Men choose a woman who is at least moderately physically attractive, research finds.
Women, however, prioritise choosing a man of at least moderate social status when considering a long-term relationship.
The speed dating study found that men of low social status and unattractive women tended to lose out.
The partners that people chose were in line with their predictions beforehand.
In other words, men prioritised appearance and women prioritised social status.
Men and women were the same, though, when thinking about a short-term relationship — then both sexes were focused on physical appearance.
The study used both speed dating and online dating formats to test people’s partner preferences.
Before chatting with members of the opposite sex, participants were asked about their preferences.
Dr Norman Li, who led the study, explained the results:
“[people] prioritize different qualities when screening each other in online chats and speed-dates – women want men who are at least average in social status while men want women who are at least moderately physically attractive.
We also are the first to demonstrate that what individuals say they value in potential mates is indeed reflected in how they actually choose them in initial mating situations.”
In other words, people do know what they want in a partner, although men and women differ.
Dr Oliver Sng, study co-author, said:
“Speed-dating events and other modern contexts have many factors that can prevent a person’s ideal preferences from being expressed.
This new study identifies one such factor (lack of low-end variability) and shows that once you correct for it, people do indeed make choices closer to what they ideally want.”
Professor Douglas Kenrick, study co-author, said:
“The new study helps to dispel politically correct – but factually misguided – notions of a gender-neutral world where men and women want the exact same kind of mates.”
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The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Li et al., 2013).