Mate Retention Inventory (Male, Self-Reported) MRI-MSR


Author of Tool: 

Buss, D. M.

Key references: 

Buss, D. M. (1988). From Vigilance to Violence: Tactics of Mate Retention in American Undergraduates. Ethology & Sociobiology, 9, 291-317. Buss, D.M., & Shackelford, T.K. (1997). From vigilance to violence: Mate retention tactics in married couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 346-361.Buss, D.M. (2002). Human Mate Guarding. Neurendocrinology Letter Special Issue, 23, 23-29.  Shackelford, T.K., Goetz, A.T. & Buss, D.M. (2005). Mate retention in marriage: Further evidence of the reliability of the Mate Retention Inventory. Personality and Individual Differences, 39, 415-425.

Primary use / Purpose: 

The Mate Retention Inventory (MRI) assesses the performance of behaviors that function to maintain and retain a romantic partners exclusive involvement with the individual.


Maintaining a romantic relationship can be difficult work fraught with conflicts and challenges.Inadequate finances, meddling in-laws, and personality clashes, for example, can be sources of conflict in a romantic relationship. Perhaps the most important threat to a romantic relationship is infidelity (see Buss, 2000). Indicators of the likelihood of infidelity are key criteria that men and women use to select a long-term partner (Buss, 1989), and infidelity is a frequently cited cause of relationship dissolution and divorce across cultures (Betzig, 1989). An important part of maintaining a relationship, therefore, is fending off intrasexual competition and preventing a partners infidelity. Using an act nomination procedure (Buss & Craik, 1983), Buss (1988) identified and categorized the behavioral output of jealousy into 19 mate retention tactics (subsuming 104 diverse acts), the performance of which could be assessed by the Mate Retention Inventory (MRI). Mate retention behaviors are hypothesized to function to maintain a romantic partners exclusive involvement with the individual.


Several studies have generated evidence of the validity of the MRI. These studies also provide evidence of the reliability of the MRI. The participants assessed by Goetz et al. (2005) included university and community samples of 305 men (mean age 25.8 years), and alpha reliabilities for the mate retention tactics were generally acceptable, with a mean a = 0.73. Using a different sample of young adults (mean age 22.9 years), Shackelford et al. (in press) documented acceptable alpha reliabilities for the tactics, with a mean a = 0.71.



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