Students present ‘mate poaching’ talk at psychology conference


Human “mate poaching” was the topic of a presentation by two Pellissippi State students at the Middle Tennessee Psychology Association in late April.

Deana Richards and Minnie Stombaugh, students in Greg Duthey’s General Psychology class, presented the lecture, at which they discussed the phenomenon of one person’s “poaching” another person who is already in a committed relationship.

“‘Poaching’ is the term used to describe hunting done out of season,” Richards said. “If you poach a mate, they’re not in season, because they’re already taken.”

In their presentation, Richards and Stombaugh discussed the gender implications of mate poaching. In male-dominated cultures in which women are discouraged from speaking out, there is a high incidence of men who mate poach, they said. Richards suggests that the phenomenon is quite common in the United States.

“It happens to a lot of people, even if we don’t use the term ‘mate poaching,’” Richards said. “You know, you’ll hear ‘He stole my girlfriend’ or ‘She stole my boyfriend.’ It statistically seems to be common in North America.”

Presenting at the MTPA conference was a new experience for both Richards and Stombaugh.

“It was very nerve-wracking,” Richards said. “I think I made myself more anxious than I need to be. But everyone was very supportive and intrigued.”

“Although I have much experience speaking before large groups, I still get nervous,” Stombaugh said. “I’ve learned the more prepared I am, the less stressful it seems.”

“I’m so proud of them,” said Duthey, an adjunct faculty member. “It was like seeing your kids succeed.”

Several other students from his classes also attended the conference: Jan Conley, Sarah Hagy, Paul Jenkins, Hannah Keech, Tobias Vowell and Natalie Williams.