The largest every survey of mate-preferences has revealed the characteristics that people find both essential and desirable in a long-term.
Here are some highlights of the findings:
- 92% of men and 84% of women said that it was desirable or essential that their potential partner was good-looking.
- 80% of men and 58% of women said a slender body was desirable or essential.
- 74% of men and 97% of women wanted someone with a steady income.
- 47% of men and 69% of women said that a potential partner making a lot of money was important to them.
Only around 40% of men and women, though, thought it was important that their partner was similar in physical attractiveness to themselves.
The biggest gender differences were seen in the area of money and career.
Twice as many women placed importance on a potential partner’s successful career and earnings than did men.
Dr David Frederick, study co-author, said:
“We’ve known for a long time that men care more about attractiveness in a long term partner, and women care more about resources.
In two national datasets, we found that gender was by far the strongest predictor of what people want in a long-term mate: it was more important than age, income, education, or confidence in appearance.
We found that although men have stronger preferences for a ‘good looking’ and ‘slender’ partner, men and women care equally about having a partner who is specifically attractive to them.
Wealthier men and people who were more confident in their appearance had stronger preferences for a good-looking partner, and older men and women placed less importance on looks and income traits when seeking a long-term partner.”
Some other interesting findings:
- Richer people — whether men or women — wanted better looking partners.
- Educated men were especially interested in good-looking and slender women in comparison to less well-educated men.
- Older people were less focused on looks.
The results come from a survey of almost 28,000 heterosexuals aged 18-75.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Fales et al., 2016).