative and cunning. (http://personality-testing.info/tests/SD3/ You can take the psychometric test here on how high you scores on these personality measures. And, do not worry because I won’t know your scores.)

The other measure is the self-perceived mate value (for e.g., how desirable you are as a partner). There are various scales on mate value. This study only used 4-item. (The one scale I used in my studies involved 16 qualities as a mate). Mate poaching is a 10-item questionnaire score by Schmitt and Buss (2001). E.g., question is, “have you ever attempted to attract someone who was already in a romantic relationship with someone else? Rating is from 1 (rarely) to 7 (always). But, Schmitt and Buss (2001)’s scale is more than a 10-item. Here is their original report.

The study found that people who scored high on psychopathy and mate values also scored high on the intentions to mate poach. This is the key finding. However, several limitations (for e.g., correlational study is hard to pull out cause and effect) exist and are discussed in the original paper here. http://lebs.hbesj.org/index.php/lebs/issue/view/16

The bottom line is that people with high mate values and high scores on psychopathy are more likely to poach someone’s mate.

If you are in a long-term relationship, here is the good precaution. Beware of potential mate poachers who would score high on these characteristics. Like, Avril Lavigne.Or you can be Avril Lavigne and mate poach others if you score high on these traits. (P.S. I am not saying that it is good to be Avril Lavigne.)


Erik, E., & Bhogal, M. S. Do the dark triad and self-perceived mate value predict intention to mate poach? Letters on Evolutionary Behavioral Science, 7(2). 1-4.

Schmitt, D. P., & Buss, D. M. (2001). Human mate poaching: tactics and temptations for infiltrating exist mateships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 894-917. (doi: 10.1037/0022- 3514.80.6.894)



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