PURPOSE: This study focused on self-perceived mate value of young adult survivors of childhood cancer relative to healthy peers. Qualitative studies indicate potential problems surrounding romantic relationships among survivors, but systematic studies are missing.
METHODS: One-hundred forty-nine childhood cancer survivors and 149 matched controls completed online questionnaires about their mate value, social comparison strategies (i.e., upward/downward identifying/contrasting strategies), and marital status. Survivors and controls were aged 20-40 (M = 27.8), 55% were female, and survivors had been treated for brain tumors (n = 52; 35%), leukemia (n = 42; 28%), lymphoma (n = 31; 21%), or other solid tumors (n = 24; 16%) at 5-33 years before study participation.
RESULTS: Survivors and controls did not differ on overall mate value, but on individual characteristics: Survivors thought they had a better sense of humor (d = 0.36), were more loyal (d = 0.32), had higher social status (d = 0.26), and were more ambitious (d = 0.19), while also considering themselves less sexually adventurous (d = 0.31), less healthy (d = 0.26), having less desire to have children (d = 0.21), and a less attractive face (d = 0.20). Higher mate value was related to being partnered, more upward-identifying, less upward-contrasting, and less downward-identifying strategies. Moreover, less downward-identifying was associated with higher mate value in survivors, but not controls; whereas greater downward-contrasting was associated with higher mate value among controls only (R(2) = 30.8%).
CONCLUSIONS: Survivors do not generally view themselves as less valuable (potential) romantic partners, but they evaluate different characteristics either more positively or more negatively. Social comparison strategies offer targetable points of interventions to intervene on negative self-evaluations, potentially enhancing well-being.
- adult survivors of childhood cancer
- mate value
- social comparison strategies
- romantic relationships
- marital status
- ACUTE LYMPHOBLASTIC-LEUKEMIA
- LONG-TERM SURVIVORS
- SOCIAL OUTCOMES
- NEUROCOGNITIVE SEQUELAE
- POSITIVE CONSEQUENCES
- ADOLESCENT CANCER